Birmingham MP John Hemming is launching a wide-ranging inquiry which could expose about 30 football stars, well-known personalities and local government officials who have obtained secret gagging orders in the courts.Mr Hemming said he would investigate growth in the number of injunctions granted to rich and powerful people, preventing newspapers and even MPs from naming them or discussing their activities.Premier League footballers are among those who have hired highly-paid lawyers to use Human Rights legislation to obtain secrecy orders.
Details emerged last weekend of two new injunctions, one obtained by a footballer who allegedly cheated on his wife with former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas, and a second granted to an internationally-known actor who is accused of sleeping with Helen Wood, the 23-year-old prostitute whose former clients include Wayne Rooney.
MPs can only reveal details of the injunctions in the House of Commons, where they enjoy Parliamentary privilege.
Mr Hemming has already used his powers of free speech to identify former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin, who obtained a super-injunction banning the media from calling him a banker.
Mr Hemming (Lib Dem, Yardley) is concerned about the growth in hyper-injunctions, preventing people from talking to their MP about matters before the courts.
He said it was wrong that people with lots of money could buy secrecy.
One case targeted by the MP involves a gagging order about poisoned drinking water supplies on passenger ships.
He said he was not particularly interested in the mating habits of Premier League football stars, but would examine injunctions obtained by them.
Mr Hemming said: I am not saying at this stage that I am going to name all of the people, but I am not ruling it out either.
I am going to look at this on a case by case basis and pass the details to the Commons Justice Select Committee.
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