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How much privacy can celebrities expect?

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Sam Naz Sam Naz | 16:10 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

You've seen their faces on TV and read about their lives in magazines and newspapers. Celebrities have filled column inches and kept us entertained with their antics for decades, but this year gossip reached a whole new level. Scandalous stories of adultery and sleaze - and attempts to keep them secret - dominated the headlines leading to a huge debate about privacy.

In Sex, Lies and Gagging Orders, former Heat magazine editor Sam Delaney takes a look at some of the revelations celebrities tried to hide using injunctions and super-injunctions. He also delves into the recent allegations of phone hacking, which engulfed Rupert Murdoch's media company News International and brought down Britain's most popular Sunday tabloid, the News of the World.


Asking the High Court to slap a gagging order on the press is nothing new. Public figures have been doing it for years, but a case involving reality TV star Imogen Thomas had the nation captivated. Details of her affair with a top Premier League footballer (you know the one) spread like wildfire online, with his name repeated tens of thousands of times on Twitter alone.

Imogen Thomas Picture: PA

Despite the information being widely available, the injunction itself was never lifted. The Sun's lawyers did try - several times - but failed. Outside court, Imogen said her name and reputation had been trashed, but Justice Eady argued the married footballer had a right to privacy and was fully entitled to anonymity.

In a separate development, the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World gave the privacy debate a different angle. This time, it wasn't just stars of TV, film and sport who had been affected - it was members of the public too. The shocking revelation that the voicemail messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked, led to a huge public outcry and within days the News of the World was closed down.

However, the hacking of celebrities' phones has divided opinion. There was a heated exchange between the actor Hugh Grant and ex-News of the World features editor Paul McMullan at the time. While Hugh argues that most information gained from phone hacking is NOT in the public interest, Paul believes most people have no sympathy for the rich and famous because publicity is part of the game.

So, how much privacy should celebrities and other public figures expect - where's the line? How fair are the court orders gagging the press? Do you think it's time we had a clear privacy law? Let us know what you think.

You can watch Sex, Lies and Gagging Orders tonight at 9pm. Tell us your thoughts here on the blog or via @bbc3tv on Twittter using #sexliesgagging.

Journalist Sam Naz presents the 60seconds news bulletins on BBC Three

- BBC News: Q&A: Super-injunctions
- BBC News: Phone-hacking scandal
- BBC News: Newspaper breaks super-injunction


  • Comment number 1.

    I won't mention the subject that is close to my heart at the moment, but I'm sure the BBC would place a super-injunction on certain sports discussions if it could. Andrew Marr showed that no matter how much somebody jeopardises the interests of their family by their own actions, when it comes to trhe events being reported they suddenly think 'oh no, my family'. I do sympathise sometimes with people who would liek to keep their private lives confidential however, when faced with a press that is hungry for any hint of a half-story that would sell one or more copy of a sunday paper.


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