The Sun has apologised after it breached an undertaking given to a judge not to name the animal charities said to be beneficiaries of the estate of Moors Murderer Ian Brady.
The identities of the four charities were revealed by The Sun despite a promise they would not be not be included in its “exclusive” story giving details of Brady’s will.
The serial killer’s executor, solicitor Robin Makin, had failed to win an injunction from Mr Justice Snowden to block publication of an article containing the “secrets” of the last will and testament of Brady, who died aged 79 at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside on 16 May.
The story, published a few days after his death, said Brady wanted his autobiography “published from beyond the grave”, and for proceeds of an auction of photos and paintings to be used to publish the memoirs, with the rest split equally among four pet charities.
An undertaking given by the newspaper’s publishers, News Group Newspapers, meant that although the judge refused to stop the story being published, it could not include the names of the charities.
The names appeared in the online version of the story and in the first edition of the newspaper before being removed.
The inclusion of the names was spotted by the judge, who read the online version following an urgent evening telephone hearing on 19 May which ended in him refusing the injunction sought by Mr Makin.
At a hearing at the High Court on Monday, Jonathan Caplan QC, for the publishers, said what happened was not intentional, and told the judge: “I am afraid it was human error. It was extremely regrettable, and it has been taken extremely seriously by those whom I represent.”
The judge said: “It is frankly astonishing that after litigation has taken place, the person who actually spots that there has been a breach of the undertaking is me reading The Sun’s website at 11 o clock at night.”
Offering apologies “without reservation”, Caplan said changes had been implemented to prevent such a situation arising in the future.
The judge said it was a “serious” breach, but accepted it resulted from “inadvertence” rather than being a “deliberate breach”. Immediate action was taken once it was brought to the newspaper’s attention.
The court, he said, had been given a “full explanation and apology”.