In the Media

Attorney general seeks contempt action over papers' Milly Dowler coverage

PUBLISHED November 21, 2011

Dominic Grieve applies for permission to act against Mail and Mirror over 'prejudicial' reporting of Levi Bellfield's conviction The attorney general will on Tuesday apply for permission to bring contempt of court proceedings against the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror over their coverage of Levi Bellfield's conviction for the murder and abduction of Milly Dowler. Bellfield was convicted on 23 June this year. However, the Old Bailey judge dismissed the jury on 24 June before they could reach a verdict on the second charge ? that he had also attempted to abduct schoolgirl Rachael Cowles ? over allegations of "hugely prejudicial" media coverage. The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said he was forced to dismiss the jury after Bellfield's defence counsel, Jeffrey Samuels QC, argued there had been an "avalanche of publicity adverse to the defendant". Cowles later said she was "extremely hurt and angry that some of the media reporting has robbed me of justice". The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, is applying to bring contempt proceedings against the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror over articles published on 24 June, the day the jury was dismissed. Grieve has moved increasingly to clamp down on alleged transgressions by the media in high-profile cases. In July, the Sun and the Mirror were fined ?18,000 and ?50,000 respectively for contempt of court for their coverage of Christoper Jefferies, who was entirely innocent of any involvement in the murder of Joanna Yeates. Sky News is also facing contempt charges after the attorney general won permission on Monday to bring proceedings over the broadcaster's coverage of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple who were held hostage for over a year by Somali pirates. "This is a permission hearing for an application to bring contempt of court proceedings for coverage in the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror after the conviction of Levi Bellfield for the murder or Milly Dowler on 23 June," said a spokesman for the attorney general's office. "On 24 June his honour Mr Justice Wilkie discharged the jury which was still considering the attempted abduction of Rachel Cowles on the grounds of adverse publicity and referred the matter to the attorney general." ? To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication". ? To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook . Media law Daily Mail Daily Mirror Milly Dowler Daily Mail & General Trust Trinity Mirror Crime Josh Halliday © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds