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Wikipedia editors scramble to repair superinjunction breaches

Users on the free-to-edit encyclopaedia edit the articles of people alleged to have been involved in extramarital affairs.

Former Big Brother contestant and glamour model Imogen Thomas has complained about how her reputation has been
Former Big Brother contestant and glamour model Imogen Thomas has complained about how her reputation has been "thrown to the lions" over allegations of an affair with an unnamed footballer.
Image: Suzan/EMPICS

VOLUNTEER EDITORS OF the free-to-edit online website Wikipedia are on high alert, after users edited the entries of high-profile celebrities to name them as being behind a series of UK court gagging orders.

A number of celebrities – including a high-profile actor and a Premier League footballer – have secured so-called ‘super-injunctions’, not only barring the media from publishing details of their alleged affairs but even stopping those figures from being publicly named.

The latter’s article has been edited almost a dozen times, the Daily Telegraph reports, to insert references to his alleged affair with glamour model and former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

Though vigilant editors on the site have undone many of the changes to the various entries, Wikipedia’s accessible logs of changes to the articles show the amendments still visible in some cases.

In one case, for example, an article was edited to include the sentence, “He is rumoured to be the Premier League player having an affair with Imogen Thomas of Big Brother fame” – a sentence deleted by another user within seconds of being posted.

In other cases, Wikipedia users with designated editorial powers can delete the record – instead leaving merely a log of the fact that an edit was made, but no way of knowing what the edit actually said.

Though the Wikipedia site is hosted in Florida, meaning the site is not under the jurisdiction of the UK gagging orders, the UK’s libel laws are so flexible that many parties sue through the British courts over materials published abroad – potentially leaving the site at the risk of legal action if it publishes the names of the parties behind the gagging orders.

A spokesman for the site said, however, that any references that had been deleted were merely removed because they could not be backed up by a conclusive reference elsewhere online.

Glamour model Thomas, meanwhile, has spoken of her anger at how she has been unable to protect her own name over her affair, simply because she did not have the money to seek the same kind of injunction that the footballer had.

“I didn’t have £50,000 to get an injunction. How I feel is I have been thrown to the lions and [told to simply] deal with it. I can’t deal with it,” she told ITV’s This Morning yesterday.

Thomas asserted that she had never intended to sell her story to a newspaper, and had not anticipated that details of her affair with the footballer would ever become public.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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