Secret justice decisions over Jon Venables case condemned by Chartered Institute of Journalists
Release date: 8 January 2018
The Chartered Institute of Journalists says the decision to hold a future trial of Jon Venables in secret risks becoming a denial of justice and is unconstitutional in a democratic society.
The world’s longest standing professional association of journalists is complaining that the move lacks credibility and accountability.
Chair of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, Professor Tim Crook says: ‘Media publications have been quoting the Crown Prosecution Service, yet the statement does not exist on the CPS website. Reference has been made to reporting restrictions, but there is no public record, or source for the restrictions, or any understanding of what they are.’
He added: ‘The idea of such a serious trial on an extremely relevant public interest case taking place in secret at an unnamed court building is deeply disturbing.’
The Institute says there is no traceable public body source for the claim that the trial is to be held in private at an unnamed court.
The public needs to know that journalists as the watchdogs of democracy have access, can report fairly and accurately, and the rule of the law is being sustained.’
The Institute fears the Venables case is another example of the continuing decline of Open Justice in the UK.
The Institute argues that reporting restrictions of criminal proceedings can only be valid if the court and judge issuing them, and the extent and terms of the orders are publicly available and accessible.
Media reports on Friday 5th January quoted the CPS statement:
‘The man formerly known as Jon Venables has been charged with offences relating to indecent images of children and will appear in the Crown Court. In order that justice can be done, no further details are being released at this stage and the proceedings are subject to reporting restrictions.’
A search of the CPS website https://www.cps.gov.uk/news and its Twitter feed @cpsuk cannot confirm any trace or record of the statement.
Any search of the case on the Ministry of Justice website cannot confirm any trace or record of the reporting restrictions, or the claim that the Crown Court proceedings will take place in a secret location with the press and public excluded.
Notes to editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.