Case against Jersey Post reporter is dropped after 6 months

Jersey Evening Post reporter Jonny Pearce, who was arrested while covering the football World Cup, has finally had a court case against him dropped due to lack of evidence, six months after the alleged incident.

His lawyer Nuno Santos-Costa said that Pearce's human rights may have been breached as he had to wait so long for his case to be brought to court. He successfully argued that because so much time had passed it would be difficult to find a reliable witness. Pearce, 25, was arrested while interviewing Portuguese football fans celebrating their victory over Holland that secured Portugal a place in the quarter-finals.

At a previous hearing on 17 November, Pearce had entered a plea of not guilty to the offence of obstructing States police officer Andrew Bisson on 25 June, 2006.

Crown advocate Stephen Baker said there was not enough evidence to continue with the prosecution against the reporter. The Post splashed the story on its front page. Santos-Costa said: "Article six of the human rights legislation particularly sets out that everyone has the right to a fair trial and the potential problem with Jonny was he was arrested six months before. In Jonny's case the police officer said there had been a witness, but he couldn't remember who she was or exactly what she said. "If it had been closer to the event we could have put together a proper defence, but he was clearly impaired by the fact matters had taken so long."

Post editor Chris Bright said: "As well as the time that lapsed we defended it on the basis that we thought the police had acted excessively in arresting him in the first place. "Although we didn't get to the point of having to mount a defence because the prosecution withdrew the charge, it certainly would have been possible for us to argue the human rights aspect of Jonny having been prevented from going about his lawful business. "The hard part from Jonny's point of view was that he had it hanging over his head for six months before they decided to go ahead with prosecution which was not acceptable. This is the first time in living memory we have ever had a reporter arrested."

Jersey Police would not comment.

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