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August 22, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:15am

Peterborough Telegraph reporter wins right to name school employee jailed for pupil assault

By PA Media Lawyer

A regional journalist has prevented a court order which would have stopped him naming a special school employee who was jailed for assaulting a pupil.

Stephen Briggs, chief reporter at the Peterborough Telegraph, successfully challenged a Section 45 order to name teaching assistant Gary Speight.

The Crown Prosecution Service applied for the order at a sentencing hearing at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court, arguing it would protect the victim.

However, Briggs argued that the order would prevent the newspaper from running the story and highlighting a serious breach of trust.

It was reported that the assault saw 50-year-old Speight bend the boy’s fingers back and place him in an arm lock, the incident was spotted by teachers from the Phoenix School who reported the incident.

Speight pleaded not guilty but was found guilty following a trial.

Briggs told HTFP: “When the case started, the prosecution asked for a Section 45 order to be put in place to protect the identity of the youngster involved.

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“The District Judge asked if we had any representations to make – I said that we don’t wish to identify the child, because they were particularly vulnerable because the incident happened at a special school, but under the terms of Section 45 we would not be able to name the school involved.

“This would also prevent us from naming the defendant, and prevent us from running the story.

“The judge agreed, and said while he would be making the Section 45 order, we would be able to publish the school involved.

“While on the face of it the assault was not too serious in the injuries caused to the youngster, because of the breach of trust involved – especially at a special school against such a vulnerable victim – we thought it was an important story to tell.”

Speight was jailed for ten weeks for common assault after trial.

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