Child murders Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were tried in an adult court and publicly named by a judge when convicted; but on release, they were given new identities to protect them from attack. When Venables was jailed again in February 2018, The Sun ran a feature on the six criminals in Britain who had closely guarded, lifelong anonymity. Read it here.
A reported proposal to test “digital trials”, with hearings held online, would be a threat to open justice and could confuse some defendants into pleading guilty, say critics and academics. Elsewhere, concerns have been expressed about local journalists having access to the court. Read a piece in The Guardian here.
As part of a billion-pound modernization of the court system, a panel was set up in January 2018 to help the media have better access to the courts: partly to counter a decline in court reporting. Proposals included training staff to understand the media’s needs. Read more
Parents and even editors are afraid to talk about what goes on in the family courts, a freelance journalist declared at a debate on privacy versus accountability in this sensitive area. “A sense of fear pervades the system,” said Louise Tickle. Democracy suffered, the audience was told. Read more from The Transparency Project here.
The Sun reports that producers of Coronation Street got things badly wrong when they showed an artist sketching an alleged rape victim as she gave evidence. It couldn’t happen in real life. Why would it be illegal – on two counts? Check your answers here
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.
Coverage in the Daily Star was less coy.
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