The Spectator magazine was ordered by court to pay Lawrence family for the ‘agony it caused by nearly wrecking the Old Bailey trial of his killers.’

The Spectator was fined more than £5,000 in costs and damages for breaking reporting restrictions. Both Mr and Mrs Lawrence made it clear to the court neither wanted any money but the magazine was ordered to pay on the discretion of the District Judge Howard Riddle.

Judge Riddle referring to the complexity and sensitivity of this long awaited trial stated that it “ hung in the balance” for a short period after the publication of the article written by journalist Rod Liddle. The latter wrote the media had already judged the killers as “ bang to rights” and detailed their criminal pasts.

Judge Riddle stated ‘ All parties took very clear, strong and sensible efforts to make sure the trial process was not prejudiced and an Order was made under the Criminal Justice Act Despite the very clear terms of the order … the Spectator published the article. It placed the trial briefly in jeopardy.

The additional burden that Mr and Mrs Lawrence were forced to endure is unimaginable and their tenacity for basic justice must be loudly commended. As ‘gongs’ and knighthoods are being thrown around for crime victims what title is befitting the Lawrence family’s years and years of ordeal, and triumph?

When will this family be allowed to grieve? It is another example as to why it is time for the media to be formally bound to robust privacy law as in France; because the UK media is unable and disinclined to regulate itself. On too many crucial and deeply personal occasions it has recklessly disrupted personal lives of crime victims and potentially interfered with the process of justice. This is never in the public interest and must come to an end.

(Source’ The London Evening Standard, 7 June 2012)

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