Bad day in court for the Daily Ireland. The Irish News carried a story yesterday on the paper’s contempt of court when it published a story containing “prejudicial material” relating to a particular defendant in a trial due to take place that same day in Belfast. The judge levied a fine of £1000 each on two directors and DI’s editor.
Mr Justice Weatherup said that on the morning two men were due to stand trial before a jury Daily Ireland published “prejudicial material”. The article was later repeated in the Andersonstown News. The judge said this led to a defence application to halt proceedings on the basis that the defendants could not get a fair trial.
In the event the trial judge held there was a potential to prejudice a jury but decided against a ‘stay’ and instead switched the trial to another area on a later date. The court heard that the defendants had apologised and indicated steps had been taken to ensure there was no repetition.
“It is clear the journalist who prepared the article was not as well versed in matters relating to contempt of court as he should have been and the checking system also failed,” the judge said. It is believed to be one of the first times in Northern Ireland that the editor of a daily newspaper has been fined for contempt.
The group has a bid launched with courts demanding £3 million compensation because the UK government has refused to advertise with them.