Protecting privacy

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
August 24, 2010, 6:28 PM GMT+0

Almost half (44%) of UK adults believe that ‘superinjunctions’ are an ‘unacceptable limit upon the freedom of the press’, a recent poll on behalf of the Sun newspaper has found.

In contrast, less than a third (28%) believes it is ‘an acceptable way for celebrities to protect their reputation or their privacy’.

Superinjunctions, which prevent news stories being published about the subject of the injunction as well as preventing newspapers reporting on the existence of the injunction itself, have been the subject of recent debate after it was revealed that they were being used by celebrities to prevent the publication of controversial details of their private lives. The high-profile waiving of allegedly unfaithful footballer John Terry’s superinjunction in January had spurred suggestions that the practice would diminish amongst celebrities.

However, reports in the press last weekend that another footballer has successfully obtained a superinjunction to prevent a newspaper running a story have re-ignited the debate.

Salacious stories

Interestingly, it seems that the use of superinjunctions by celebrities is less popular among men than it is among women, perhaps suggesting that women think that celebrities should be entitled to more privacy than men. 51% of British men say that they find superinjunctions to be an unacceptable limit upon the freedom of the press, compared to just 36% of women.

And there also seems to be a difference in opinion between the younger generation and the older generation, with older people condemning their use more than their younger counterparts, perhaps surprisingly given that the apparently salacious stories for which injunctions are intended as a shield may be expected to appeal more to the young. In any case, exactly half (50%) of those aged over 60 feel that superinjunctions are unacceptable, compared to just 25% of the same age group who feel that they are a legitimate method through which celebrities can protect their privacy.

Survey details and full results

Related story: When, if ever, do celebrities have a right to privacy?