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.”
The British #MeToo scandal which cannot be revealed
Opinion: The public have a right to know when the powerful seek to gag the vulnerable
Telegraph gagged by injunction
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
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.
The Lancashire Evening Post successfully challenged an attempt to prevent teenage twin girls from being named in print after a reign of racist behaviour on their housing estate. The girls were subject to a court order rather than being prosecuted for a crime, meaning they did not have automatic anonymity. Read more on HoldTheFrontPage, here.
A review of changes to media law in 2014 has been published by HoldTheFrontPage. It addresses defamation and the uncertainty over the public interest test, as well as data protection. Read more
Note: this story was uploaded to Media Law Matters before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.
Newspapers said they would be unable to report hearings into the death of a child – and the involvement of care agencies – under restrictions sought by a council. A challenge succeeded (HoldTheFrontPage, August 2014). Read more