Gagging orders: women being muzzled by rich men

Gagging orders are back in the media again with one high profile male celebrity after another seeking to protect their anonymity amid accusations of illicit sexual behaviour.

Imogen Thomas’ appearance on ITV’s This Morning yesterday has started some interesting discussions about the apparent gender imbalance in the way these injunctions are being granted.

There are no hard and fast figures on how many gagging orders have been granted in the UK since they first came to prominence in 2007 but the figure is rumoured to be more than 30, of which apparently only 3 have been obtained by women.

This isn’t simply about gender – it’s about wealth more than anything else – but the women involved in these situations are far less likely to have the disposable income needed to bring these cases to court so clearly gender does play a massive factor. I also believe that men are more likely to get themselves involved in these sorts of situations although I’m not sure I can evidence that – just call it a hunch.

Conservative MP Louise Bagshawe concurred with the view that the law is treating men and women unequally, saying that women are being ‘muzzled by rich men’.

Interestingly, Baroness Deech, a leading female lawyer, has come out in defence of the men involved – blaming the women for wanting to sell their stories purely to make money. She said:

“This is no doubt an unpopular point of view on my part, but I feel quite ashamed by these women’s behaviour, although some say they have the right to ‘speak out’ and ‘set the record straight.’ What word do we have for women who make lots of money from illicit sex?”

Hmmm… and what word to we have for men who pay for ‘illicit sex’? More to the point, what opinions do we have of men who sleep around and then pay huge sums of money to keep it quite, while allowing the women involved to be slated all over the media and their families to be none the wiser. I can think of a few names for that as well.

Baroness Deech hasn’t exactly got a great track record of sticking up for women’s rights so is she being deliberately provocative or does she have a point? Did Imogen and others bring this on themselves to some extent?

Personally, I don’t think secrecy should be the privilege of the rich and the few and this is smacks of a ‘gentleman’s club’ arrangement. Who are the real victims in this? Not the men but the women involved – who are largely seen as ‘easy’ or ‘gold-diggers’ (whereas the men are seen as simply doing what men do). The other victims are the men’s partners/wives/families, who are often expected to stand by their man and carry on life as normal.

And it’s all fruitless in any case – a quick Google search quickly reveals the footballer concerned.

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