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Newspapers win five-year battle for open justice

The Oxford Mail and The Times have won a five-year legal battle to lift court imposed anonymity. Background to the Appeal, was summarised by the Supreme Court.

Commenting on the victory in the Supreme Court, The Times' Leader said: “A fundamental principle of open justice is that a criminal trial is a public event. Evidence is heard in open court to protect victims and suspects alike from the secrecy that arbitrary justice tends to prefer. If the rule of law is to apply equally to all it must be seen to do so. As the public cannot squeeze into every courtroom, the press must be its eyes and ears.”

Gavin Millar QC, for the Times and the Oxford Mail, told the Court that granting anonymity “would chill court reporting dramatically.” 

The Times' Leader concluded: “This has been a fight to strengthen open justice, not undermine it. Too many public bodies resort instinctively to secrecy to spare their own blushes. It is a relief, and it is vital, that the courts are not among them. They perform, as Lord Sumption said, a public act of the state. Closing the door on open justice puts society on a slippery slope towards no justice at all.” 

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