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Tag Archives: Contempt of Court

Did Stuart Hall ‘attempt to influence jurors’ in sex abuse case?

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The Lord Chief Justice has left the media, high profile alleged sex abusers and their lawyers in something of a quandary following the up-rating of UK broadcaster Stuart Hall’s prison sentence for 14 sex offences.

Lord Judge in the Court of Appeal criticised a “manipulative” Hall for attempting to influence potential jurors in his public comments reported in the media denying the charges before his eventual admissions in court.

Lord Judge is reported as saying: “Whatever legal advice the offender has been given, he knew the truth. He knew he was guilty of molesting these girls … This deliberate falsehood was a serious aggravating feature because here was an expert in the ways of the media, fully alert to the possible advantage of manipulating the media, at that point hoping to escape justice. He was attempting to use the media for the purpose of possibly influencing a potential juror.”

There has been a long tradition of people accused of offences denying in no uncertain terms any guilt before they come to trial and a tradition of full media reports of those denials – even though pre-trial reporting is, in law if not in practice, severely restricted by sub judice rules (broadly speaking to items such as name of accused, age, address and the charges – but not evidence, confessions). Indeed the media tends to make a practice of ensuring such denials are reported when they are made, even if only tacked to the end of the article. Read the rest of this entry

Rebekah Brooks can’t get a fair trial? Tell it to the judge

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It would be enough to make a Sun leader writer’s blood boil. If a gang embarked on illegal activities (allegedly); if it had at the centre of it (allegedly) a heartless flame-haired “criminal-in-chief” (as a former associate put it) allegedly linked (according to a deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police no less) to “a network of corrupted officials” within an alleged “culture of illegal payments”; if this happened and they all got off on the basis of a loophole in the law, think how the Currant Bun would fulminate. You couldn’t make it up!

Unfortunately someone has, let’s say, been somewhat free with the legal actualité, throwing into doubt the chances of former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks (for it is she allegedly*) and her colleagues ever receiving a fair trial for their (alleged) misdemeanours in the (so-called) hacking scandal.

The issue is that there has been “huge, dramatic and sensational” press coverage of the hacking story and particularly of the Leveson inquiry at more or less the same time as police have been stumbling towards the conclusion (one hopes) of their investigations into the matter. Anyone reading that coverage will be seriously prejudiced against Brooks et al. There is no jury in the land that would be able to give them a fair trial. This is the argument of Stephen Parkinson, Brooks’s solicitor

There is, of course, one jury that might have missed the “huge, dramatic and sensational” coverage: one made up from the many millions of good men and true (and women too) who read the Sun, since its coverage has been rather modest, restrained and unsensational. But leaving that aside, given the Leveson inquiry, can Rebekah Brooks get a fair trial?

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