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Gagging order ... European human rights have been used to invent laws that trump the historic right to freedom of speech Getty Images

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Free press is more important than stars’ ‘privacy’

WT24 Desk

Judges ought not to use a spurious right to privacy to prevent the press reporting stories that are factually accurate, The Sun reports.  English law has no specific provision for privacy, Parliament has never passed such a law but European human rights have been used to invent one that can trump the historic right to freedom of speech.

Celebrities and other public figures use publicity to their own advantage. In promoting their latest activity they want the media to dance in attendance sometimes to increase their revenue or to promote views which they hold strongly. Yet the press is not there to be a free advertising service, it is there to report stories that will interest readers.

This means that those who use it to show themselves in a good light must expect their seedy secrets to be of equal, if not greater, interest. It is hypocritical to seek the limelight and then when it shines on a shameful truth to shout privacy. It is even worse when this shout is made in the name of children who have been used in a number of publicity stunts.

To parade infants in front of the cameras to appear the loving couple but then argue that it is in their interests that a scandal must be supressed is humbug. The courts are unwise to be a party to such dishonesty.  A free press is more important than the peccadillos of a celebrity. It is the high pressure hose that cleans the sewers of public life and has made the United Kingdom one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

It is not the job of the media to report boring public interest stories but to sell their wares.  Trying to establish a particular public interest is a fool’s errand, for the permanent censorship of the truth is almost never beneficial.  The rich and powerful often want to cover up awkward stories. These may be financial, sexual or political.

Power can be abused by police to frame the innocent as with the Birmingham Six, by Members of Parliament who claimed excessive expenses or by a government to make a dishonest case for going to war.  The protection from these dangers is the media. They create the risk of exposure which encourages better behaviour in the first place but when they have an accurate story it can stop harmful things from happening.

Anything that inhibits this and makes it less likely that editors will publish scandals encourages corruption and cover-ups.  In this case the public have been fooled by a public relations appearance that does not recognise the reality. In itself it is not that important but next time it could be about a judge who has freed a sex offender or a politician caught in a brothel.

Once what is printed is decided by the judiciary then it will be the establishment that is protected while the people are duped.
You back our campaign

SUN readers backed our Your Right To Know campaign last night.

They gave their support in the face of the recent Court of Appeal judgment in favour of a top celebrity.

Reader Malcolm Grier said: “Nobody – celebrity or not – should dodge the consequences of their actions. And the press should be allowed to reveal them.”

Martin Howlett said: “I’m in full support of Your Right To Know campaign.”

Julie said: “Why should people with money be treated differently? A two-tiered society, sick of it.”

And Anne wrote: “I share the same views as The Sun on press freedom.”
Oligarch uses appeal court to hide ID

EXCLUSIVE by BRIAN FLYNN

A RUSSIAN oligarch facing tough financial sanctions imposed by the European Union is using the British courts to stop the media reporting about his multi-million-pound divorce battle with his glamorous wife who “lives in the UK”.

The mega-wealthy businessman, who cannot be named, has had his European assets confiscated and his visa revoked in punishment for President Putin’s support of the war in Ukraine.

But The Sun on Sunday can reveal that he has hired UK lawyers to go to court to challenge the terms of his divorce settlement from his “British-based” wife.

The oligarch hired a top barrister and legal team to argue that he was unable to pay his wife money from the divorce because that would mean breaking the financial sanctions against him. He said that because his money was in Russia he was unable to transfer it to his wife’s bank account in the UK.

But the Court of Appeal judgment has firmly rejected his legal challenge.

At the same time it imposed a strict privacy order banning the media from identifying the oligarch or his family.

The full hearing, regarding how the man is to pay his wife in the UK under the terms of the Moscow divorce settlement, is due to start this year under cover of the privacy order.

The case can only be identified by the initials R v R.

The court said last year: “This appeal raises a short but important point of law about whether the court can make an order for payment by a husband in favour of his former wife of interim maintenance into an account in Russia with a Russian bank.

“Both the husband and the wife are Russian citizens: The husband lives in Russia and the wife in the UK.

“The order of Moor J dated 17 October 2014, now under appeal by the husband, provides for the payment of maintenance by the husband into the wife’s account in a Russian bank in Russia: As the wife lives in the UK, she will clearly need to remit those monies to the UK.”

There have been reports that Russian oligarchs who have been targeted by sanctions have transferred their wealth into the names of family members.

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