Court Orders

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

  1. 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.
  2. It can only be used on a defendant aged under 18. Once a defendant turns 18 the order expires.
  3. We can argue that a defendant who is 17 is almost 18 and should be named.
  4. If they are given an Asbo we can argue they need to be named to enable the Asbo to be effective.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.



Hull Crown Court sentencing

Hull man Joshua Taylor jailed for Anlaby Common burglary.

Joshua Taylor, 19, has been jailed for the burglary of a family home in Anlaby Common. He pleaded guilty to a  charge of handling stolen goods and has been  given a nine month custodial sentence.

The burglary took place on the 28 November 2016 at Spring Gardens, Anlaby Common. Various electrical items were stolen whilst the victims, Pauline and Keith Clark were asleep in bed, as were their two daughters .

Prosecutor Suzanne Moss spoke of Mrs. Clark’s distress, “she feels upset and frightened by the fact someone has been in their house while the family were in bed at the time. She says she feels worried and paranoid”.

Taylor was arrested in the early hours of that same morning at another property in Redbourne Street, Hull. The police had  entered the property to arrest co-accused Mr Nicklin on un-related matters but the defendant was also present at the address. Officers found various items linked to the nearby burglary, notably a “Window’s tablet” bearing Taylor’s fingerprints.

There where  two other men in the property when the police searched, Mr Nicklin and Callum Hilton. They were not charged as there was insufficient evidence against them. Judge Mark Berry expressed his surprise at this “somewhat generous decision by the Crown Prosecution System to not charge them”.

Taylor was also found to be in breach of a community order for an offence that took place just 10 days before. He had been stopped in his car in Bridlington in possession of a meat cleaver and kitchen knives.

Taylor has nine previous convictions for 16 offences, three of which were for dishonesty.

Defence barrister Stephen Robinson said,”it paints a bleak picture” but went on to explain that the defendant “has not had the best start in life mainly due to his involvement in the care system”. He also emphasised Taylor’s intentions to “make the most of his time in custody and embark on a training course”.

Judge Bury concluded: “You are 19. Your start in life has been somewhat bleak. If you are not careful, you will spend a lot of time in HM prison.”  He added, “this is a serious offence of handling the proceeds of a recent crime from a house burglary where a family and children where asleep in bed. It seems to me only a sentence of custody is justified.”

Taylor will spend the next nine months in custody in a young offenders institute, the remaining nine months of his sentence will be served on licence.





Recap-Contempt of Court

Contempt of court law protects the integrity of the legal process from outside influence. There are various types of possible reporting restrictions, some of which apply automatically while others are at the discretion of the court. One of its key aims of reporting restrictions is to prevent the publication of material which might prejudice a fair trial by influencing jurors to think that a defendant might be guilty. You can also commit a contempt of court by, for example, interviewing a witness before a trial or even by putting pressure on them to provide an interview after the trial.

  • In law you are in contempt if a publication creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to proceedings and proceedings are active.
  • You aren’t allowed to report a person’s previous convictions.
  • You are in contempt if you publish material that might prejudice a fair trial which might sway a juror’s mind.
  • You’re in contempt if you breach a court order such as a Section 39 order on a child.
  • It is contempt of court to take pictures inside a court room or tape proceedings.
  • In contempt if you identify a juror.
  • It is contempt of court to pay witnesses for stories who are due to appear in an up and coming trial.

Common law contempt is publishing material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to proceedings which are imminent or pending, with the intention of creating that task or interfering with the administration of justice. You would breach it by being reckless, by publishing an interview with a witness during a trial.

Strict liability contempt is simply 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.

Proceedings start when:

  1.  A person is arrested.
  2.  A warrant for arrest has been issued.
  3.  A summons is issued.
  4. A person is charged.

Contempt of court ends when:

  • A person is released without charge.
  • No arrest has been made within 12 months of a warrant being issued.
  • The case is discontinued.
  • The defendant is acquitted or sentenced.
  • The defendant was found unfit to be tried.
  • The court has ordered the charge to lie on file.

The term ‘substantial risk’ allows us to publish facts a distance before the trial because it is likely the jury will forget what they have heard.

When a person has pleaded guilty or being convicted you can safely publish facts about them, even though proceedings are still active , because you cannot influence a judge.

Under Section Three of the Contempt of Court Act the media is given protection for breaching the act if they did not know proceedings were active and had taken all reasonable precautions before going to print.

Also, if the police appeal for information to catch an offender.

Sex Offences

Covering Sex Offences

When a person is a victim of a sexual offence, such as rape, sexual assault – they are automatically given lifelong anonymity by the court under the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992.

