May 27, 2011

Parliamentary Privilege’s Greatest Hits

Parliamentarians have a long history of using parliamentary privilege to say whatever they desire, writes Crikey intern Esther Ooi.

It seems the whole world knew British soccer star Ryan Giggs was allegedly having an affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, as the news went viral on Twitter, despite an injunction banning the rumours from being published by the media. But this was blown out the water when UK MP John Hemming outed Giggs under the cover of parliamentary privilege.

Of course, Hemming outed Giggs very deliberately as part of his ongoing protest against the use of super-injunctions in the UK (English court orders that prevent publication of unwelcome stories and prohibit journalists from even reporting that a ban is in place), but judiciously employing parliamentary privilege to campaign on an issue or in some cases, go enemies, isn’t limited to British politicians. In fact, their colonial cousins in Australia have a long history of using parliamentary privilege to say whatever they desire.

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