Why Sun’s 'I killed them' front page on alleged EastEnders actress killer was safe under Contempt of Court

I think most people would agree that The Sun’s front page story about the arrest of Arthur Simpson-Kent for an alleged triple murder stood a chance of prejudicing his trial!

After all, the heading ‘I killed them’, and the accompanying story about the killing of ex-EastEnders actress Sian Blake and her two sons, certainly created a substantial risk of serious prejudice.

So will The Sun get away with it?

Yes – definitely.

And so will other national media who published stories that might be expected to raise the Attorney General’s eyebrows.

Their coverage was safe, because proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 were inactive.

Legally, proceedings are activated by an arrest, or the issuing of a warrant.

But Simpson-Kent was arrested in Ghana, so COCA was irrelevant.

And the UK authorities do not need a warrant to extradite him from a non-EU country. The request is dealt with by official papers.

If the Ghanaian court grants extradition, Simpson-Kent will be brought back to the UK and charged. And that’s when proceedings will become active.

The situation would be different if he had been arrested within the EU. Then the issue of a European Arrest Warrant would activate proceedings.

Cleland Thom is a media law consultant and trainer

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