Revealed: Record number of super-injunctions issued in Northern Ireland
The number of super-injunctions in Northern Ireland has reached its highest level in 10 years.
The gagging orders, which are so secret the media cannot report them, were awarded by the High Court in Belfast.
Awarding of the orders was effectively ended in England and Wales in 2011.
However they continue to be available and handed out in Northern Ireland.
In the past 10 years there have been nine super-injunctions granted to people in Northern Ireland.
Three have been discharged, the last in 2012, while six remain active.
That represents the highest number anytime in the last 10 years
One was granted by the courts as recently as this year.
The numbers were revealed by Ulster Unionist MLA Harold McKee.
He described the figures as "deeply disturbing" saying it confirmed the need to update Northern Ireland defamation laws.
Mr McKee said: "These figures would suggest that there are still individuals in Northern Ireland who may be using archaic injunction orders to shield themselves from scrutiny or public comment.
“The expense of applying for and securing these legal protections can be enormous and as such it is often a route only open to a privileged few.
"It’s therefore no surprise that many people will find their continuing use, along with the fact there are now more live than in anytime over the last 10 years, deeply disturbing."
The South Down MLA added: "It once again starkly demonstrates the consequences of the Executive’s decision not to adopt similar defamation laws in Northern Ireland that exist across the rest of the UK.
"Earlier this year a major report by Dr Andrew Scott recommended that many of the measures equivalent to the UK’s Defamation Act should be introduced into law here. In the months since the Executive has again done nothing.
“These latest figures of super-injunctions will further compound the pressure on the DUP, as they have been the major barrier to modernising our local defamation laws, to explain why exactly they are so determined not to allow freedom of speech in Northern Ireland by desperately clinging to the laws of the past.”