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Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 08:48 UK

MPs 'should be able to say what they think'

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A married footballer named on Twitter as having an injunction over an alleged affair with a reality TV star has been identified in Parliament as Ryan Giggs.

Lib Dem MP John Hemming's decision to name the Manchester United star under the protection of parliamentary privilege, brings into question the relationship between politics and the judiciary.

Conservative MP Peter Bone said he wanted judges to "butt out" of parliamentary privilege, adding that he feared the judiciary was looking to restrict MPs' ability to make similar interventions.

"It is in the interest of every citizen in this country that an MP should be able to stand up and say what he thinks without fear that there is some recourse in law," he told Justin Webb.

But Lord Lester, a Lib Dem peer and human rights lawyer, said that no judge was questioning MPs' free speech, but that MPs themselves should reconsider how they police themselves.

"If parliamentarians are going to use their vital privilege in order to undermine the authority of the courts and court orders, then they are the ones that create part of the crisis," he said.

"There is a very strong need for self-regulation by both houses of parliament."

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay said the rules governing the use of parliamentary privilege "need reconsideration at the very least" in order to secure "mutual respect between the counts on the one hand and parliament on the other".

"We are in a very serious situation," he commented.


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