Jury Delivers Damning Verdict…Government abandon’s its ideas to censor newspaper archives for information pertinent to court trials

Posted: 1 July, 2014 in Sub-Judicy
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dominic grieve The government has abandoned plans to give itself powers to order media organisations to remove articles from their online archives. A clause in the criminal justice and courts bill would have enabled the attorney general, currently Dominic Grieve QC, to order newspapers and other publishers to take down past articles on the grounds that their continued presence would create a danger of contempt if jurors in a court case searched for information on the internet.Media organisations, including the Guardian, had opposed the move. In written evidence to MPs last year, they said:

We fear that the introduction of statutory powers could lead to the use of notices becoming standard practice leading to the courts and media becoming inundated with requests to take down material.

This has serious practical implications for the resourcing and maintenance of and public access to the archives of both national and regional media.

The plan originated in a proposal from the Law Commission two years ago which argued that courts should be armed with powers compelling media organisations to take down old stories from electronic archives in order to remove potentially prejudicial material.

A statement from the attorney general’s office confirmed the decision to abandon the proposal. It said:

The governmen recognises the disquiet surrounding the proposal. Given that this measure was designed to assist the media, it is significant that representatives of the media consider that this provision does not do so.

Whilst the government considers that the notice provision would be an improvement for the media, courts and attorneys general alike, it is satisfied that the existing law will continue to provide satisfactory protection to the integrity of legal proceedings.

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