Tuesday 13 October 2009

Help? The legal questions raised by Guardian gagging

There's a great summary of the Guardian's reporting parliament gag by Carter-Ruck on behalf of Trafigura over at the Online Journalism blog in case you missed today's news.

But I'd be interested in any help answering the following legal questions.

1. Does anyone have any legal insight into Carter-Ruck's case for arguing that the Guardian's reporting of parliament would have been Contempt of Court? Did Internet coverage, and specifically Twitter's hashtagging frenzy, actually make a legal difference to the case or would they have lost the appeal in the High Court anyway?

2. From the BBC website: "No injunction was served on the BBC, but ever since the Spycatcher case in the 1980s news organisations which knowingly breach an injunction served on others are in contempt of court, so the corporation too felt bound by the Guardian injunction."

This implies there is a legal definition of a 'news organisation'. If there is such a thing when was it last tested in court and does it make any sense anymore? Presumably, the Spectator breached the injunction under law. But who else would qualify as having breached it?

Any links, comments etc greatly appreciated.

  • This is useful background on the scope of injunctions but obviously is not specific.
  • Roy Greenslade says 'the action of the firm at the heart of the case' was 'entirely undone by the freedom of the internet'. But that's all we get for the time-being.


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