There’s nothing in Google.
He must be guilty as sin!
Ministers are seeking powers to make newspapers remove from their online archives stories about the criminal past of people facing trial.
Editors fear the move could create a black hole in the historical record by striking out previous convictions.
The planned new law is part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill now before parliament. It has been designed to restrict jurors using the internet to research a case, mid-trial.
The jurors will in future face a possible prison sentence if they are caught trying to delve into the defendant’s past. But, to make it harder for them to do so, Attorney General Dominic Grieve wants the power to issue a so-called take-down order to UK newspapers.
Editors who ignored a request would face imprisonment or an unlimited fine.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it meant defence lawyers could push for a complete ban on every article previously published about a defendant. He said:
The new provisions could have a highly restrictive effect upon the freedom to publish far beyond that intended and ultimately be capable of creating black holes in the historic record.
In theory, the information could be returned to the archive once the trial is complete, but it is feared some papers would not have the resources.
The laws would apply to UK newspapers, but not the likes of the Huffington Post, which receives millions of hits in Britain. Twitter would not be covered, either.