Media legal expert Cleland Thom takes a look at the legal issues surrounding the Ryan Giggs, Imogen Thomas super injunction.

The idea that other people have sex both horrifies and fascinates the British public.
If TNT had a headline on its front cover saying: ‘David Beckham has sex with his wife’, it’d have to reprint to cope with the demand for extra copies. Thousands of Brits would rush out, pick up a copy, and then say, “disgusting”.

That’s what the Ryan Giggs / Imogen Thomas super-junction fiasco is really all about.

Strip away all the legal stuff, and it comes down to the fact that someone having sex is BIG news in the UK.

I’m sure professional footballers across the rest of Europe regularly sleep with celebrities who aren’t their wives. But over there, nobody really cares.

Most Italians were indifferent to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s antics until he started breaking the law by getting his kit off with under-18s. Even then, he still held onto his job. Imagine David Cameron surviving that!

So in the UK, the tabloids are desperate to publish ‘Man Has Sex’ stories. And the men are desperate to stop them, even if it means alerting the entire internet, Giggs-style, in the process.

Super injunctions are nothing new. People involved in confidence and privacy cases have always been able to get them if total secrecy is needed to protect their claims. But it’s only recently they’ve become a celebrity Must Have.

So now, everyone from Sir Fred Goodwin to Gordon Ramsay’s father-in-law (who?) has one. And all because they have sex.

Super injunctions are, in fact, a threat to another olde British tradition: free speech.

We’re discovering that under the European Convention of Human Rights, free speech is not sacrosanct any longer – it can be overturned by an individual’s right to privacy.

Compare this to America. There, the freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution.

If the UK still had a free press like theirs, Max Moseley and Ryan Giggs would be laughed out of court. Even if they did have sex.

Cleland Thom is legal advisor to TNT, United Utilities, GPSJ and Cascade News. He also runs online journalism courses