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Local paper journalist wins right to report child abuse allegations against 'world's number one' Michael Jackson impersonator

Lawyers representing a performer who claims to be “the world’s number one Michael Jackson impersonator” tried to persuade two courts to give him anonymity when he appeared on child abuse charges.

Junior reporter Lewis Berrill of the Yellow Advertiser faced having to make two challenges, at the Magsistrates’ Court and Crown Court, before he was able to name Adrian Navindre Parasram – known as Navi, who appears with a Michael Jackson tribute band – in reports of the case.

Parasram, 45, from Ilford, Rebridge, and four co-defendants are charged with child cruelty against two boys. One of the other defendants is also charged with indecently assaulting two boys. All the offences are alleged to have been committed in the 1990s.

All parties deny all charges. They are due to stand trial in January, according to the Yellow Advertiser.

The newspaper, which is based in Basildon, Essex, went to some lengths to confirm that Parasram is in fact Navi, doing checks through Companies House before going to court to verify that they are the same person.

Berrill, 24, who went into journalism after obtaining a humanities degree at university, failed when he sought to challenge the application for anonymity at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on 10 May.

Parasram’s lawyers had sought an anonymity order after spotting Berrill and freelance photographer Martin Doulton outside the court.

The lawyers asked the magistrates to impose a temporary reporting restriction, saying they were going to the High Court to apply for an injunction on “human rights grounds” and that the interim order was necessary to give the High Court time to make a decision.

The court made an order, saying that it was doing so in order to allow the High Court application to go ahead.

Berrill said the Crown Prosecution Service had later confirmed to him that an application for an injunction was made at the High Court – but was then withdrawn almost immediately afterwards.

He renewed his challenge to anonymity or any other reporting restriction order when the case came up at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday last week.

There Parasram’s lawyers argued that he should be given anonymity under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, and that anonymity for the defendants was also necessary under sections 45A and 46 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, to protect the identities of the alleged victims.

The defence lawyers argued that publicity around the case, and naming the defendants, might dissuade witnesses from giving evidence.

Berrill, who handed the court a letter from Yellow Advertiser editor Mick Ferris, told Judge Patricia Lees that the defendants’ previous request had proved vexatious and that they had not demonstrated that there was any justification for anonymity or reporting restrictions.

He was supported by the Crown Prosecution Service, which pointed out that as the defendants had been named in open court at the magistrates’ court, they could not now be given anonymity under section 11, because the information was already in the public domain.

The judge made a temporary anonymity order – then on Wednesday refused to impose reporting restrictions and ruled that the defendants could be identified.

The resulting story became the Yellow Advertiser’s most-viewed online article last week, and attracted readers from across the globe, according to Hold the Front Page.

Comments

2 thoughts on “Local paper journalist wins right to report child abuse allegations against 'world's number one' Michael Jackson impersonator”

  1. Good work. Defendants don’t seem to realise that the presumption in favour of open justice is actually for their own benefit.

    A prosecutor or judge who has a propensity to push their luck, bend the rules or engage in outright corruption or unfairness is far more likely to do so if they are given a guarantee that none of what they say or do is going to be publicly reported or scrutinised. Secret courts are an open invitation to corruption.

    Scrutiny keeps everybody honest. Defendants trying to cloak their own court cases in secrecy are like turkeys voting for Christmas.

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