Thursday, March 22, 2007

Britney: Over-court-protected

Don't ask about the giant, imaginary rabbit. Britney Spears - or, rather, her people - have taken a mysterious injunction in the London High Court to stop a John Doe from leaking stories about her time in rehab:

"We can confirm that an emergency injunction was obtained in London's High Court this afternoon as ordered by Mr Justice Gray on behalf of Britney Spears to restrain the person or persons, known as 'John Doe', who has/have been leaking information about Ms Spears' time in a rehabilitation clinic from further disclosures invading her privacy.

"This injunction will now be served on the UK media so as to assist them in not making the mistake of carrying such further disclosures if approached by this person or his/her agent.

"Ms Spears reserves the right and intends to challenge false allegations which have already been published about her time in rehabilitation and which are the subject of ongoing legal complaint."

Interesting - the question is, of course, if they don't say who John Doe is, how is a paper to know if they've been approached by the person in question? While the detail - whether Britney went on a twelve-step programme, or spent the whole time dressed in white chanting or whatever - is meaningless, this blanket ban seems to run against justice. If Spears can do this, what would be to stop, say, Downing Street getting a similar injunction against a Joe Public from leaking cabinet papers, without saying who he is or what the leak is about? It goes a little against the public interest.

Spears is also seeking to make papers give up their contacts, too:
"Applications are pending in London's High Court to seek an order requiring certain UK media organisations to disclose their respective sources so that John Doe can be identified and action can be taken against him/her."

Let's hope the High Court hurls this one as hard as it can - just because Britney might have a valid complaint as to the invasion of her privacy doesn't mean we should expect the court to start eating away at press freedom. Sure, today it might be about what medication Spears takes - tomorrow, the request could be coming from a repressive regime trying to find who bubbled it. Is Britney Spear's newly-discovered love of privacy really more important than all our freedom?

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