Andy Davies (Channel 4 News):
Do you have any idea of how many anonymised injunctions and super injunctions have been granted since 2000?
Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls:
“Since 2000, no. I would not like to say precisely how many …”
Despite the release of a report by Lord Neuberger’s committee examining interim privacy injunctions, we are still not quite sure how many secret “super injunctions” – whose very existence cannot be reported – and anonymised privacy injunctions have been granted in the UK.
The committee, which announced its recommendations on 20 May, found that “at present, there are records of only a limited number of cases; specific records are not at present kept in respect of such matters”.
Recent estimates by two newspapers put the former type, super injunctions, at 12. The new report does not specify how many were granted in the past, but said that only two had been granted since the John Terry case: one was set aside on appeal (Ntuli v Donald  EWCA Civ 1276) and the other was granted for seven days for anti-tipping-off reasons (DFT v TFD  EWHC 2335 (QB)).
The committee stated, however, that “applicants now rarely apply for such orders and it is even rarer for them to be granted on anything other than an anti-tipping-off, short-term, basis”.
For the latter type, anonymised privacy injunctions, the report includes the basic case details of 18 injunctions with publicly available judgments, which Lord Neuberger said gave a “fair picture of what is going on”.
The committee found that greater clarity was needed and recommended that the MoJ’s Chief Statistician, with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), should consider collecting data about super injunctions and anonymised injunctions, to be communicated to the public and Parliament.
The current absence of any data renders it impossible to verify whether and to what extent super-injunctions and anonymised injunctions are being granted by the courts.
The Independent has contributed an injunctions “audit” as well, claiming that 333 “gagging orders” have been granted by the courts in the past five years. Of these, however, 264 orders grant anonymity to children or vulnerable adults. According to the newspaper, the remaining 69 orders include 28 that protect men accused of extra-marital affairs and nine that grant convicted criminals anonymity. The report also claimed that orders have been granted to at least seven major companies. In the absence of collated courts data it is difficult to verify the numbers. Only those with access to the individual orders would be able to confirm their details.
The proposed MoJ database could take some time to set up. In the meantime, we have put together a list of anonymised privacy injunctions which are in the public domain; in most cases we’re able to supply case details, a link to the published judgment and case commentaries. We have also included links to some media coverage.
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk