The PM ‘Privacy Commission’ debate on Radio 4


With regard to the matter of super-injunctions and privacy, I am not sure what Hugh Tomlinson QC was referring to on the feature in Radio 4’s PM programme entitled ‘PM’s Privacy Commission’ on Monday, but during a dialoge between him and Eddie Mair slightly over thirty-nine minutes into the programme he said: “The public is being mislead because [they are being told] people have sponsorship agreements that have family man images … well that’s just untrue. Such agreements don’t actually exist.” He was, I believe, alluding to the suggestion that the public make the assumption that a high-profile personality being paid by sponsorship had to have a clean image; Mr. Tomlinson appears to be saying that no such image agreements exist. My own opinion is that Mr. Tomlinson’s two sentences constitute, linguistically, an appalling, unintelligible string of words. Had I not inserted my own interpretation in parentheses the quote would have been almost completely worthless.

Assuming that he is saying that there are no legal agreements concerning good behaviour and acceptable ‘family man’ standards concerning those receiving sponsorship, then it begs the question why Tiger Woods had his fingers so badly burnt for behaviour not dissimilar to that of Ryan Giggs. Ian Carter,  BBC 5 Live‘s golf correspondent said on his blog when Woods fell from grace: “How humiliating for someone who until just over a fortnight ago was among the most visibly assured human beings on the planet. Now the sponsors who pay him millions seem to have stopped showing his image in association with their products on television. ” It would seem that the ‘family man image’ codicil applied to Tiger Woods.

It would not be difficult to postulate that the ‘ordinary Joe on the street’ pays good money to buy a football shirt for his son with Ryan Giggs’ name on it because he believes that he is a good role model. I know that standards of decency have slipped in the last twenty years, but I am making the assumption that the same ‘Joe’ would not feel so good about purchasing that same football shirt this week. The difference is between being in posession of the facts and being under an illusion. I am no legal expert, but to my layman’s understanding, wilfully colluding in hiding such detail – it would be called insider trading in the city – is tantamount to fraud (though clearly not so legally).

Aren’t the public entitled to know about the role models that earn vast fortunes in sponsorship because they have an allegedly clean image? Michael Barrymore paid a high price for his misdemeanours, despite the fact that he has seemingly not committed any criminal offence. Neither did he get his brother’s fiancee pregnant. But then I suppose he wouldn’t, would he?

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