Editor stands by decision to break order

 
Steve Dinneen
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THE editor of a newspaper that printed the identity of a footballer who took out a super injunction to hide an alleged affair yesterday said he wanted to “spark debate” over current laws which “fly in the face of logic”.

In an interview with City A.M., Sunday Herald editor Richard Walker said he does not believe his newspaper risks falling foul of the courts.

He said: “This information is available to everyone, but newspapers are not allowed to even mention it. So our decision to run the story wasn’t based on the individual case – it was about looking at press freedom.

“The current situation flies in the face of logic. Everybody knows [the footballer’s] identity – we are not telling anybody anything they didn’t already know.”

The newspaper, owned by regional publisher Newsquest, ran a front-page story featuring the face of a prominent Premier League footballer with a thin black line covering his eyes and the word “censored” written across it.

The caption below the photograph read: “Everyone knows that this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret. But we weren’t supposed to tell you that...”

City A.M. is not allowed to reveal his identity while the injunction stands.

Some lawyers have questioned the legality of breaking the gagging order. However, Walker said: “Injunctions granted through an English court don’t apply in Scotland.

“It’s not a case of declaring war on the English courts. We’re a Scottish newspaper, we don’t distribute in England, the story isn’t on our website and we believe it was right to run this story.” Former Miss Wales Imogen Thomas claims to have had an affair with the player, who yesterday featured in over 12,000 posts on Twitter.

A footballer last week launched legal proceedings against the microblogging site in a bid to uncover the identity of a user who posted information about alleged super injunctions. In a separate case, a journalist – whom we are also banned from naming – could face jail after posting details about an alleged injunction.

The Attorney-General’s office last night said it would investigate the Sunday Herald if asked to do so.