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Court reporter given panic alarm after rape and death threats

Stephanie_FinneganA journalist threatened with rape and death after covering the ‘Tommy Robinson’ contempt of court case has revealed she was issued with a panic alarm by her employer as a result of the threats.

Leeds Live court reporter Stephanie Finnegan, left, says police patrols were also increased in her area after supporters of the far-right leader attempted to find out where she lived.

HTFP reported in June how the regional press industry had rallied behind Stephanie following the threats, which came after she challenged an order made at Leeds Crown Court barring any mention of court proceedings involving Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

Speaking at the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference, Stephanie discussed how she had dealt with the aftermath of the story being published, which included receiving messages such as “I hope you get raped” and “I hope you get killed.”

Stephanie, who is originally from Northern Ireland, told delegates at Harlow College: “I hadn’t even lived in England for two years at the time and I wasn’t really that fully aware of who [Robinson] really was or who the English Defence League were.

“I was worried they were so keen on getting my address. They started talking about my family, and they own a house so their address could have got out. Someone tweeted the specific area of Belfast where my mum lives.”

Stephanie said it was at that point that Leeds Live publisher Reach plc got the police involved.

She added: “There were extra patrols in my area and the company issued me with a panic alarm.”

The Attorney General is currently considering whether to pursue a Contempt of Court case against Mr Yaxley-Lennon, after he was accused of breaking a blanket reporting restriction on a series of linked grooming gang trials in Leeds with a Facebook Live video in May.

He was initially imprisoned for the alleged offence, but the Court of Appeal later overturned the ruling, and Mr Yaxley-Lennon is currently free on bail, on the condition that he must attend the next hearing where he is required and not approach Leeds Crown Court.

2 comments

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  • December 1, 2018 at 11:43 am
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    whoever issued the threats is beneath contempt, so to speak. It is sad we live in an age where 21st century cavemen threaten sexual assault against women.

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  • December 3, 2018 at 10:18 am
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    Threats should never be leveled at someone who is just doing their job. Unfortunately reporting on criminal action will often provoke extreme reaction in line with the lack of boundaries that these same people have. If you report on Salvation Army activity you will probably get a letter of thanks. That’s exactly why police, reporters, politicians, nurses, should never be threatened with violence…they are just doing their jobs and the rest of us should respect that.

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