POLITICS
31/10/2011 12:58 GMT | Updated 31/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Twitter Users 'Should Not Be Charged For Breaking Super-Injunctions'

The number of celebrities hiding behind super-injunctions has fallen dramatically, Britain's top newspaper editors have confirmed.

Earlier this year a row over public figures abusing such court injunctions broke out.

Private Eye editor Iain Hislop was one of several senior journalists to tell MPs and Peers on Monday that the issue appeared to have corrected itself.

Parliament is considering whether privacy laws and press regulation needs changing in the light of a string of celebrity injunctions which became a laughing stock on Twitter.

Footballers, actors and TV personalities have all seen their legal gagging orders become all but meaningless after the details of their private lives spread widely on social networks.

Hislop said that the row had caused an outbreak of sanity which had led to a chilling effect in terms of the number of injunctions served since June.

When asked how many super-injunctions were still in place, Hislop replied: "There are about ten of them still out there. Footballers, actors."

Suggesting that the super-injunctions, rather than the stories they were concealing, were of greater interest to Private Eye, Hislop added: "I'm not even saying we'd cover them. A lot of stories we would never have done."

Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, was asked whether there was still a case to be made for reforming the legal system.

He said everyone was still at the early stages of feeling their way in the new landscape surrounding privacy laws.

But Jonathan Grun from Press Association told MPs: "The boundary has shifted towards privacy and away from freedom of expression of late."

Earlier, MPs heard from Professor Steven Barnett of the University of Westminster, who rejected the notion that someone revealing the name of someone with a superinjunction should be prosecuted.

"Exposure on Twitter is irrelevant.  Because people are talking about something in the pub doesn't mean you can run a five page spread about it. This is not a mass medium.  For me the pub analogy still works."

Barnett was also sceptical about whether a blogger should be prosecuted for similar offences. "There are very few blogs which have mass audiences, and those that do are people in the know talking to each other."