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Weekly newspaper fined for publishing defendant’s photo during trial

A weekly newspaper has been fined after being found guilty of contempt of court for publishing a defendant’s picture during his trial.

The Shetland Times has been fined £1,250 after publishing the photo of Martyn Fisher in its 24 July edition.

In Scotland, publishing a picture of an accused person before or during a trial is likely to be treated as contempt of court if identification is an issue.

Fisher was later found guilty of four charges on 4 August and Times editor Adam Civico appeared at an initial hearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court, pictured below, the following day.


Handing down the fine on Wednesday, Sheriff Philip Mann concluded that the issue of identification in the trial by witnesses was pertinent enough to warrant the penalty.

However, he also expressed regret at having to issue the Times with the fine.

He told the court: “This is not a finding I have any great joy in making because the newspaper in question does serve the court and the public well.”

And Adam also expressed his regret that the newspaper had been found in contempt of court.

He told HTFP: “I am of course disappointed at the finding.

“I was, however, grateful to hear the sheriff’s opinion when he said the newspaper serves the court and the public well in terms of its reporting, and that there was no intention to impede the course of justice or cause distress or embarrassment to the accused, through publication of a photograph.

“The only issue the court had was with publication of the photograph, not the content of the report itself.

“The Shetland Times is committed to providing comprehensive coverage of events that matter to our readers. That extends to coverage of the sheriff court in Lerwick.”


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  • September 8, 2015 at 9:28 am

    How can they not have realised this was an unwise thing to do?

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  • September 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Why did they publish this picture? Was it deliberate? I note the editor’s only regret appears to have been that the Shetland Times was found to be in contempt of court.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 11:10 am

    A mistake no sub-editor worth his salt would ever make. Surprised at the editor’s reaction too. “Disappointed” at the finding? What did he expect?

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  • September 8, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Bizarre! Any editor worth his/her salt should understand the full legal position in all court reporting…obviously things are different in Shetland.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    It always annoys me when on a specialist industry site we don’t get to hear HOW and WHY something happened within our trade.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    How experienced is the editor? such a bog standard mistake that most trainees would avoid. We are not talking interpretation here. Just basic law!

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  • September 9, 2015 at 5:25 am

    I personally think that the authority;s fine was correct. Even in Sri Lanka the photographs of the accused cannot be published when a trial is on the records of the Court

    The Criminal Justice Act of 1925 of the United Kingdom has set out the embargo and the penalty is said to be fifty pounds. I do not know whether this has been amended. now Thus, it is clearly stated in the book by L.C.J.McNae

    We have to respect the suspect, until he is proved guilty – he may be a ; crook ‘ yet in the eyes of he law, he is innocent

    In Sri Lanka , we practise this procedure by Journalists and publishers.

    So that is that..

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