The prison service has granted an order restricting all media from publishing photographs of “any serving prisoner” at a Northern Ireland Prisoner Assessment unit following a legal battle with the Sunday Life.
The High Court in Belfast yesterday granted an injunction preventing parent company Independent News and Media from printing unpixellated photos of murderer and rapist Ken Callaghan taken two years ago at Belfast’s Crumlin Road Prisoner Assessment Unit.
And the ruling states that the media must give the Prison Service two days’ notice of their intention of publishing photos of prisoners at the pre-release scheme – so that they have the option of seeking an injunction.
Callaghan, 41, was jailed in 1988 for murdering and raping 22-year-old Carol Gouldie at her Colvil Street home in east Belfast.
Sunday Life editor Jim Flanagan told sister title the Belfast Telegraph: “I’m deeply disappointed with the verdict and we will be considering our options in the coming days.
“The ban on publishing any photographs of inmates on a pre-release scheme without giving two days’ notice is extremely wide-ranging and could impede journalists’ legitimate investigation of crime.”
Sunday Life argued that publication of the man’s picture would allow the public to avoid him after his release.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Stephens ordered a permanent ban against the publication of Callaghan’s photograph or any information identifying his addresses, workplace or any location he frequents when released from prison.
He said he believed there would be ‘disruption’to his home and private life through ‘acts of violence’if his precise whereabouts was made known through publication of unpixelated photographs.
Former editor of legal textbook Macnae’s Law for Journalists Walter Greenwood wrote today in the Sunday Life sister paper the Belfast Teleghraph that the ruling “will seem a startling restriction on freedom of expression”.
He wrote: “The case is not one where the original offence was committed by a child seeking to start a fresh life as an adult.
“Callaghan is man of 41 and many people will feel they ought to know that he is living in their midst, and what he looks like, lest they feel, rightly or wrongly, that he might pose a danger to the public at large.
“There are precedents however. In the past courts in England have imposed a ban on the new identity not only of Thompson and Venables the Liverpool killers of the child James Bulger.
“A similar injunction was granted to protect Maxine Carr, former girlfriend of Ian Huntley, the Soham child killer, on the grounds that she had a right to privacy, a concept wide enough, it was held, to include a person’s physical and psychological integrity.
“Mr Justice Stephens, while acknowledging Sunday Life’s desire to protect the public, held that there could be disruption to Callaghan’s home, family life and connections.”