It's a crying shame that Britain's clash over the respective rights of privacy and freedom of speech focuses on a footballer's affair. It's hard to imagine a cause less likely to justify a public interest case - as opposed to the interest of tabloid papers. As the Guardian's Michael White put it, it's not exactly Tahrir Square, the centre of Egypt's revolt against tyranny.
Yet it was obvious days ago that Ryan Giggs' injunction preventing him from being named was a futile exercise. Twitter users knew what newspaper readers weren't allowed to. Yesterday, a Scottish newspaper became the first to name Giggs - and this afternoon Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming relied on the protection of parliamentary privilege to follow suit. Within minutes, Sky News and other major news outlets decided to ignore the legal order. Despite this, Tugendhat J this evening became the second judge today to reject News Group's attempt to lift the injunction. The legal establishment is understandably reluctant to abandon the rule of law to what has been described as Britain's biggest act of civil disobedience. Yet the longer this goes on, the less respect the law will enjoy.
The biggest lesson in this saga is that a cover up often ends up creating a bigger story. Anyone wanting to minimise bad headlines should think very seriously before going to law to try to stop it. Ryan Giggs isn't the first person to find that managing the story might have been a far better tactic.
But we should also pause before accepting that a Twitter storm is somehow more legitimate than a reasoned legal judgment. Alastair Campbell made the point well in an interview on BBC Radio 5's Drive show. The media, he suggested, were relying on a 'useful idiot' like John Hemming MP breaking cover so they could name Giggs. He added that something that interests the public isn't the same thing as the public interest. News Group itself struggled to claim a public interest in naming Giggs.
The prime minister weighed in again today, arguing that Britain's privacy rules were unsustainable. But he repeated his concern about judge-made law, rather than legislation passed by parliament. This is facile. Much of our law is case law - an act of parliament is never the final word. It's the job of judges to interpret the law and - in the higher courts - establish precedent. If parliament doesn't like the results it can legislate to change them, but parliament has a far from unblemished record - as anyone who remembers the Dangerous Dogs Act of the 1980s will recognise. That was a classic example of the adage that hard cases make bad law.
The greatest irony is that Britain had no general right to privacy until the 1998 Human Rights Act incorporated the European Convention of Human Rights into UK law. How curious that this new right should almost immediately be eroded by the explosive growth of social media and the new power of the crowd.