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Success as trainee challenges bid for reporting ban on murder accused

A trainee reporter successfully challenged a defence request for a Section 11 order under the Contempt of Court Act at the first hearing of a high profile case at West London Magistrates’ Court.

On Thursday Ellie Dyer, of the Kensington & Chelsea News, was covering a pre-trial appearance of two men charged with the murder of former boxer James Oyebola, who died from gunshot wounds after a dispute over smoking in a nightclub in July.

Prior to the start of the case, Ellie overheard defence lawyers discussing with the clerk of the court a possible Section 39 order, covering children, and then a Section 11 order, which would ban identification of the defendants’ addresses.

The clerk asked if any press were present and then informed Ellie that if this did occur she had a right to challenge their argument on behalf of the media.

When the accused appeared, their defence team did request a Section 11 order on the grounds that the defendants’ families might be at risk.

Ellie immediately challenged this, pointing out that Section 11 is intended to protect blackmail victims, people involved in national security issues and state secrets.

The magistrates adjourned and returned to court after 20 minutes.

Two defence lawyers then made further representations and Ellie was also invited to expand her submission that Section 11 did not apply in the circumstances of the case.

This time the adjournment was much shorter and the magistrates ruled in Ellie’s favour.

The chairman of the bench said: “In the interest of open justice we to have to have very, very clear representations in front of us to be satisfied that it’s in the public interest to withhold that information.”