An England footballer has obtained a super-injunction to prevent the media revealing details of his private life.
He obtained the legal order on Friday night after discovering that a Sunday newspaper was planning to publish an expose.
The star is the latest in a string of high-profile figures using Draconian privacy laws to block the media from reporting on matters they would rather keep secret.
The injunction has reignited the row over judges allowing celebrities to restrict the public's right to know the truth.
MPs and civil liberties campaigners have expressed alarm at the ease with which celebrities can obtain orders to gag the press.
Celebrities are increasingly relying on the injunctions to quash negative stories, rather than using the libel courts to challenge them.
The existence of the latest super-injunction - so called because the media are not even allowed to report details of their existence - is in the public domain now only because a newspaper on which it was not served published a report about it.
Another England footballer has won a draconian injunction to gag the media from reporting revelations about his private life - the second in a week.
The player, who cannot be named, is a father in a long-term relationship. He won the restrictive order last night banning a woman from publicising personal details about him.
Last night critics said he is part of an increasing trend which allows highly paid sports stars with access to expensive lawyers to exercise legal rights denied to ordinary members of the public.
In addition, the latest example of media censorship will reignite the row over judge-made privacy laws which have never been approved by Parliament. Instead, the orders are based on judges' personal interpretation of human rights laws.
Both orders were granted at the High Court in London by Mr Justice Nicol, on the grounds that the revelations would breach the footballers' right to a private and family life .
Do you know who JIH is? Well, you shouldn't. He is a well-known sportsman who has won an injunction restricting the publication of allegations about his sex life. You cannot be told his name because the Appeal Court has ruled that he should
The judges decided that, since JIH had previously been the subject of salacious stories about his sex life, were his name known it would be easy to deduce that the new allegations must also be about a sexual relationship, as indeed they are. This
appears to suggest that the worse an individual behaves, the greater his chance of securing anonymity.
Recent months have brought a flurry of activity that show restrictive privacy injunctions are alive and kicking. At least seven soccer players, television personalities and other high-profile figures have obtained privacy injunctions since July,
according to court records and people familiar with the situation.
Some tabloid newspapers now are being served with an injunctions per month on average, say people familiar with the situation. The broadsheet Guardian newspaper has received notice of at least eight injunctions so far this year, including at
least two super injunctions, according to one of its lawyers, Gill Phillips. That comes on the heels of 10 injunctions last year, she said.
On Thursday, a judge extended an injunction obtained by an unnamed television star against his ex-wife, who alleges they had a sexual relationship after he remarried. According to a public court order, the TV personality denied the allegation and
claimed that his former spouse had threatened to reveal details of their relationship unless he paid her money.
Thursday's order didn't prohibit the media from reporting its existence, but it barred the press from divulging the celebrity's identity.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve has described as an common sense a suggestion by MPs and peers that privacy injunctions should routinely be served on internet companies, as well as newspapers and broadcasters. Grieve told the Guardian:
That certainly seems to me an interesting suggestion. The interesting question is seems to me is, if this should be done on a more routine basis, then that seems to have some force. It is very wise; it's a suggestion of ordinary common sense
If a breach [of a court order] is brought to their attention then they will take action. But they can't act as a policeman on their network; I don't think that's necessarily helpful. They do need to act responsibly and clearly need to abide by
the laws of the land.
His intervention comes after a cross-party committee of MPs and peers urged the government to force Google to remove material banned by courts if it is not prepared to do so voluntarily.
The report, published last month by the privacy and injunctions committee, also urged Grieve to be more willing to take action against people who breach injunctions online, as happened with Ryan Giggs over his alleged affair with a reality TV