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Evening Post among trio to apologise for breaking Newlove trial reporting restriction

Three newspapers which published material in breach of a court order in reports of the Garry Newlove murder case after the jury returned its verdicts have apologised to the trial judge.

Mr Justice Andrew Smith, sitting at Chester Crown Court, said he had considered referring one case to the Attorney General for possible prosecution, but had now decided against doing so.

Media Lawyer reports that the newspapers – The Sun, the Daily Mirror and the Wigan Evening Post – all briefed counsel to appear before the judge.

Reporting of the trial of the youths accused of murdering Mr Newlove was restricted by an order under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, which banned the identification of defendants and witnesses under the age of 18, and publication of certain other material.

When the jury convicted 19-year-old Adam Swellings and juveniles Stephen Sorton and Jordan Cunliffe of the murder, Mr Justice Andrew Smith amended the order so that Sorton and Cunliffe could be identified, although he kept in place a provision banning publication of details of Cunliffe’s disability.

He had also specified that only one picture of Mr Newlove’s teenaged daughters, Danielle and Amy, could be used in media reports of the trial.

The judge had called all three newspapers to attend court yesterday to explain what had happened.

The Sun had given details of Cunliffe’s disability, the Wigan Evening Post had published an address for Cunliffe which was covered by the reporting restriction order, and the Daily Mirror had used a photograph of one of Mr Newlove’s juvenile daughters which was not the one specified by the judge.

Barrister Azeem Suterwalla, representing the Wigan Evening Post, told the court: “We accept that material was published which should not have been published and we profoundly apologise.”

Two letters from the newspaper’s editor were shown to the judge.

Mr Justice Smith said: “These were unfortunate lapses and in a sense a particular eye-opener because the Press Association journalist was particularly helpful about what restrictions I should give about Jordan Cunliffe when I asked for what the media needed.

“I hope the lessons have been learned because it is important for the court to know that when we strike a balance in this way we can trust the media to observe it.”

Afterwards, the part of the Section 39 order relating to Danielle and Amy Newlove was varied at the request of Helen Newlove and News Group Newspapers to set aside the ban on using any other photographs of the girls.