Media warned ahead of Dando murder retrial

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips has warned the media to be “extremely careful” not to publish anything that might prejudice the new trial of Barry George over the murder of Jill Dando.

Speaking in the High Court, Lord Phillips warned newspaper and television reporters about the dangers they face when reporting George’s retrial next year, after his successful appeal against his 2001 conviction of the murder of the BBC presenter.

“We emphasise to the court the potential liabilities laid out in the contempt of court rules,” Lord Phillips said.

He was speaking after George’s barrister William Clegg QC today referred to what he called the “inaccurate” reporting by many newspaper and television outlets.

Clegg told the court there should be no further reporting of the details of the case: “We are concerned that a fair trial may be prejudiced. There has been considerable reporting in the last few weeks, much of it inaccurate.”

Lord Phillips declined to impose a reporting ban but issued a general warning and reiterated his concerns about the recent BBC’s Panorama programme and the hour-long programme which went out on Channel 4 on the eve of the appeal.

He reminded the media that the court was still considering “the propriety of those broadcasts”.

The Panorama broadcast carried interviews with two jurors who expressed their unhappiness with the verdict. The Channel 4 documentary focused on the forensic science evidence that was at the heart of the appeal.

Before the appeal started last week, Nick Ross, Dando’s friend and former colleague at the BBC, wrote an open letter to the judges, which was published by the Daily Mail.

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