Angier: ‘order was clearly wrong’
Anglia Television has successfully challenged a court order that banned the media from disclosing the full address of a man accused of possessing illegal weapons at his home.
The broadcaster was forced to challenge a Section 11 order under the Contempt of Court Act, even though the defendant’s address was already in the pubic domain.
Anglia, with support from the BBC, the East Anglian Daily Times and the Eastern Daily Press, managed to overturn the order, issued during the trial of former police armourer Richard Ashley at Ipswich Crown Court.
Judge David Goodin had imposed the order on the grounds that the weapons stored at Ashley’s address could make it a target for burglars. However, the full address had already been disclosed in open court before the order was issued.
Anglia Television and the other media organisations wrote to the judge pointing this out, drawing his attention to legal precedent that Section 11 orders should be made to assist the “administration of justice” and for no other purpose.
But Judge Goodin initially refused to lift the order, forcing Anglia Television to instruct counsel and appeal at considerable cost. Parent company Granada engaged solicitor William Bennett of Desmond Brown and Adrian Page QC’s chambers. Only after his representation did the judge accept the order as invalid.
Anglia Television’s news editor, John Angier, said it was a shame the broadcaster had to go to the trouble and expense of getting a barrister into court. “The dilemma for us was that without a barrister, there was no way the judge was going to budge. There are too many dubious orders made in court to allow this to go unchallenged,” he said.
“This was a very simple point of law. The order was clearly wrong. But it seems to us the media has a duty to go as far as possible to challenge these things when we think the law’s on our side, and not allow ourselves to be walked over,” he added.
The case continues.
By Wale Azeez