The Hereford Times has successfully challenged an unlawful court order banning the identification of a former police detective sergeant facing child abduction charges.
Geoffrey Alan Gough first appeared at Gloucester Magistrates on 17 August where he answered to his name in open court and denied charges of abducting and molesting a 13-year-old girl.
District judge Bopa-Rai then imposed the order, under Section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act, because of Gough’s former occupation and the sensitive nature of the charge.
But after Hereford Times deputy editor Richard Winterbourn challenged the order in court a week later, magistrates overturned it allowing Gough to be named.
He told the Bench: “It is a matter of great principle to the newspaper that we are able to report this issue fully.”
The chairman of the Bench, Gregory Jones, agreed with the submission made by the newspaper adding that there was “no real reason for the order to stand”.
Winterbourn told Press Gazette he had not had to challenge a court order in 40 years on the paper.
He said: “At the first court hearing Gough’s name was read out in open court and he answered to it. At that point a Section 11 order cannot be made. It’s daunting for journalists to stand up in front of magistrates, but right was on our side as was the law. We believed the court had made a grave error and it was our duty to redress the problem.
“When we came back to the office I gathered the reporters and said ‘you might go for 20 years and not have this problem, but when it does it’s our duty to make sure it’s overcome’.”
Gough will now appear before magistrates in October when it is expected committal proceedings will begin.