A star of the TV show Shameless put out Facebook pleas for free legal help after being summoned to the High Court, apparently in relation to an image of the killer Jon Venables that circulated on social media. An injunction makes it a serious crime to publish images of Venables, who killed toddler Jamie Bulger when he was ten years old. See the Liverpool Echo story here.
The International Forum for Responsible Media blog publishes lists of important judgments. Here’s an example.
Among the links is one to the Daily Telegraph’s attempt to be allowed to reveal the identity of a business executive accused of sexual harrassment, but protected by non-disclosure agreements. Confidentiality was protected but the executive was revealed in parliament to be Philip Green.
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
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.