Media win right to report Tabak violent porn claims

News organisations defeated a court bid to block the publication of Vincent Tabak’s sordid sex life and interest in violent pornography after his conviction for the murder of Joanna Yeates.

Details of the police investigation which revealed that Tabak had paid for sex with a prostitute and was obsessed with extreme internet pornography emerged during his trial at Bristol Crown Court.

In an attempt to put this information before the jury, prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC made two applications to Mr Justice Field, disclosing what investigators had discovered about the well-educated and apparently respectable Dutchman.

The judge held that jurors could not be given details of Tabak’s sordid secrets.

But he also said the information could not be published until the end of his trial, and made two orders under Section 4(2) and Section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 prohibiting publication.

After the jury retired to consider its verdict, Lickley applied to the judge to continue both orders beyond the end of Tabak’s trial.

Police were carrying out further inquiries into what was found on the computer hard drives and were yet to question Tabak about it, he said, adding: “We have sought to consider and exercise caution at this stage.

“Your Lordship is aware to the concern the Crown have and the nature of any further investigation and we asked yesterday that there be a continuation of orders in the context of that.”

Lickley, who admitted he was talking cryptically, was told by the judge to “state the basis of the application” in open court.

The barrister replied: “I have concern about what I can say.”

The Press Association and the Bristol Evening Post had both made written submissions to the judge opposing Lickley’s application.

Barrister Adam Wolanski, who was jointly instructed by The Times, Daily Telegraph and The Sun newspapers and BBC, also addressed the judge opposing the prosecution application.

William Clegg QC, for Tabak, said he did not oppose the lifting of both orders.

In discussions with Lickley, Justice Field said the key to determining the success of the application was whether the proceedings Tabak may face in the future were “pending or imminent”.

If they were not then the court did not have any jurisdiction to continue the orders beyond the current trial, the judge said.

“Accordingly I am of the view that I do not have jurisdiction to make the order applied for. After the verdict, unless there is a fundamental change of circumstances, both of the orders will fall away.”

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