High Court Upholds Married British Soccer Player's Right to Privacy Over 'Big Brother' Affair

Newspapers will not be able to report the name of the Premier League player and will likely have significant ramifications for celebrities and their private lives.

LONDON -- Despite being publicly named in British parliament, by 75,000 Twitter users and on innumerable websites, the British High Court has refused to lift the super injunction on a married British soccer player who has sought legal protection to cover up an affair.

It means that that newspapers cannot report the name of the Premier League soccer player who is thought to have had an affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

In a judgment that will likely have significant ramifications for celebrities and their private lives, the courts here have upheld the player's right to privacy, despite the fact his identity is an open secret.

In his legal judgment, Mr. Justice Tugendhat said that his decision meant that newspapers would not be able to rehash all the events around the affair, or pursuing all those concerned including the players family and friends, just because his identity was widely known.

"This is not about secrecy, this is about intrusion," he said. "If it is a government secret, once the information is out, there is nothing left to protect. But with personal information, once you taunt someone, the more distressing it becomes."

However, newspapers can report the fact that using the protection of parliamentary privilege -- which gives Members of Parliament legal protection against litigation -- that the MP John Hemming named Manchester United star player Ryan Giggs as the person who took out the super injunction preventing his relationship being discussed.

The decision by the courts has only added to confusion in a situation that Prime Minister David Cameron has described as "unsustainable" and which Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt described this week as "bordering on farce."