Imogen Thomas (L) is at the centre of allegations surrounding an unnamed footballer
Imogen Thomas (L) is at the centre of allegations surrounding an unnamed footballer REUTERS

Calls to name the footballer who had an alleged affair with model Imogen Thomas saw a spike in search traffic on Twitter and appeared to crash the Scotland Herald's website last night. As of midday today the Scottish newspaper's website is still down.

But those hoping for a peek of the injunction footballer will be disappointed. The paper declined to publish an image of its front cover or the accompanying article online to avoid compromising the strict gagging order taken out by the player.

Newspapers in England and Wales have been prevented from naming the player after he obtained an injunction to protect details of his private life. But yesterday the Sunday Herald published a thinly concealed front-page photograph of the player, printing his face with his eyes blacked out and the word "censored" over the top.

And it's emerged that the newspaper could face prosecution after publishing details of the alleged affair.

An editorial in the newspaper argued the injunction didn't cover Scotland and only applied to England and Wales.

Highlighting the ease with which Twitter users have circumvented the legal process the newspaper justified its stance saying:

"Today we identify the footballer whose name has been linked to a court superinjunction by thousands of postings on Twitter. Why? Because we believe it is unsustainable that the law can be used to prevent newspapers from publishing information that readers can access on the internet at the click of a mouse.

"Because we believe it unfair that the law can not only be used to prevent the publication of information which may be in the public interest but also to prevent any mention of such a court order.

"The so-called superinjunction holds no legal force in Scotland where a separate court order is needed. We should point out immediately that we are not accusing the footballer of any misdeed. Whether the allegations against him are true or not has no relevance to this debate."

But media lawyer Campbell Deane, quoted in the Scotsman, warned that, despite England and Scotland having separate legal systems, the paper's editor, journalists and directors could face prosecution for contempt of court.