News24

UK journalist admits affair gagging order

2011-04-26 14:35

London - A top BBC journalist admitted on Tuesday he took out a gagging order to suppress reports of an affair, fuelling a debate over a string of injunctions in Britain banning the naming of celebrities.

Broadcaster Andrew Marr said he was now "embarrassed" about the so-called super-injunction granted by a judge in 2008 and the increased use of similar legal orders seemed to be "running out of control".

A footballer in the English Premier League, a leading actor and a married television star have all have taken out gagging orders in the past two weeks to prevent reporting of their cases.

"I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists," Marr, aged 51, said in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper.

"Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes. But at the time there was a crisis in my marriage and I believed there was a young child involved."

Marr, who is married to a columnist for the Guardian newspaper with whom he has three children, confirmed that he took out the injunction to prevent publication of details of an affair with another journalist in 2003.

Cameron uneasy

He believed at the time he had fathered a child with the woman but later discovered through a DNA test that this was not the case.

It was one of the first privacy injunctions of its kind in Britain.

Marr, the BBC's former political editor who now fronts a weekly BBC political show and also used to edit The Independent, a national newspaper, said he changed his mind about the injunction because of some of the recent cases.

"There is a case for privacy in a limited number of difficult situations, but then you have to move on. They shouldn't be forever and a proper sense of proportion is required," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that he felt "uneasy" about some of the injunctions.

Cameron said judges were using human rights legislation "to deliver a sort of privacy law" and added that it should be up to parliament to decide on the balance between press freedom and privacy.