Press gagged as blackmail defendant goes unnamed

Questions have been raised over the reporting restrictions imposed on the Royal ‘sex and drugs blackmail’case which was originally shrouded in complete secrecy.

Sparse details only emerged last weekend after a hearing which saw two men remanded in custody, but which took place in secret with press and public excluded.

Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell said: ‘There are questions to be answered about why a straightforward court appearance should be held in secret.

‘It’s perfectly legitimate to have reporting restrictions there to protect the victims of an attempted blackmail. But the defendants should have been named at the preliminary hearing.

‘I thought it was only in banana republics that people were thrown in jail without even being named.”

The Sunday Times broke the story that a member of the Royal family had been allegedly blackmailed.

Sunday Times managing editor Richard Caseby said: ‘It was an old-fashioned scoop which was generated through David Leppard having excellent contacts.

‘Because there was a gagging order, we brought in our lawyers at the earliest opportunity.

‘We wanted to avoid an accusation of contempt and so we chose not to name the Royal involved or indeed the individual’s sex. It was a great exclusive that was followed up everywhere.”

Caseby said the paper had come under no pressure not to publish the story and that it only came out last weekend because this was when the paper had learned about it.

It is understood that the News of the World was the first newspaper to investigate the story after being contacted directly at the start of the year by a source with information about the allegations. The paper chose not to run the story due to insufficient evidence.

The Daily Star claimed on Monday that although it could not name the Royal accused due to a court gagging order, its sister title in Ireland could because it was not bound by British law.

Irish Daily Star editor Ger Colleran said on Wednesday that although he could have named the royal, he had not been ‘a thousand per cent sure’of the person’s identity and so chose not to.

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