A regional newspaper has been reported to the Attorney General after a judge abandoned a crown court trial because of a reader comment on a story.
The judge ordered a re-trial at a different venue after the comment was made on a story run by an unnamed Newsquest title during live criminal proceedings.
Confirmation of the action was made by Newsquest editorial development director Toby Granville in a message to the company’s staff which has been seen by HTFP.
However neither Newsquest nor the Attorney General’s office have thus far released any further details of the case.
In his message to staff, Toby said: “Due to a reader comment on one of our stories during live criminal proceedings, a crown court judge abandoned the trial and ordered a re-trial out of area. Our newspaper has also been reported to the Attorney General.
“In circumstances like this there could be a prosecution under the Contempt of Court Act as well as statutory power under the Courts Act 2003 that allows the courts to recover wasted costs of re-trial from a third party where the ‘serious conduct’ of that third party affects a case.
“Therefore (while I’m sure many of you deactivate them already in circumstances like this) the policy going forward must be to not allow comments on stories about live criminal proceedings. Please ensure your staff are aware.”
HTFP has approached Newsquest for further comment and for clarification of the title involved. The Attorney General’s Office told HTFP it was not in a position to confirm or deny whether an investigation is live.