DEFAMATION

Qualified Privilege = For a fair, accurate report, published without malice on a matter of public interest.

  • You have Qualified Privilege on press conferences and meetings. You are covered for things people say in police press conferences, council meetings, football press conferences, inquiries, village hall meetings: it (Qualified Privilege) covers ALL public meetings and press releases. 

 

DEFAMATION NOTES – PUBLISHING PHOTOS

If you print a photo of a person and wrongly identify the person as a criminal the newspaper will have to pay substantial damages

Reporters also need to be careful of not naming people in defamatory reports. In 1986 a paper ran a story claiming that a detective at a small police station had raped a woman. It didn’t name the officer and led to 12 other detectives successfully suing the paper.

BEFORE PROCEEDINGS START

Before a person is arrested the media can report all the facts of the case, interview victims and say a person’s previous convictions.

The only exception are teachers. Under the Education Act 2011 the media can’t report the name of a teacher who has been accused of an offence unless they are charged.

When a person is arrested automatic restrictions are put on the case under the Contempt of Court Act and the media has to be carful what it reports.

COVERING COURT

You are not allowed to print a person’s previous convictions

You are not allowed to report bail hearing or the reason for bail being refused: you can only say whether it was given or not

Check before you publish a picture of a defendant at an early stage in case identity is going to be an issue in the case.

If you print a former address of a defendant you need to state they no longer live there or you could face being sued by the current occupants of that address.

If a defendant shouts from the dock that he’s innocent you’re allowed to report this as the jury would in due course know that the charge has been denied.

 

CONTEMPT OF COURT

Contempt of Court = When a person acts in a way that is disobedient, defiant or disrespectful towards the authority, justice and or court.

  • You are in contempt if you breach a court order like a section 39 on a child
  • You are in contempt if you publish material that might prejudice a fair trial which might sway a juror’s mind
  • You are in contempt if you pay a witness for a story in an up and coming story
  • You are in contempt if a publication creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to proceedings and proceedings are active
  • You are in contempt if you identify a juror
  • You are in contempt if you tape record proceedings
  • People are in contempt if they shout out in court

CONTEMPT OF COURT ENDS WHEN

  1. A person is released without charge
  2. No arrest has been made within a year of a warrant being issued
  3. The case is discontinued
  4. The defendant is acquitted (found not guilty)
  5. The defendant was found unfit to be tried
  6. The court has ordered the charge to lie on file (there’s not enough evidence to pin the defendant down so he’s found not guilty)

 

TYPES OF CONTEMPT

COMMON LAW CONTEMPT (pending proceedings) =  publishing material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to proceedings which are imminent or pending, with the intention of creating that risk or interfering with the administration of justice. You would breach it by being reckless e.g by publishing an interview with a witness during a trial.

STRICT LIABILITY CONTEMPT (active proceedings)= publishing material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to active proceedings. The court decides if the publication has created the risk regardless of the writer’s motives. e.g publishing a photo when identification might be an issue. The maximum sentence for this is two years imprisonment.

ALL ACTS/ORDERS

Education Act 2011 = Media can’t report the name of a teacher who has been accused of an offence unless they are charged.

Section 47 of the Children and Young Person’s Act =  Press must not report the name, address, school or anything else that might identify a person under 18 that’s involved in proceedings – be it a witness, victim or defendant.

Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Act = The media is given protection for breaching the act if they didn’t know proceedings were active and had taken all reasonable precautions before going to print

Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992 = When a person is a victim of a sex offence like rape, sexual assault, they’re given life long anonymity by the court

Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992 = After an allegation of a sex offence has been made, it’s illegal to report anything in a publication which is likely to identify the victim of the sex offence

Clause 11 of the Editors Code of Practice  = The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there’s adequate justification and they’re legally free to do so.

Clause 7 of the Editors Code of Practice =  The press must not, even if they’re legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences.

Section 4 Order = These are made by the court to postpone reporting. They are used to ban us (media/press) from printing one trial when another trial involving the same person is close/about to happen e.g if a defendant has one trial after another then we can’t print the previous one.

Section 11 Order = These orders give anonymity to defendants or victims in cases of blackmail and cases of national security. It bans the name, address and anything about the defendant/victim being published.

Section 39 Order = These orders ban the media from reporting the name, address, school or anything else about the child who appears in court as the defendant, victim or witness.

 

 

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