15 June 2011

Superinjunction Tory MP revealed...

... and surprise surprise it's super-rich Tory boy Zac Goldsmith - son of forest clearing, asset stripping, super litigious, right wing Euro nutter - Sir Jimmy Goldsmith. Spookily Goldsmith junior shares his late father's predilection for shooting off to the lawyers first and asking questions later.

Anyway Goldsmith told yesterday's Radio 4 PM that he had done it after his and former wife's email accounts had been hacked. He said revealing the contents of the e-mails would have been "very uncomfortable" at a time when he was seeking election to Parliament, because of the revelation of "all kinds of tittle-tattle which I would have been better off without".

Now I have no truck with people's private details being stolen (which is what hacking is), but this does throw up some difficult issues for public officials and those seeking public office. What was the nature of these 'uncomfortable' details? Perhaps details of foreign investments? Or the reasons for his divorce? Gambling and betting arrangements? His non-dom tax affairs?

Now I can see why some of these would be very uncomfortable - particularly for a high profile candidate in a marginal seat. It might simply be family tittle tattle like who's picking the kids up from school on Thursday - but we don't know. And that's the problem of superinjunctions - they throw a blanket of secrecy over everything. And for people seeking public office that's a problem - there is clearly a legitimate public interest in knowing whether your MP is fiddling his or her taxes, has built up gambling debts or is raking in lots of cash from dodgy foreign investments.

It's a question of trust. If elected officials resort to using superinjunctions - how can the public, who elect them, actually know whether it is a legitimate move to protect family privacy or something more sinister to hide the sort of activities that would make the the MP or candidate unsuitable for public office?

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