Open Justice Week: Scottish court refuses permission to tweet; English High Court allows media access to phone hacking court documents

A quick update on recent open justice themed developments.

The Open Justice UK group has been refused permission to live tweet a case in Scotland, as Cristiana Theodoli (@_cric) explains here. While journalists have applied to tweet and tweeting was allowed during sentencing in the Tommy Sheridan trial last year, not one journalist has gained authorisation to live tweet a full trial, according to Theodoli (specific permission is required for journalists, unlike England & Wales).

Open Justice UK liaised with the Scottish court ahead of the selected trial but:

“Today, just a day or two before the trial is due to start, we received a short email stating that the Judge has a number of concerns that he feels should be taken up at a senior level and the timescale would not allow for it.”

Meanwhile, at a High Court (Chancery division) hearing in London last Thursday (23 February) the Guardian secured access to court documents relating to News International and Glenn Mulcaire.

In an approved judgment released on Monday (27 February), Mr Justice Vos set out the reasons he has allowed the Guardian (“and any other media organisations that request them”) to access redacted documents, including the “generic Particulars of Claim”, “the Notice to Admit” and the “Response”, mentioned at the phone hacking pre-trial review on 19 January 2012. No parties objected to the Guardian’s request to access a fourth document, the “generic list of issues”.

I’ve flagged up a few key parts below.

Mr Mulcaire’s counsel were concerned

“…that reporting of some parts of the 3 documents will create a substantial risk that the course of justice in the further criminal proceedings that Mr Mulcaire may face will be seriously impeded or prejudiced.” [3]

Vos J found:

“There is a distinct and crucial public interest in scrutinising the decision-making process in this case, and in knowing the facts on which the decisions are being made.” [80]

He said:

“it seems to me to be entirely legitimate for GNM and other media organisations to wish to see unredacted copies of the core documents on the basis of which these proceedings have been and are being conducted.” [81]

“First, so far as can be judged today, reporting of the parts of the 3 documents that Mr Mulcaire wishes to see redacted would not, with the one exception already mentioned, give rise to a ‘not insubstantial’ risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in Mr Mulcaire’s future trial (if there is one)”… [82]

He concluded that GNM should be provided with unredacted copies of the three documents, save for several stipulated redactions detailed in par 87 (reasons discussed in the judgment).

The judgment discusses the application of the CPR Part 5.4C(2) and the “Open justice availability of documents to non-parties” (CPR Part 5.4C.10).

You can read the judgment in full, below:

HT: @adamwagner1 for alerting me to the published judgment.

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This entry was posted in courts, digital open justice, leveson inquiry, media ethics, media law, newspapers, phone hacking, public interest and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Open Justice Week: Scottish court refuses permission to tweet; English High Court allows media access to phone hacking court documents

  1. LegalWeasel says:

    If you’re going to talk about Scottish and English courts in the same article, it would be helpful to preface the term “High Court” with its nationality. Both jurisdictions have a High Court, albeit differing in function.

  2. jtownend says:

    fair point – have amended to clarify. Thanks!

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