Press protest overturns ban on identifying officer

Protests from the press persuaded a judge to overturn a ban on publishing the name and address of a police officer charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The ban was put in place by magistrates when the officer appeared at an earlier hearing. The justices made the order because they felt that naming the officer and giving his address in reports of the hearings involving the death by dangerous driving charge might prejudice the officer’s chance of a fair trial in separate and unrelated proceedings in a different magistrates’ court.

Nicholas Alway of Farrer & Co on behalf of Newsquest and Mike Dodd of Media Lawyer and the Press Association wrote to the crown court judge arguing that the ban was inappropriate.

The judge agreed, saying that it was “almost an insult” to suggest that a bench of magistrates could not deal with their case without being prejudiced by the causing death by dangerous driving charge.

A postponement order on the reporting of a common assault charge before the magistrates remains in place – which is why Press Gazette can only include limited details in an article that links the two cases.

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