IPSO rejected a complaint from pop star Jamelia after she was named in a newspaper report about her estranged step-brother, who was convicted of murder. The Editor’s Code says relatives of criminals should not normally be identified unless relevant. The paper said there was a public interest because the killer was only the second person in the UK to stand trial under a pseudonym. Significantly, he named the star in his application for reporting restrictions, saying the case was receiving heavy media coverage because she was a “close relation”. Read more here.
The Manchester Evening News chose not to challenge an unusual decision to extend a reporting restriction on naming rapist Reynhard Sinaga when was convicted of assaulting 48 men. He was believed to have many other victims who may not have known they had been drugged and assaulted. Police applied for restrictions to protect those unknown victims. Unusually, a decision was taken to keep the restrictions in place until sentencing, after Christmas, because “there were concerns about the availability for counselling services over the holiday period,” wrote reporter Beth Abitt. A rare case of a paper deciding suppression was in the public interest, perhaps. Read more.
A reporter has told how an unnamed court clerk tried to stop him reporting a knife crime trial: wrongly claiming there was a reporting restriction in place, and wrongly saying this meant the reporter could not cover the case at all. A Section 45 order was subsequently imposed to protect the teenage defendant’s identity: the reporter said that when he tried to challenge it, the clerk ignored his request to address the judge. The reporter won the day: the judge lifted the order so the 17-year-old could be named. Read more here (note that the facts in the story have not been verified for this website).
A judge declined to lift a temporary injunction preventing the media from naming two girls who carried out a brutal murder when they were only 13 and 14. Both had now turned 18, the age when teenagers’ right to anonymity would normally end. They were tried in an adult court with no automatic anonymity, but an injunction was put in place to protect them. The Press Association applied to have it lifted, but a judge extended the ban pending psychiatric reports. The court heard one of the girls had tried several times to kill herself. Read more.
Tina Malone, a star of the TV soap Shameless, was fined £10,000 and given a suspended prison sentence for sharing a Facebook post. It purported to reveal the current identity of Jon Venables, one of two men who, as 10-year-old boys, had killed the toddler Jamie Bulger. An injunction bans anyone in the world from revealing their current names or showing pictures of them – partly to protect innocent people whose pictures might be published in error. Read more.
An injunction to stop the Daily Telegraph exposing alleged sexual and racial abuse by a businessman was “a devastating blow” to press freedom, the paper said in six pages of coverage.
The Court of Appeal granted an injunction to stop the paper naming the “leading businessman”, because the story probably arose from a breach of non-disclosure agreements – in which employees are paid money to stay silent.
The Telegraph said the ruling was “contrary to the age-old principle against prior restraint of the press”, which traditionally said the media should not be prevented from publishing stories that people wished to suppress – on the basis that they could be sued if the story was unjustified.
The editor said he was confident the junction would be overturned.
Prime Minister Theresa May said in the Commons that NDAs were being used unethically. Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet.”
Telegraph gagged by injunction
The far-right agitator Tommy Robinson was released from prison after Appeal Court judges ruled he had been jailed too abruptly for alleged contempt. He was convicted within only five hours of being arrested for live-broadcasting details of a trial when restrictions were in place, meaning his barrister did not have adequate time to prepare a mitigation plea. But he would face a re-trial at The Old Bailey. A report in the Telegraph sets out the story of the saga and Robinson’s background.
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 contestant on TV’s Let It Shine talent show ultimately failed to block coverage of that fact that his father was a convicted terrorist, even though relatives of criminals should not normally be identified unless it is relevant. The Appeal Court said the contestant had voluntarily put himself in the public eye and the connection was known in his community. Read more
An episode of the Channel 5 programme Can’t pay? We’ll take it away was found by Ofcom not to have breached the privacy of a person in a public-facing role who was filmed when a building was entered so goods could be seized from a debtor. Respect for privacy was balanced against the right to freedom of expression and whether the programme contributed to a debate on a matter of general interest. Ofcom agreed that the enforcement of a court writ was not private, and that there was acute public interest in the activities of the people enforcing it. Covert filming did not necessarily breach privacy. Read more from page 20 of the Ofcom broadcast bulletin (December 2017), here.