More celebrities who have taken out injunctions to hide details of their private lives will be named in the House of Commons if they try to have “innocent people” jailed, the Birmingham MP who identified Ryan Giggs has warned.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said he and fellow MPs were ready to defy court orders and identify the celebrities.
He has come in for heavy criticism after telling the House of Commons that Manchester United star Ryan Giggs was the footballer at the centre of a controversy over gagging orders.
The comment opened the floodgates for media organisations to report that Mr Giggs was the footballer who tried to cover up an affair with Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.
But it also provoked an angry response from some colleagues – including Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr Hemming’s party leader, who said: “I don’t think anyone should be above the rule of law and if we don’t like the law we should act as legislators to change the law and not flout it.”
However, Mr Hemming told the Birmingham Post that no celebrity should think they were safe if they attempted to use the law against members of the public.
He had been moved to name Mr Giggs after lawyers acting for the footballer attempted to obtain details of the people who had mentioned his name on Internet messaging service Twitter, with a view to launching contempt of court proceedings, the MP said.
In his high-profile Commons speech, Mr Hemming also named Giles Coren, a journalist who he believed was in danger of being prosecuted in connection to a separate injunction.
Mr Hemming told the Post: “I am not the only MP who is concerned about this, and I was not the only MP who was prepared to name Ryan Giggs.
“I would be willing to do the same again if there are any more people trying to get innocent people sent to jail.
“I do think though that it is sensible for somebody else to do the naming. I think an MP should do it, and I have other MPs willing to do it, as it shows this isn’t just me out on a limb.”
He said his actions had been justified because he had prevented a celebrity using his wealth to protect himself at the expense of others.
“Everybody is of equal value. I think the 75,000 Twitter uses are of equal value [to Ryan Giggs]. They may not be as good at football.”
Mr Hemming identified Mr Giggs in the House of Commons after lawyers acting for the footballer launched proceedings against Twitter in the High Court.
They were trying to force the firm to release details of users who had named him as the married player who had a lengthy affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.
Because comments made in the House of Commons are protected by “absolute privilege”, Mr Hemming could not be prosecuted for breaching the court injunction.