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Newspaper overturns naming ban in exploitation case

The Leicester Mercury has won a battle to overturn a court order banning the identification of five defendants allegedly involved in the exploitation of a 16-year-old girl.

The five men, four of whom are from Leicester, face a total of 22 charges including arranging the prostitution of a child and people trafficking.

Magistrates in the city imposed an order had been made under Section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 despite objections by reporters from the Leicester Mercury and the BBC.

But the Mercury’s solicitors Foot Anstey later wrote to the court, arguing that the imposition of a Section 11 order could only be justified in rare and exceptional circumstances, and only when the administration of justice would be frustrated.

At a subsequent hearing, District Judge John Temperley ruled that the matter of the Section 11 order should be dealt with in camera at a hearing on 8 February.

Mercury editor Richard Bettsworth attended the hearing and made a submission on behalf of the newspaper. It was also attended by reporter David Owen who made the objection to the Section 11 order at the initial hearing

The details of the in camera hearing cannot be revealed but Judge Temperley agreed to remove the direction made under Section 11, allowing the Mercury to publish the names and addresses of the defendants.

Said Richard: “The judge dealt with the matter in a very thorough and fair way, identifying the key issues which are necessary to satisfy the conditions for a Section 11 order and testing these against the circumstances. I am very pleased that he overturned the order.”