A High Court judge has ruled that no action should be taken against the Aberdeen Press and Journal after it was alleged to be in contempt of court.
The newspaper faced the charge after it published an article in August last year about the court case of Aberdeen drug dealer Roy Rimmer, which allegedly breached reporting restrictions.
He was later sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and ecstasy and attempting to supply amphetamine and ecstasy.
The alleged contempt of court arose after Rimmer initially pleaded guilty to the charges, but before he was due to be sentenced he changed his plea to not guilty.
A restriction was later imposed, preventing the change of plea being reported, but the P&J was unaware of the restriction and continued to report the guilty plea.
A ruling on the contempt case had been delayed pending the outcome of another, unrelated case with similar implications, but at the High Court in Glasgow the judge, Lord Dawson, said he did not intend to rule on the P&J case.
In September last year, before Rimmer’s conviction, his defence team argued that the case against him should be dropped, as the P&J’s article could be prejudicial.
Lord Dawson agreed that the report could, in theory, influence jurors, but was unlikely to have much effect on witnesses, as most would be police or expert witnesses.
He also considered it unlikely that future jurors might be prejudiced by the report, as the newspaper’s circulation in the Central Belt made it “almost inconceivable” that anyone in Edinburgh or Glasgow would have seen the article.
He said that no date had been arranged for a decision to be made on the parallel case and he had been advised that the P&J’s case should be concluded at its current stage as the interests of justice would not be served by the case continuing any longer.
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