THERE is a new guessing game for football fans as they wait for Premier League matches to kick off which goes along the lines of: "Is the rival team's striker really Footballer XYZ or could it be our own midfielder? Who's been playing away even when playing at home? Was the blonde stunner in Sunday's paper who talked about 'romps' with an England star referring to our happily married defender?" I doubt if all that many supporters actually use the newly coined term "super-injunction" but it has become something of a media buzzword in recent months.
In fact, so wide is its use that it is often misapplied by editors who are outraged at the way judges appear to be issuing gagging orders at the drop of a wig. But we will come to that. First, we must grasp what it means in its purest and most accurate form.
The expression "super-injunction" originally meant a form of gagging order whereby the press was forbidden to report the injunction's very existence let alone any details contained in it. This meant, of course, that the name of the person or company seeking the injunction also remained secret.
Recently, however, papers have begun to describe injunctions as being of the "super" variety even though there is no prohibition against revealing their existence nor against reporting on the details.
What has been vetoed by the courts is revealing the identity of the person who has secured the injunction. Hence the emergence of alphabet spaghetti, such as YMP and XPS, to protect their identities from emerging in public.
Strictly speaking, these are not superinjunctions.
But I don't think that is going to change matters. From now on, clearly, it is going to be used to describe any gagging order that has the effect of making the plaintiff anonymous.
Incidentally, it was Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, who came up with the term super-injunction in September 2009 when his paper was prohibited from reporting the contents of an internal report by the oil trader Trafigura into the 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump scandal.
Its existence was only revealed when it was referred to in a parliamentary question, by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly, which was then circulated widely on the internet. Parliamentary privilege allows what MPs say in the chamber to be reported without restriction.
That route was also famously employed last month by the Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, to reveal that Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, had taken out a super-injunction.
The order even prevented his being referred to as a banker -- a fact that was widely lampooned. Even so, the nature of the information that Goodwin wished to protect has remained secret.
Hemming has now turned this single incident into something of a crusade by mounting a campaign to force an inquiry into the use of super-injunctions (which, as I say again, are not all genuine super- injunctions).
It comes against the background of three allegedly famous men securing gagging orders which prevent their identity being revealed. Oddly, though, we know what they are trying to hide.
Yesterday, the appeal court granted an injunction to a married man "in the entertainment business" who is supposed to have had an affair with a married woman, known as X, with whom he was working. …