Friday 21 September 2012

Put Your Own House In Order First!

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!


Anonymous said...

The only reason they came out with that bilge is that they have to do something to justify their existence.

Woman on a Raft said...

It's an in-fight. The A-G made a point of prosecuting The Spectator when it ran the Rod Liddle opinion-piece which pointed out the fact, already in the public domain for several years and a quoted case in legal discussions, that one of the defendants already had a conviction for a racist run-in with a policeman.

The judge acted as if Liddle had exposed a deep dark secret rather than something which had already been through an appeal when the defendants said they couldn't get a fair trail because....they had been splashed in the media.

Rubbish, said the CofA, I'm sure the jury isn't at all influenced even if it recognizes you.

The judge in the Spectator case reacted by throwing his petticoat over his head and threatening to abandon the trial, blaming The Spectator and going on only when the jurors swore they never read the Spectator. Probably truthfully.

Both the Spectator and the papers today were doing no more than reporting the facts presented by appointed legal spokesmen.

Frankie said...

Julia: I fully understand why Sir Peter Fahy made the comments he did at the press conference, considering the appalling events of the day but...

Donning my defence barrister's wig for a moment I would be salivating at the prospect of running a defence based upon my client's inability to receive a fair trial and that those comments and others, made and reported in the media by other persons would undermine my client - who is entitled to a defence, should he plead not guilty...

Quite frankly, I was astonished at what Sir Peter said to journalists. It could be judged to be extremely prejudicial in my view.

You are right, however, in pointing out the curious double standards evident here.


JuliaM said...

"It's an in-fight."

And we'll see more of this in the future, I'll bet...

"Quite frankly, I was astonished at what Sir Peter said to journalists."

Doesn't it just go to show the quality and calibre of the top brass? He should know better. He's paid on the basis that he DOES know better!

UK Fred said...

Come on, Julia.

We can't have people in the A-G's office who are smarter than the A-G, can we?