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Trials (Press Reports)

Volume 264: debated on Thursday 19 October 1995

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To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on his policy and guidance framework for members of the judiciary facing similar circumstances in future, in respect of the suspension of the trial Regina v. Mr. Geoffrey Knights by Harrow Crown court as a result of advance press reports. [37693]

When a broadcast, press report or other publication which might prejudice a fair trial is brought to my attention I consider whether to bring proceedings for contempt of court against those responsible before the divisional court.I apply the statutory test under the Contempt of Court Act 1981—namely, whether such a broadcast or publication has given rise to a substantial risk of serious prejudice to the administration of justice in the relevant case and have regard to the public interest. In so doing, I am exercising my function as guardian of the public interest in the enforcement of the criminal law.I do not, however, give guidance to the judiciary. This is a matter not for me but for the higher judiciary.