Media banned from identifying witnesses in obscene pics case

PA Mediapoint 

All the witnesses in a court case involving a man accused of sending indecent or obscene photographs of his lover to her employers have been given anonymity by magistrate.

Magistrates at Gloucester were told that the woman's job was of such "a highly sensitive nature" that it was necessary to ban the media from publishing any details of where she worked.

The court made the order – under Section 46 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 – following a request by the prosecution at a hearing on Wednesday.
It prohibits the media from publishing the names, addresses, places of work or still or moving picture of any of the witnesses in the proceedings.

The defendant, 62-year-old Gerald Hinnigan, of Carterton, Oxfordshire, denies sending the pictures to the woman's bosses between December 1 and December 31 last year.
He is alleged to have taken photos of the woman, a divorcee with two children, having sex with other women.
He is accused of sending six photographs of an indecent or obscene nature to her employer in a package.

It was not specified in court whether the pictures he allegedly took were the same pictures he is alleged to have sent the woman's employer.
Hinnigan elected trial by jury, and was given conditional bail as the case was adjourned to November 13, when it will be formally committed to the Crown Court.

The latest move in the case came after Peter Ashby, prosecuting, asked at a hearing at Gloucester Magistrates Court on Friday last week for an order banning the press and public from attending the trial on the grounds that national security could be compromised.

But Recorder Shamim Qureshi dismissed the application, saying he did not consider national security would be at risk.

A comment PA's Media Lawyer website said: "The order made by magistrates under section 46 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act seems at first sight to be a mis-use of the legislation.

"Section 46 is intended to protect vulnerable witnesses whose evidence, or whose co-operation with a party in a case, is likely to be diminished by their fear of being identified as witnesses.
In this case, however, it seems the order was sought to protect 'national security' because of the nature of the employment of the woman in the pictures."

 

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