A row over identifying a sex case defendant that has dragged on since September has been resolved in an Appeal Court hearing.
The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph wanted to name a former care home boss accused of a string of sex attacks against children in care, including buggery, indecent assault and child cruelty.
At an initial hearing in the local magistrates court the bench ruled his details could not be published, despite an intervention from the Telegraph reporter in court for the hearing.
When the case was committed to crown court in Grimsby, the trial judge agreed the paper could identify the defendant and explain the serious allegations against him.
But the judge’s decision was appealed against by the defending counsel. The legal challenge has finally been resolved at the Court of Appeal in London in a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes.
Senior Telegraph staff, including assistant editor Jane Manning and reporter Ian London, were in court to hear John Lodge, representing the defendant, argue that his client would be unable to have a fair hearing if he was not allowed to appeal against the initial decision. But the three sitting judges rejected the argument and said there was a right to appeal after the case had finished.
Editor Michelle Lalor said afterwards: “Our job is simply to accurately and fairly report the facts, as stated in court. We are neither judge or jury but we are there to make sure justice is seen to be done.
“We do not believe that defendants, who are innocent until proven otherwise, have a right to try and hide their identities, unless there is a very good reason.”
She said the decision to challenge the magistrates’ decision was an important one.
“If we had stood by and done nothing, how many more defendants appearing before the court would be encouraged to try to keep their names out of the media spotlight – in effect hiding behind a veil of secrecy? Where would it end?”
The defendant is due to stand trial at crown court in April.
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