Daily Star found guilty of contempt

Newspaper fined £60,000

The Divisional Court (Rose LJ and Pitchford J) has found Express Newspapers guilty of contempt of court over the Daily Star‘s coverage of a case involving two Premiership footballers and fined the newspaper group £60,000.

In September 2003 a young woman accused four men, including some Premiership footballers, of raping her in a hotel room in London.  Despite warnings from the Metropolitan Police and ‘guidance’ issued by the Attorney General that the accused should not be identified, the Daily Star broke the news that two of the men who had been bailed were Titus Bramble of Newcastle United FC and Carlton Cole of Chelsea FC.  The Attorney General alleged that in doing so, the Daily Star‘s publishers, Express Newspapers, had created a substantial risk that the course of justice would be seriously impeded or prejudiced and so were in contempt of court.  The Court so found.  It fined the newspaper’s publishers £60,000 and ordered it to pay the Attorney General’s costs.

The reason behind the police’s warnings and the Attorney General’s guidance was said to be that the publication of the names or likenesses of any person arrested was liable to prejudice the proceedings at a stage when identification was a live issue.  The media were later given the all clear to name the suspects after the Attorney General indicated that the police had completed the process of collating identification evidence. Mr Bramble and Mr Cole denied the rape allegations and neither they nor anyone else was charged over the incident after the CPS decided there was insufficient evidence.