Court orders are restrictions on what is allowed to be reported in a case:
- Section 39 Orders-ban the press reporting the name. address, school or any other particulars of a child who appears in court as a defendant. victim or witness.
- Anonymity orders–Victims of sex offences have automatic anonymity for life.
- Section 4 Orders- These are made by the court to postpone reporting. They are used to ban us from printing one trial when another trial involving the same people is imminent.
- Section 2 Orders- These give anonymity to defendants or victims in cases of blackmail and cases of national security. It bans the name, address and any particulars being published.
Challenging Court Orders
All these orders can be used to ban us from reporting elements of cases but the press has the right to challenge these orders.
In 2000 in the High Court Lord Bingham said there was nothing to stop magistrates from hearing a representative of the press and a reporter could ‘save the court from falling into error.
Sometimes the court make illegal orders and you have to challenge them to enable you to a report a case. These can include putting section 39 orders on dead children and adults.
Even if a reporting restriction is invalid it must be obeyed unless the court amends or lifts them.’
In the Court of Appeal in 2011 Lord Neuberger said: “Court hearings should take place in public and should be freely reported unless justice can’t be done on that basis in the particular case and in that event the court should ensure that the restrictions on access and reporting are the minimum necessary to enable justice to be done in that case.”
Section 11 orders
- These give anonymity to defendants or victims, usually in cased of blackmail and cases of national security . It bans the name, address and any particulars being published indefinitely.
- A Section 11 order cannot be made if the name or the matter has already been mentioned in public proceedings.
- You can argue it is in the public interest to name a defendant.
- The judicial College guidance says banning publication of a defendant’s address may wrongly identify someone unconnected with the case.
- In 2000 the Grimsby Telegraph published a story on Gary Allen who was acquitted of murdering a Hull prostitute saying he lived in their path despite his address being withheld. They were able to do this because the Act stated the order only bans publication of matters in connection with the proceedings.
- Courts try and use the order to protect defendant’s children but this is not allowed.
Section 39 orders
- They ban the press reporting the name, school or any other particulars of a child who appears in court as a defendant, victim or witness.
- It can only be used on a defendant aged under 18. Once a defendant turns 18 the order expires.
- We can argue that a defendant who is 17 is almost 18 and should be named.
- If they are given an Asbo we can argue they need to be named to enable the Asbo to be effective.
- If they have committed a violent offence such as robbery or murder they should be identified. You can argue it is in the public interest to mane them.
- In cases of child neglect a section 39 orders bans you from naming the parents, you can ask the judge to vary the order to allow you to names the parents but agree not to publish the names of the children.
- The Judicial College says: “Age alone is not sufficient to justify imposing an order a very young children cannot be harmed by publicity of which they will be unaware”. This involved babies and children under school age.
- They can’t be used on children who are dead or who are not part of the proceedings.
Section 4 orders
- These are made by court to postpone reporting. They are used to ban us from printing gone trial when another trial involving the same people is imminent.
- They are made to ‘avoid a substantial risk of prejudice’ to a later case
- The media have the right to challenge these orders on the grounds that it is in the public interest to report the case.
- You can argue the gap is long enough before the next case to report the present case, also it may result in more witnesses or victims coming forward in a case.
Challenging court orders contd.
- All court orders can be challenged by the media apart from the orders covering victims of sex offences as they have automatic anonymity and the courts have no power to overturn it.
- All these orders can be used to ban us from reporting elements of cases but the press
- has the right to challenge these orders.
- To challenge an order you must write a note to the judge to let you verbally argue your case.
- You must also give notice to the prosecution and defence of your intention to oppose the order. The court is also supposed to give the media motive of its intention to impose an order and if this has not been done you must tell the court to give you time to prepare your argument.