Bailiwick Express has applied for reporting restrictions to be lifted in a case being heard by Jersey’s Magistrate’s Court.
Unless that happens, reporting of the case locally is severely restricted by the Children’s Law which prohibits the publication of any material, which is even likely to identify a child who is linked to the case.
This week, Express’s advocate, Olaf Blakeley, asked the Relief Magistrate Peter Harris to use the powers given to him under the Children’s Law and remove the barrier to identification, on the basis that he argued there was little risk of harm to the children linked with the case, and their identity was already widely known.
Mr Harris declined to do so, but did allow Advocate Blakeley to submit a further written application to the court for the ban on identification to be lifted.
Pictured: Express’s advocate, Olaf Blakeley.
In that written application, Advocate Blakeley argued that the case was being heard in ‘open court’ and the local media should be able to report the following:
(a) the identity of the defendants;
(b) the particular charges to which the defendants are being tried; and
(c) the facts of the case as heard by the court during trial.
He added: “Importantly, it is submitted, the interests of justice will most certainly not be served by protecting the defendants by keeping secret their identities…It is in the interests of justice the public should be made aware of the identities of the defendants, the charges against them, the facts giving rise to those charges and the outcome of the trial. It is not in the interests of justice the Law be used as a backdoor protection to the defendants.
“It is in the interests of justice the public is made aware how serious the courts view the alleged offending and, in the event of any conviction, how the court deals with defendants found guilty…”
The trial continues, and Express will make public the Court’s decision on whether to allow identification of the children linked to the case.
Express Editor, James Filleul, commented: “This is an important case, which we firmly believe islanders should know about; the current application of the Children’s Law prevents the local media from fully reporting it. We hope that the Court will consider our application, and allow the facts of this case to be reported locally, so that islanders can understand cases being prosecuted in their name, and from the public purse."
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