Court clears Press & Journal over naming of murderer

By Hamish Mackay

The publisher of the Press & Journal , Aberdeen, has been
cleared of breaking the law by identifying a 15-year-old schoolboy
accused of murder.

Aberdeen Journals was found not guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court of
breaching Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act which
bans the publication of details which would lead to the identification
of anyone under 16 involved in criminal proceedings before a court.

The Press and Journal carried a report on 15 April 2004, headlined "Boyfriend charged with murdering schoolgirl Jodi"

and identified him as Luke Mitchell.

The
Crown claimed the article had contained details calculated to lead to
identifying Mitchell, against whom court proceedings were active.

Fiscal
depute Caroline Mackay maintained proceedings were active because a
petition had been granted for Mitchell's arrest at Edinburgh Sheriff
Court on 7 April.

However, Paul Cullen QC, for Aberdeen Journals,
said Mitchell, recently jailed for life for the murder of Jodi Jones,
had not appeared in court when the article was published and it had not
mentioned the warrant.

Therefore, the paper had not broken the law.

Speaking
after the not-guilty verdict, Press and Journal editor Derek Tucker
said: "Not only do we not breach the law, but we do not breach the
spirit of the law. The wording of this particular section is so precise
that we thought it inconceivable that it was considered to have broken
the law.

"Clearly, as Mr Cullen pointed out, the fiscal had
confused the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act with the Criminal
Procedure(Scotland) Act."

● Scotsman Publications, as publisher
of the Edinburgh Evening News, faces trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court
next Thursday on a charge of contravening the Criminal Procedure
(Scotland) Act on 14 April, 2004, by naming Luke Mitchell in a news
story on the day he was charged with murder.

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