A couple who were filmed from a police helicopter, having sex on their patio, should be regarded as victims of voyeurism and entitled to lifelong anonymity, warned the legal team prosecuting the officer who shot the footage. A local editor declined to publish screen grabs despite “lively debate” among colleagues. Read more
However, the judge in the case said it was for editors to decide whether they were actually victims of a sex offence, given they knew they were being filmed. Those who published would risk prosecution. The couple refused to give evidence, meaning they were not entitled to protection as witnesses in the case. Read more
Legal expert Cleland Thom says the Independent website was wrong to justify lifting facts from court copy on the basis that there is no copyright in news as long as it is re-written. Retaining just 11 consecutive words can be a breach. But it is legally unsafe for other reasons too, as well as raising ethical questions. Read more
Despite open justice, empty press benches in court mean “justice operates essentially unseen and unheard by the public”, a senior barrister has warned in an article. He says this gives rise to false myths about how court cases operate. Reporters often piece together reports based on “fragments” of a case, writes Andrew Langdon QC, chairman of the Bar Council. Read more.
A judge refused to allow more than three reporters into a youth court hearing to avoid overwhelming a defendant accused of attacking a police officer. She later relented after key evidence had been heard. PA Legal Editor Mike Dodd said court rules did not limit the number of reporters who could attend youth courts – which are closed to the public. He said the judged place the defendant’s welfare above the principle of open justice.
Journalism students used to be told they could not take notes at Coventry magistrates’ court; but they no longer need to accept such a ban. A member of the public appealed after being threatened with contempt for taking notes (elsewhere), and a resulting ruling says anyone – press or public – should be allowed to take notes unless there is a good reason to ban them. Read Cleland Thom’s article here.