Sunday, 27 November 2011

Law: contempt of court - case study

Chandlers case:

A contempt of court action has been launched against Sky News as it is alleged they breached a court order. It is said they reported the liberation of the Chandlers (couple who was held hostages by Somalian pirates for 13 months) before they reached a safe place. A safe place in this case would have been outside Somalia, and Sky reported the news while they were still in the country. If found guilty, Sky will be fined.

Christopher Jefferies case:

The Daily Mirror was fined £50 000 and the Sun £18 000 for contempt of court, “vilifying” Christopher Jefferies in the Jo Yeates trial. Jefferies was arrested on suspicions of murder, was kept in custody for three days and was then released without charge. Both papers asserted that Jefferies was linked to some paedophile offences and a 1974 murder case, which is certainly one of the most defamatory statements you could ever publish. It was also suggested that during his career as a teacher he sometimes acted inappropriately with students. All these allegations and statements were untrue.

Jefferies accepted a public apology from eight newspapers, as well as "substantial damages".

If Jefferies had been tried, all these allegations would have prevented him from getting a fair trial.

This could be the first time a paper is sued for contempt of court when the suspect doesn't end up being tried.


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