Should the idea of a ‘super injunction’ be scrapped?

Should people in official positions be exposed in the media when they do something wrong like cheating on their spouse? A survey by YouGov has revealed that the majority of the UK public do. In fact, it seems as if the general public also have a list of importance as to who should get priority exposure!

The Sunday Times commissioned a survey on the matter after the recent controversy surrounding superinjunctions and the freedom of the press, especially on celebrities and public figures *Ryan Giggs, cough cough*.

People who were surveyed were asked to rank a list of 10 sorts of celebrities and public figures in order of  how important it was for them to be exposed for misconduct. The results were surprising:

  • a senior politician – 71%
  • a backbench politician – 65%
  • a local clergyman – 64%
  • a local councillor – 62%
  • a top professional footballer – 59%
  • a senior executive of a major corporation – 58%
  • a well-known actor – 56%
  • a television presenter – 55%
  • a former reality TV star – 51%
  • a normal member of the public – 30%

What I was surprised about especially was the ranking of the local vicar. Nearly three times as many respondents wanted to see local clergy exposed in the media as opted to keep the matter private (23%), with 13% unsure what to think. Conservative voters (71%) and the over-60s (70%) especially wanted hypocritical clergy exposed.

BRIN UK had this to say about the findings:

Religious professionals may no longer command the sort of respect in the community which they once did, but it seems that we generally still expect them to be exemplary in their moral behaviour and feel entitled to know about their falls from grace.

I find this all very interesting. There seems to be, as I have said in the past that we Britons DO have a sense of moral direction deep down, no matter how bad society is.

Of course, the only remedy for clergy to prevent getting a bad name in the press is to make sure that they are accountable and to stick to what scripture teaches. We are all hypocrites, and we all sin, but I think the British public know that a clergyman (apart from preaching the Gospel and teaching faith) is called to live a holy life, to be a shepherd to his people, and an example to the community.

What do you think about the results?

 

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Michael

    Generally speaking, I don’t think anyone has a right to know about people’s private lives, and I subscribe to the biblical view that gossip is harmful and to be avoided. However, I do think that the conduct of those with positions of responsibility within the church should not be kept secret from everyone, but I think it is only relevant to those that they have responsibility for, and those they are accountable to; any significant misdeed should only communicated to people by the perpetrator themselves, or who they are accountable to. I would also add that the bible makes clear that all sin should be brought into the light, where it can be dealt with. This does not mean that it is everyone’s business.
    Going back to super-injunctions, I have one main issue. With a super injunction, it is illegal to even say there is one in effect, let alone reveal what it is hiding. This means that anyone who happens across the information can reveal it without even knowing that it was protected by an injunction. This means they can then be prosecuted and punished (maybe imprisoned) for some, as I believe they may not even be able to mention it in court; certainly, even if the case can be reported on, the nature of what was done can’t be reported on. I don’t know about anyone else, but that is quite a scary concept to me.

    • Hey Michael, thanks for commenting.
      I think that you’re definitely onto something here. This is a very good pastoral approach in dealing with misdeeds and how to protect people, as it were, from the problem of gossip.

      I share my fear with you in that the whole super injunction secrecy is very intimidating and dangerous.

  • TinyT

    Hm I don’t think it should all be different really. This is sort of like one rule for some and another rule for another. If this was going to come through then it couldn’t be ‘some people get exposed while others do not’, it would have to be all or none, I think.
    And it’s a personal thing as well, which I don’t think would really work. I would never cheat on my boyfriend, which I’m not implying by this next comment, but supposing I did ever do anything wrong, I wouldn’t particularly want it exposed. Yet, it’s an unfortunate aspect of human nature of which I cannot pretend otherwise, if my boyfriend was doing anything behind my back, then I would want him to be exposed. I know that’s unfair but that’s the way human nature is, I think, and so the whole thing would be flawed. It’s all relative, really.