Under Section One of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992 after an allegation of a sex offence has been made it is illegal to include in any publication any matter which is likely to lead member of the public to identify, during his or her lifetime, the person who is the victim/ alleged victim of that offence.

The ban includes:

  • The name
  • Address
  • The identity of any school or other educational establishment attended by them
  • The identity of his or her place of work
  • Any still or moving picture of him or her

The order starts from the moment an allegation is made by the alleged victim or anyone else, even if no one is charged, and it is automatic.

It remains in place regardless of whether the allegation is later withdrawn, or whether the police are told, whether an offended is prosecuted and whether anyone is convicted.

The anonymity applies to anyone who is the target of an attempt or conspiracy to commit a sex act.

It applies to babies or adults with mental incapacity and anyone who cannot complain for themselves.

You have to be aware of jig-saw identification.

Parliament gave victims anonymity in 1976 to save them the embarrassment and trauma of giving evidence in court.

It applies to crime stories, reports of trails and civil cases.

For example, a woman who alleges she was raped sued her rapist in a civil court you cannot name her even if she loses her case.

If you cover an employment tribunal where an employee alleges sexual harassment they have anonymity.

Jigsaw Identification

  • Section One of the Act bans the publication of matter that is ‘likely to lead’ to identification.
  • Naming a large school and saying the victim was a pupil is unlikely to lead to identification but if you included other information saying they were a 14-year-old violinist, might.
  • You have to be careful how other media organisations cover the same case. For example you may report the victim as a mum of three from East Hull, the radio may report she is a nurse and the television says it is a 31-year-old then her colleagues might identity her and you would all breach the act.
  • In reports about allegations of abuse within a family the media organisations should agree beforehand to either name the adult defendant and omit the relationship to the child or not identify the adult defendant and describe the abuse.
  • Also the Editors Code of Practice forbids the identification of a child in sex cases.

Some media organisations have been fined for inadvertently publishing material that breaches the law regarding the reporting of sex offences.

In 2006 the Daily Telegraph was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 compensation for breaching it and the Daily Express were fined £2,700 and ordered to pay £10,000 compensation after they published pictures of a servicewoman who claimed she had been sexually assaulted.

  • In some circumstances, the order can be lifted or varied to enable the media to report a case.
  • Clause 11 of the Editors Code of Practice says that the press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so.
  • Clause 7 of the Editors Code of Practice says the press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences.

There are only four ways you can identify a sex victim and that is:

1) If they die.

2) If they sign a waiver to lift their anonymity.

3) If they have lied and made a false allegation.

4) If they are convicted of a crime and use the fact they were the victim of a sex offence as mitigation.




  • There are a number of different courts
  • Magistrates   Crown    Youth    High    Civil    Family    Coroners
  • Youth Courts are for youths aged under 18 who have committed criminal offences.
  • Civil courts resolve private disputes between individuals and companies- such as a person suing for injuries sustained in a car accident or if a person had an accident at work they may sue their employer for compensation- or a couple have split up and arguing over a dog for example.
  • Family courts deal with hearings to decide custody cases of children.
  • Coroners courts hold inquests when a person has died to determine the cause of death from suicides to murder. Depending on the coroners’ decision the police may bring criminal charges after the case. – someone died at hospital and it wasn’t expected, will be taken to coroner’s court.
  • Magistrates Courts- Anyone charged with a crime be it murder or theft will appear at a Magistrates Court first. It is for adults but children can also appear in the court if they are charged with serious crimes such as rape or murder. Defendants are represented by solicitors in magistrate’s courts and three magistrates sit on the bench and decide their fate- if it stays in magistrate’s court, it may be sent to crown court. – Animal cruelty 6 months max so will be dealt with in magistrates
  • The Crown Court deals with serious cases which carry sentences of six months imprisonment or more. It also hears appeals for cases which have been sentenced in the magistrates court. In crown court defendants are represented by barristers, the cases are heard by judges and trials are heard by 12 jury members selected at random from the community- Jury Service.
  • Appeals from crown court are always heard at the court of appeal in London in front of three judges.

Youth Courts

  • Youth courts are for defendants 18 and under
  • The public are not allowed into youth courts but the media are if you can prove you are a bona fide member of the press.
  • Under section 47 of the children and Young Persons Act, the press must not report the name, address, school or any other particulars that may identify a person aged under 18 concerned in the proceedings, this includes a defendant, witness or victims.
  • You could say a 14-year-old boy from East Hull but you might not be safe saying a 14-year-old boy from Thorngumbald as he could be recognised.
  • If you breach the order you can be fined up to £5,000. In 2003 the Plymouth Herald was fined £1,5000 for printing a picture of a 15-year old boy who was convicted for stabbing a pupil.
  • You can get around the anonymity by writing a report that does not mention that is was heard in a youth court. For example, you can interview a young person who was stabbed and as long as you make no mention of the court you are safe.
  • A youth court can lift the anonymity for the press if they argue it is in the public interest, this rarely happens except in ASBO cases because for an ABSO to work people need to know who the offender was.

