The Sunday Herald is boasting record web hits after naming Ryan Giggs as the footballer who took out a gagging order over an alleged extramarital affair – despite the story not initially appearing online.
Three days ago the Glasgow-based Herald became the first UK mainstream media title to name the footballer, although for legal reasons it was confined to the print edition.
Nonetheless its website heraldscotland.com amassed more than a million unique visitors on Sunday and almost two million on Monday as the story gathered pace.
Giggs has now been named by most of the national and regional press after Lib Dem MP John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to identify him in the Commons.
Richard Walker, editor of the Sunday Herald, said: “These statistics underline the irony of us revealing the identity of Ryan Giggs in print only, when this was essentially a story about media coverage online.
“We couldn’t name him on heraldscotland for legal reasons, but there was already huge awareness of the story online, and we argued that this made the super-injunction untenable. The volume of traffic to our website confirms the urgent need for a debate on the balance between privacy and public interest in the new media age.”
In a comment piece yesterday, Richard condemned what he called the “insanity” of the ban and said he was glad to have fuelled the debate around privacy laws.
“Newspapers were being prevented by the courts from reporting information easily obtained on the internet and of which many (most?) readers were already aware. It seemed to us that situation was unsustainable and the insanity at its heart should be exposed,” he wrote.
“We hoped that by printing Giggs’s photograph and name we would further fuel the debate around privacy laws. We certainly succeeded.
“Today the Sunday Herald is as certain as we were on Saturday evening that we took the right course of action and the risks were worth taking.”
- Footnote: HoldtheFrontPage’s report on the Sunday Herald’s decision to name the footballer became our most-viewed story ever on Monday with 11,050 page views – even though we too did not name him at that time.
The only other story in the site’s 11-year history to top 10,000 views was the infamous mis-spelt picture caption about a bellringer named Tony Fuller whose name appeared in the Ludlow Journal as “Tiny Fukker.”