14.9.05

Paper cleared over naming teenage murder suspect


As MediaBeak reported last April, the Edinburgh Evening News and Aberdeen Press and Journal faced prosecution after naming Luke Mitchell who was subsequently found guilty for the murder of Jodi Jones. Mitchell was 15 at the time.

Charges were brought under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act which prevents suspects under the age of 16 being named in relation to "proceedings in a court". As the papers argued (in MediaBeak's view correctly) at the time, this did not apply to the preceding period between arrest and charge. However, the crown office and procurator fiscal formed the view that section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Act should extend to the pre-trial part of proceedings.

At a hearing earlier this year, the Aberdeen Press and Journal was cleared of its charges after the judge ruled that the wording of the Act was 'unambiguous' - the proceedings in question were indeed proceedings IN court and did not extend to police investigations. The Crown appealed but the court upheld the view of the judge that while arrest and charge may be part of the chain of events that result in 'proceedings in a court' they were not themselves such proceedings.

The Evening News was still faced with similar charges and an appearance at Edinburgh's Sheriff Court but the prosecution this week finally saw sense and decided to drop proceedings.

As discussed by MediaBeak last year, had the report contained substantially prejudicial material then there may still have been cause for contempt charges but the article was factual and merely confirmed the name.

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