Late legal snag forces IPC to pulp top women's mag

Woman magazine had to be pulped hours before it was due to hit the news-stands this week after it ran into legal problems.

The IPC weekly usually sells around 640,000 copies but distribution was halted at the eleventh hour on Monday after it was believed that a feature article involving a child broke an injunction.

The legal problems are thought to concern a story about a child whose mother was dying of cancer. It was feared the article breached an all-media injunction, issued at the end of last year, by identifying some of the people involved.

The problem was spotted at 7pm on Monday night as the magazine was about to be taken from the printers to the news-stands.

The editorial team had to frantically redo the issue and have the entire issue reprinted. It was expected to arrive on the news-stands by Thursday – two days late.

Magazine sources said that a weekly such as Woman was likely to achieve between 30 and 40 per cent of its total sale in its first two days on the news-stand and that advertisers may ask

to be reimbursed if sales are significantly lower than usual.

Woman normally hits the streets the same day as Woman’s Own, Bella and Best. When it comes out on Thursday it will compete with Take a Break, Chat and That’s Life.

The costly decision by IPC to pulp and reprint this week’s issue will

reignite concern among publishers and journalists that methods of making them aware of wide-ranging injunctions are flawed.

Lawyers have long argued that a system should be introduced that gives the media access to a comprehensive database on court injunctions.

Media lawyer Julian Pike, of Farrer and Co, said: “It is understandable that a magazine editor might inadvertently overlook this issue as it won’t be an everyday occurrence for them. It supports the idea of having a central system so an editor can check whether an order is in place or not.”

The injunction which caused problems for Woman was ordered under section 12 (1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 and Section 97 (2) of the Children Act 1989 and will remain in place until 2009.

It imposes a cross-media ban on the publication or broadcast of the child’s name and address, the name of anywhere the child is being educated

or treated, the identity of a carer or

any picture of the child or the first defendant.

Mary Stevens

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