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Reporter wins right to report trial verdict

A weekly newspaper narrowly avoided a court case catastrophe after a defence barrister tried to impose reporting restrictions at the end of a three-and-a-half month trial.

Reporter Jack Royston, from the Harrow Times, turned out copy week after week from the Old Bailey in London in the case of the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Hassan Kul Hawadleh in Wealdstone, near Harrow, last February.

But Jack, who had been able to report everything from the trial freely, had to battle to report its verdict as lawyers tried to postpone publication under Section 4 of the Contempt of Court Act.

The jury returned a mix of verdicts, with three defendants acquitted on the most serious charge of murder, but it could not make up its minds on alternative counts of manslaughter and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The prospect of a retrial sparked the application by defence lawyers but Jack argued on behalf of the press that extensive coverage of the lengthy trial meant future jurors would be able to look back over the evidence anyway.

He said the jury would be left guessing the outcome of the initial trial if the press was not entitled to report freely and pointed out it will be months until the retrial.

Judge Gerald Gordon sided with the press and threw the application out.