Will former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie be marched off to jail in super injunction contempt row?

Well it’s an intriguing prospect isn’t it?

News Corporation journalists in the UK are no strangers to prison cells or the looming threat of them thanks to the News of the World phone hacking scandal but former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie is now being pursued by ‘a footballer’ (there seem to be enough footballers taking out super injunctions to form a Premiership team) for contempt of court, which can carry a prison sentence.

The aforementioned footballer (it’s probably only a matter of time before we have to refer to erring footballers as ‘sportsmen’) has asked for a High Court order to search MacKenzie’s emails and text messages at the Sun. MacKenzie, who edited the Sun in its great days from 1981 to 1994, is now a columnist on the paper.

This particular super injunction (super injunctions prevent the press naming the person concerned or what he or she is alleged to have done) concerns an affair the married footballer had with former Big Brother contestant and model Imogen Thomas.

The footballer in question was ‘identified’ on Twitter by the mysterious ‘Billy Jones’ last week.

MacKenzie, who does sometimes speak prior to thinking, told the BBC’s Today programme yesterday that he sometimes gave out the name of super injunction protagonists to readers when they contacted him about the issue (evidently quite a lot do).

This, says the footballer’s barrister, is a clear contempt of court and so he wants MacKenzie’s emails etc searched for evidence of wrongdoing.

MacKenzie now says he was just passing on journalist gossip rather than revealing facts and his barrister says the request to search his communications is “just a fishing expedition.”

In a sensible world Mr Justice Eady, the judge at the centre of most of these cases and hardly the media’s best friend, would tell both parties to “calm down dear” and have a nice lie down.

Alas the law ain’t like that and the rambunctious MacKenzie is facing the prospect of gathering some rather unanticipated material for his column.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.