Eastern Daily Press strikes reporting deal with courts

PUBLISHED July 13, 2006

A landmark deal has been brokered between the Eastern Daily Press crown courts in Norfolk which reduce the number of orders imposing reporting restrictions journalists.

The move follows the case Norwich judge who imposed a 11 Contempt of Court Act order reporting the case of a child pornography seller because he might have give evidence in pending trials overseas.

Judge Simon Bartham had the identification of Mark Seel, admitted to making, possessing distributing indecent photographs children and had a number of previous convictions.

The media eventually succeeded identifying Seel following intervention by the EDP and the News of the EDP assistant editor Paul Durrant and deputy editor Tim Williams with the presiding judge Norwich circuit, Judge Peter who agreed to write to his fellow regarding the guidelines.

A key breakthrough was that the courts in Norfolk have agreed to media if they want to make representations before any gagging order is Also included in the recommendations was that in common Magistrates Courts, Crown administrators should provide editors with an adult defendant's a day before they are due to appear where an order is made the court clarify the particulars of the case can or can not be reported.

Durrant said: "The courts have adopted a helpful approach in dealing with our concerns.

"It was hugely refreshing to talk to a judge who was keen to learn about the problems the media has in reporting the courts, especially when so many lawyers seem to reach for S39s or S11s as a matter of course these days to protect their clients, and to take time out to remind his fellow judges of best practice.

"This understanding should be useful to us in the future to make sure restrictive orders are properly debated and properly constructed."

The agreement stipulated that an order must state its precise scope, the time at which it shall cease to have effect if appropriate and the specific purpose of making the order.