Sunday Life newspaper is challenging a gagging order imposed by Belfast Crown Court to prevent it publishing pictures of a convicted Ulster sex killer.
In 1987 the man concerned battered to death and sexually assaulted 21-year-old Carol Gouldie as she lay dying.
The paper has discovered that the murderer has been allowed out on day release in the city unsupervised in preparation for his final release date, yet to be confirmed.
He was granted a temporary injunction by Judge Stephens which will remain in place until there can be a full hearing.
Judge Stephens believes there would be a ‘real and immediate’threat to his life if his picture was published.
Gerry Simpson QC, who will represent Sunday Life, told the court that there is a public interest in exposing ‘thugs generally’so that ‘the public is aware of who they are and can avoid them.”
Sunday Life editor Jim Flanagan said: ‘This goes to the very heart of the debate over press freedom and freedom of expression for everyone. The overriding concern is public safety. The general public are entitled to know that these criminals are in their midst and more so should be able to recognise them when they see them. It’s a fundamental issue for the media in general. We have no intention of publicising the whereabouts of these individuals we simply want people to know who they are.’
Sunday Life’s, media law expert and former co-editor of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists Walter Greenwood said that the judge’s decision ‘runs contrary’to the custom in Northern Ireland.
He said: ‘The distinguished Lord Justice McCollum upheld the right of Sunday Life to publish the identity of a scout master accused of a sexual offence, which had been suppressed by a Magistrate’s Court to protect the scoutmaster’s ‘physical and mental well-being.'”
He added: ‘To grant an injunction to stop the public knowing what an adult, a convicted sex killer, looks like sets a dangerous precedent. Would not every murderer like to see a ban on his photograph being published?’