The attorney general has warned the media to be careful in their reporting in the wake of the arrest of Dale Cregan, who was arrested on suspicion of murdering two unarmed women police officers in Manchester on Tuesday.
Dominic Grieve's office issued a note to the press and broadcasters late on Tuesday after what it described as "intense media coverage over the shootings of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone" in the immediate aftermath of their murder.Oh, that wretched media! What are they doing now, those knaves?
Are they doorstepping the grieving relatives? Hacking the phones of senior prosecutors to find out details? Paying underworld villains for their tawdry revelations?
At that point several broadcasters and newspapers were reporting emotional allegations made by the Manchester chief constable about the alleged circumstances of the two officers' deaths and similar remarks by made by David Cameron.
Nevertheless, some newspapers carried the quotes in their print editions on Wednesday.Ah. Oh. Ummm...
The attorney general's office warned that Cregan has now been arrested on suspicion of the murders and the earlier deaths of two others and that newspapers should be minded of "the risks in publishing material that ... risks interfering with the administration of justice".
Such advisory notices are normally confidential to the media, but the attorney general's office agreed that its existence could be made public when contacted by the Guardian.Which just goes to show just how appallingly dim the people in Grieve's office must be...
The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Guardian and the Daily Mail, were among those printing comments made by the Manchester chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, and the prime minister.Well, indeed! The only surprise is that one paper didn't! Expecting the media not to print or broadcast the very media announcement they's been called in to broadcast, or the utterings of the leader of our government, is utter folly!
What are they thinking?
However, a more circumspect Times reported that it contacted Grieve's office on Tuesday evening and "was given advice that constrained the newspaper from reporting the full comments of both the prime minister and Sir Peter" because they had both made "direct allegations about an individual".And thus does the office of the Attorney General sum up the ludicrous nature of our contempt laws – we all heard the statements on live TV, they were spoken by people who one would expect to know the law better than a roomful of hacks, but they must not report them, and we must be prevented from reading about them….
It's a wonder they aren't ordering the public to whack themselves over the head with a mallet in an attempt to induce amnesia!