Journalists warned of Contempt of Court risk over Hillsborough inquests

Journalists rarely have to worry about prejudicing inquests. Although the hearings are covered by the Contempt of Court Act 1981, it’s unusual for a report to create a substantial risk of serious prejudice … especially as coroners do not often sit with juries.

However, the inquests into the deaths of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough in 1989 are significant enough for the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, to issue a contempt warning to the media and social media users.

The inquests will be heard by Lord Justice Goldring, with a jury and start on Monday, 31 March.

Grieve said: "Editors, publishers and social media users should note that the inquest proceedings are currently active.

"This risk could arise by commentary which may prejudge issues that witnesses may give evidence about, or matters that the jury will need to consider in reaching their verdict.

"The inquests could also be prejudiced by publishing details of material (whatever its source) which may not form part of the evidence at the inquest."

The Attorney General’s Office will be monitoring the coverage of these proceedings. Be warned!

Cleland Thom is author of Internet Law for Journalists 

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