Monday, March 7, 2011

Judges Find U,K. Dailies Contempible

Dominic Grieve, British Conservative politician.Image via WikipediaAssociated Newspapers and News Group Newspapers Ltd., publishers of The Daily Mail and The Sun, respectively, are girding for penalties and costs after judges separately found the dailies violated England's strict liability rule under the 1981 Contempt of Court Act, according to today's The Guardian.

The offending papers in their online editions published photos of Ryan Ward, who was convicted in 2009 of the murder of mechanic Craig Wass, posing with a handgun. Although Ward dispatched the victim by striking him on the head with a brick, Attorney General Dominic Grieve nonetheless complained to the courts that the publications created a substantial risk of contaminating a jury by posting the inflammatory photos.

Mr. Justice Owen and Lord Justice Moses found the newspapers violated the strict liability rule "notwithstanding that publication of the image of the accused with a pistol was a mistake." Counsel for the newspapers had argued any prejudice caused by the publication of the photos was insubstantial and that the courts had adequately warned jurors to steer clear of the Internet. But Justice Moses wasn't buying it, noting that once a story or image is published on the Internet, it is nearly impossible to eradicate.

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