News organisations win bid to name Croydon child-porn offender

Top judges today lifted a court order which banned the press from identifying a man who downloaded indecent images of children from the internet because his own youngsters would be likely to suffer “significant harm” if he was named.

Following a challenge by media organisations, a panel of five judges in the criminal division of the Court of Appeal discharged an injunction made last year by a judge at Croydon Crown Court in the case of defendant Raymond Cortis, 45, from Upper Norwood.

The successful appeal was brought by Croydon Advertiser former parent company Trinity Mirror, Times Newspapers, News Group Newspapers and Newsquest.

Sir Igor Judge, announcing the court’s decision in London today, said: “In our judgment it is impossible to over-emphasise the importance to be attached to the ability of the media to report criminal trials.

“In simple terms this represents the embodiment of the principle of open justice in a free country.

“An important aspect of the public interest in the administration of criminal justice is that the identity of those convicted and sentenced for criminal offences should not be concealed.”

Cortis, a man of previous good character, pleaded guilty in December

2006 to 20 counts of making or possessing indecent images of children, which he downloaded from the internet.

Last April he was made the subject of a community order for three years with requirements for supervision by a probation officer and attendance at a sex offender group work programme.

Sir Igor said that the media organisations appealed against the banning order made under the Contempt of Court Act by Judge Warwick McKinnon at the Crown Court on April 11 last year and varied by him on June 7.

The effect of that order “was to restrain the media from identifying him and his convictions on the basis that were he to be identified, his children, who were neither witnesses in the proceedings against him nor victims of his offences, would be likely to suffer significant harm”.

The panel of appeal judges, which included Sir Mark Potter, president of the Family Division of the High Court, allowed the appeal last November, but delayed discharging the order until today to allow work to be done with Cortis’ two children “with a view to enable them better to cope with the public identification following its earlier postponement”.

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