Reporter wins battle over charged officer's address

A barrister asked a Daily Post reporter during a court break not to publish the address of his client, a police officer — even though it had been read out in open court.

Gareth Hughes, who has been reporting for the Post in North Wales for the past 27 years, replied that he had every right to use the address, that the case was of considerable public interest and he saw no reason why he should not use the address. The barrister then said he would "get an order".

But the chairman of the bench, Keith Sanderson, backed Hughes, saying: "This is an open court."

The officer, Mark Treleaven-Jones, was charged with common assault. He had been hit over the head with a bottle in a Llandudno nightclub while he was off duty and had allegedly put his attacker in an armlock on the ground and punched him in the head while two uniformed colleagues attempted to carry out an arrest.

They had been so concerned about the amount of force Treleaven-Jones had used that they reported him to their superiors. They also claimed he had been drunk.

The barrister formally applied for the threatened order after the lunch adjournment, under Section 31 of the Contempt of Court Act, claiming the defendant was concerned for the safety of his wife and two children and referring to the "somewhat sensitive nature of the case".

Hughes, supported by freelance Glyn Bellis, argued there were no good grounds for an order. He asserted that a police officer should be treated no differently from anyone else unless there were, for example, security restrictions.

He quoted case law and stressed the need for open justice, saying the Daily Post was anxious to retain the right to publish.

The chairman did ask the journalists not to publish some sensitive details about the officer’s special duties.

Daily Post editor Alastair Machray said: "Justice, if it is to be effective, must be seen to be done. Had we not included an address it would have been obvious to our readers that we were giving a police officer special treatment not normally accorded to others.

"Gareth’s action in defence of our reputation and in refusing to be browbeaten by a barrister was that of an experienced and responsible newspaperman."

by Jean Morgan

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