Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Call in the lawyers

Posted in Broadcasting and Media by Adam Westbrook on April 27, 2007

I’m in the early stages of revising for my upcoming Media Law exam. It’s a vital element of becoming a qualified journalist because a knowledge of the law is vital when covering many stories, mainly to stop you getting into trouble for libel or contempt of court.

Right now, I can’t remember enough to solve this “media law issue of the week” as our lecturer likes to coin it – maybe a reader with a bit more know-how can help out.

Check out these pictures, printed in papers, websites and broadcast on television yesterday:

Hugh Grant in the Star

It accompanied the story that Hugh Grant had been arrested for allegedly throwing a tin of baked beans at a photographer. The photograph (taken by the photographer) shows the actor apparently throwing the beans.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but the photograph is evidence. With Hugh Grant arrested, the case is technically “active” which means contempt of court rules apply.

And publishing/broadcasting these images could affect the decision of a potential juror in the case.

So why are they allowed to print them? Or are they not – and am I also in Contempt for linking to one of the images?

Answers on a postcard!

One Response

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  1. Chris Doidge said, on April 27, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Well… seeing as this is evidence, the jury would be shown it anyway. Therefore, seeing it in advance would be unlikely to change their opinion of it.

    Technically, they are in contempt. BUT… they will have published knowing there was absolutely no danger of the judge hauling them up for an explanation. The threshold for ‘influencing a potential jury’ is ludicrously high. Just remember the Suffolk murders and media coverage of Ian Huntley (including the broadcast of an interview with him by a BBC journalist which ended up being used as evidence).


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