Courts 'too quick with gag orders'
Almost three-quarters of the public believe judges have been too ready to issue gagging orders enabling high-profile celebrities, politicians and businessmen to protect their privacy, a opinion poll has revealed.
Seventy per cent of those quizzed agreed that courts were "too willing to grant injunctions to enable the rich and famous to protect their private lives", according to the ComRes survey.
Just 25% disagreed with the statement.
The poll also revealed that the public has little sympathy for those in the limelight who try to repress embarrassing details of their private lives.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) believe that "celebrities and sports stars owe their lifestyle to their public profile so they should not complain about intrusion into their private lives", while 30% disagree.
The survey, commissioned by The Independent, also showed that more than half of voters think privacy rules have failed to keep pace with the rapid growth of the internet.
Fifty-four per cent agreed the Government "should ensure greater regulation of the internet and social media like Twitter to protect people's rights to privacy", with 40% disagreeing with that statement.
The courts have granted more than 333 injunctions in the past five years, according to The Independent. Some 69 of the orders ban publication of the identities of high-profile individuals, including 28 men accused of extra-marital affairs and nine convicted criminals.
Earlier this week a Twitter user set up a new account claiming to expose a series of high-profile public figures who have obtained an injunction. It was the latest in a number of attempts to get around injunctions supposedly taken out against the media and follows a year-long review of the use of injunctions which exposed tensions between Parliament and the judiciary.
Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted the current situation is "unsustainable" and set up a committee of MPs and Lords to consider how to improve the "unfair" situation of newspapers being bound by injunctions while foreign-based websites can ignore them.