A professional footballer is taking legal action against Twitter after users claimed to have identified the player who allegedly had an affair with Big Brother’s Imogen Thomas.
The married star, who is referred to as CTB in court documents, is said to have had a “sexual relationship” with the former reality television contestant.
He obtained an order preventing The Sun newspaper from revealing his identity last month and has now launched proceedings against the micro-blogging site and “persons unknown”.
Lawyers at Schillings, who represent CTB, said: “An application has been made to obtain limited information concerning the unlawful use of Twitter by a small number of individuals who may have breached a court order.”
The legal bid comes after a Twitter user identified a number of individuals who were said to have taken out gagging orders, fuelling the privacy debate and highlighting the problems associated with enforcing injunctions.
The list of celebrities has reportedly been seen by an estimated two million people.
Lawyer Mark Stephens, who does not represent anybody involved in the case, said documents were filed at London’s High Court on Wednesday.
Schillings said the footballer’s action did not amount to suing Twitter.
While the player could potentially sue the “persons unknown”, he is unlikely to be able to take the same action against Twitter which does not fall within British jurisdiction, Mr Stephens said.
“If you want to sue Twitter, you have to go to San Francisco,” he added, referring to the company’s headquarters in the US.
“Any attempt to enforce English privacy or libel law will not be accepted in the USA.”
A Twitter spokesman said: “We are unable to comment.”
PR guru Max Clifford told BBC news that while leaked information on Twitter has a limited impact, journalists can try to use it as leverage.
He said: “The good thing from a protection point of view is that it doesn’t have anything like the same impact. There’s a lot of stuff that goes out on Twitter that’s subsequently then shown to be totally untrue.”
But he added: “It appears to be out of control. It’s a strong bargaining chip as journalists want to say ’everybody knows anyway’.”
He said that some kind of balance must be struck to protect privacy and freedom of speech.
“Super injunctions and injunctions are purely a law for the rich, and purely there to protect the rich. What you need is some halfway house between the invading of people’s privacy and freedom of the press and information both of which are vital in a democracy.”