Magistrates Court

  • Anything reported in a court is covered by Absolute privilege so you can’t defame a person or get sued for writing anything libellous.
  • Absolute privilege covers all courts, inquests and the Houses of Parliament, you have absolute privilege for fair, accurate, contemporaneous court reports. You can print anything said court as long as you publish both the prosecution and the defence case and publish it within days of the hearing.
  • You can print that someone has been called a paedophile or a murder or their if it is said in court even if they are later not found guilty.
  • Although it allows you to safely report courts it does not allow you to breach court orders and it does not cover things which are shouted out from the public gallery.
  • The courts can place other orders on court cases to ban the media from reporting details in them, such as identifying victims of sex offences, naming children and even naming defendants. If newspapers break these laws they are in contempt of court and face fines and prison. There are basic rules covering courts which start from the moment person is arrested until they plead guilty or are found guilty by a jury.
  • Anyone charged with a crime be it murder or theft will appear at a Magistrates Court first.
  • A journalist should always ask the court clerk to give them the name, age and address of the defendant- This is important because without it you could wrongly identify a person with the same name up for an offence and they could sue you for defamation. Journalists should ways check with the court to see if there are any reporting restrictions in the case that they need to be aware of.
  • Under the Magistrates court act you have to abide by the 10-point rule in your reports.


Covering Court

Court Protocol

  • When you enter courts security guards search your bags, you are not allowed to take weapons or cameras into the court buildings, you are not allowed to take any photographs in the court buildings- if you do, this could result in a prison sentence up to 5 years.
  • When you enter a court room you must remain silent and bow to the judge, when a judge is speaking you are not allowed to enter the court.
  • You are not allowed to eat, drink, text or read a paper in court.
  • You have to have permission from the judge to take notes unless you are a member of the press.
  • Anything that is said in any of these courts is covered by the defamation defence of Absolute Privilege.
  • The defence can only be used for a fair, accurate contemporaneous court report.
  • You can print anything said in court as long as you publish both the prosecution and the defence case and publish it within days of the hearing.
  • You can print that someone has been called a paedophile or a murder or a thief it is said in court even if they are later not found guilty

Covering Court- 10 Point rule

When a person appears at court there are only 10 things you are allowed to report

  • The name of the court and magistrate
  • Name, address, age and occupation of defendant
  • offence charged with
  • names of solicitors
  • the decision to commit for trial
  • the court the defendant is committed to and due to appear at next
  • date of next hearing
  • if they were given bail
  • if legal aid was granted
  • the decision of the court to lift any restrictions

If you breach the rules you can be fined and brought to count. In 1996 the Gloucester Citizen was fined £4,500 after it reported the first hearing of serial killer Fred West and said he admitted killing his daughter.

Covering Court

  • The reason for the 10-point rule is to prevent a risk of prejudice to a jury trial by publication of the evidence in the case.
  • If in the charge read to the defendant details of the circumstances are given you are allowed to report these.
  • You are not allowed to report a persons’ previous convictions.
  • You are not allowed to report bail hearing or the reason for bail being refused. You can only say whether or not it was granted.
  • You need to check before you publish a defendant’s picture at an early stage in case identity is ging 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 present occupants.
  • If a defendant shouts from the Dock that he is innocent, you are allowed to report this as a jury would in due course know that the charge has been denied.
  • To be able to write a full story for the paper when there are few facts available the media usually describe the courtroom scene, such as what the defendant was wearing, how many people were in the public gallery, how long it lasted, what happens next i.e case to crown court.

When Proceedings Start

  • Before a person is arrested the media can report all the facts of the case, interview victims and state a person’s previous convictions. The only exception are teachers. Under the Education Act 2011 the media cannot report the name of a teacher who has been accused of an offence unless they are charged.
  • The moment a person is arrested automatic restrictions are imposed on the case under the Contempt of Court Act and the media has to be careful what it reports.
  • A person is innocent until proven guilty and the media must not print anything which prejudices a person’s case and the right to a fair trial.

Proceedings start when:

  1. A person is arrested.
  2. A warrant for arrest has been issued.
  3. A summons is issued.
  4. A person is charged.
  5. Or an appeal has been lodged.

N.B You need to check with the police before you go to print if a person has been charged because it will change the story you are allowed to print.