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Press guidelines on Court reporting: a response

Patrick

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The Oxford Mail published this and I suspect it will be a generic piece in all the Trinity Mirror group "local" papers
I am responding as follows, comments from others welcomed.

Sirs,

re this piece in your online paper(s)

Firstly, I am in no doubt that the law allows you to do exactly as suggested in your piece.
I am only interested in perhaps letting you know what a large group of innocent people think regarding what this means - and some of the moral conflicts you SHOULD be feeling...

re These FAQs
"I've been in court. Why have you printed my name, address and age?

That’s to stop any confusion. If there is someone with the same name as you living in the same town, people who know that person might assume it’s them. Printing your address stops any law-abiding citizen from being defamed. Defamation is a criminal offence and could lead to the Mail being taken to court. "

What this shows is that law-abiding citizens are getting defamed by you, as a matter of policy, all the time then, doesn't it?

- seeing as idiotic abusive fantasists and corrupt police are putting plenty of innocent people in court as suspected rapists (over 8,000 last year) and YOU, along with other journalists obeying this rule, have already decided they are guilty criminals just because they have "Appeared".
This illustrates the terrible position whereby the press assist the police in using bad limits of the law to crush the falsely accused and wreck their lives.
By putting in their address (rather than just their age, say) you are enabling the witch hunt mob to daub "pedo" all over their walls, smash windows, slash car tyres, wreck their lives, destroy families of innocent men, because you've decided they are guilty. Whereas they are innocent until proven otherwise.
When the film, "We Believe You" gets your attention be sure to watch and realise the next accused virtual stranger could be you.

Just wait until a succession of journalists get falsely accused of child rape, - I hope it happens to as many as possible, and soon. Then it might help change the way the corrupted police and press work.

On Section 11 and section 4

"...Well, if someone is a victim of blackmail, do they really want their name and the accusations for which they’re being blackmailed, all over the papers? Knowing there are certain orders to protect victims of these crimes might encourage them to come forward."

Here we have an example of an innocent victim of blackmail having protection from the judge - based on what that person "wants"...
and that old argument about "encouraging others to come forward".
This is fine here - in this instance, we would not want those being blackmailed to feel that they will have their guilty secrets exposed for trying to do the right thing and go to court to nail a blackmailer...

but it's not so fine when it is a corrupt relationship between police and newspapers that is used to trawl for more false sex crime accusers, in this sick post Savile world, in order to try and cement a "result", but utterly destroy justice and its key principle of innocent until proven guilty. These false accusers get the anonymity, financial aid and protection whilst the accused, who have nothing they can be blackmailed about, are suddenly publicly cast as the worst type of criminal. (and when found not guilty this story slips to small column on an inside page so internet search results by name continue to give the sensationalist wrong impression for ever more).
Mark Watts of Exaro news should be in the dock alongside Carl Beech for perverting the course of justice - and all those who have suffered at the hands of the tens of thousands of false accusers deserve to see a more responsible approach from the press, who only seem interested in the letter of the law but couldn't give a damn about the core principles.

Regards,
etc"
 

franticwithworry

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I've never understood this 'protecting law-abiding citizens' nonsense when printing a defendant's details. Until someone is found guilty in a court of law, the presumption is SUPPOSED to be of innocence. They should be ASSUMED as innocent until a jury states otherwise. (I hesitate to say 'proved otherwise' as the jury can and does get it wrong.)

I've come to the conclusion that the press who peddle this nonsense and all the police officers and CPS lawyers who work on the assumption of guilt are as guilty as any of PCJ and should be prosecuted- not that they ever will be of course.

I honestly don't think that the press are interested at all in the letter of the law except insofar as what they can get away with in the pursuit of selling copy.
 

Patrick

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well, I sent this content to the paper - because they did ask for "any more questions" and said they would add the answers to that page.
My bet would be that they won't even bother to reply -
they haven't acknowledged receipt like the nationals do, and I did put my full address and phone number and a link to the article - as per all real newspapers letter protocols.

as for your hesitation even when a jury has made a decision, - we all know of too many cases to not feel sympathy on that front - but I would have no objection to press reporting on a jury's guilty verdict and giving the details - that fits with the basic principles of the law... (if the appeal system worked remotely properly we would see many hundreds more cases overturned I think)

But,
it is not even remotely within the principles of justice to publish such detail prior to a guilty verdict - in my opinion.
 

franticwithworry

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Agreed - once the jury has brought in its verdict there is no argument for the press not reporting the details. That said, if the guilty party has been carted off to jail, I don't see the benefit of printing the address that they no longer live at as there can be severe repercussions for family, including children, still there.

I'm entirely in agreement with you regarding the situation prior to a guilty verdict too - but what do we know? Fingers crossed for a reply for you, but I'm not hopeful either.
 

Matt

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Welcome to another of the marvelous blunders of the EU, the illusion of human rights. The idea is that a journalist is allowed to publish someone's full address (although in practice they usually stop at street name) in order to prevent the public confusing the defendant with someone else of the same name.

I'm sure none of us here underestimate the power of the newspapers and other 'victims groups' in lobbying against any such changes.
 
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