A trainee reporter, asked by a defence solicitor to keep a defendant’s name out of the paper, responded by challenging the attempted gag in open court. Shrewsbury Chronicle trainee Vickie Woodward, 23, told the solicitor concerned to contact her news desk when he made his request.
She then set about preparing her objections for the expected attempt to impose a Section 11 gagging order under the Contempt of Court Act.
Robert Darren Seewoosaha appeared before Shrewsbury magistrates court last week charged with stealing a packet of cigarettes.
Magistrates heard the defence solicitor’s request in private, then asked Woodward if she wanted to address the court. Armed with textbook McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, she pointed out that Section 11 orders should be used only where publication would affect the administration of justice, and not for the benefit of the defendant.
She also quoted the Queen Bench Division’s declaration that Evesham magistrates had been wrong to stop publication of the address of a defendant who feared being harassed by his former wife.
Magistrates declined the Section 11 request.