Gag order preventing naming of convicted barrister - Press Gazette

Gag order preventing naming of convicted barrister

A gagging order is preventing the publication of the identity of a distinguished barrister found guilty of criminal offences.

The order was made to protect his children.

Today a High Court judge said a full hearing should be held to consider whether the ban should be lifted.

He gave the press and media 48 hours to indicate that they wished to challenge the ban, which could otherwise become permanent.

The barrister had appealed to the High Court in London against a conviction on charges of harassment arising out of a domestic situation.

Nothing more can currently be reported about the case without being in contempt of court.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mrs Justice Dobbs, sitting at the High Court in London, today ruled that the barrister was “rightly convicted” and rejected his latest appeal.

But they said he still could not be named because there are children involved in the case.

This is despite the Court of Appeal on Friday lifting a reporting ban on the press naming a man who downloaded indecent images of children.

It was originally imposed in the case of Raymond Cortis, 45, from Upper Norwood, Croydon, on the basis that his own youngsters were likely to suffer “significant harm” if he was named.

Following a challenge by media organisations, a panel of five appeal judges in the criminal division overturned the banning order.

Sir Igor Judge said: “In our judgment it is impossible to over-emphasise the importance to be attached to the ability of the media to report criminal trials.

“In simple terms this represents the embodiment of the principle of open justice in a free country.”

But today Lord Justice Thomas said the banning order must remain in place in the case of barrister “C”, pending any further challenge by the press and media.

It was originally imposed under the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act at a London magistrates’ court to protect the barrister’s children from being identified and possibly suffering harm.

It was continued throughout all subsequent hearings right up to the High Court where it remained pending clarification of the law in the Cortis case.

But today journalists were told the gag must remain in place, at least for the time being, because C’s lawyers were still arguing that he should not be named – despite the Cortis judgment.

Anthony Speaight QC, appearing for C, told the judge that the barrister’s case could be distinguished from Cortis, justifying continuing the ban.

The judge ruled the issue should be decided separately at an urgent hearing in the near future.

He said: “There is an important question as to whether this particular judgment should be reported.”

He then gave the press and media until 10am on Wednesday, February 6 to say whether they want to challenge the ban.