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Great DomPost acquittal for a deplorable reason

  • October 11th, 2008

The acquittal of Tim Pankhurst and the DomPost seems to have been for a deplorable reason. The judges decided that the publication of the suppressed evidence was not contempt because it would be unlikely to affect the eventual trial.

 "Though the articles would have had substantial impact at the time on a lot of people, and had clear potential to prejudice the minds of would-be jurors, the more difficult question was how much would linger at the time of any trial, which the judges thought would be at least two years later."

What a hopeless system, when top judges casually expect that criminal charges would take 2 years to get to trial.

From the DomPost report the law of contempt remains as unsatisfactory as before this prosecution. Randerson and Gendall JJ seem to encourage rather than discourage the use of suppression orders.

I posted on this case on 30 September, worrying that the outcome would be bad whichever way it went. It seems to me worse than I feared. The law is more obscure, suppression is encouraged, and in addition the judges treat as normal the quagmire that allows cases to take years when they should be over in a few months.

The decision is yet to be posted on the site for judicial decisions. I hope that the actual judgments are not as depressing as they sound.

 On the other hand – great news for the news guys, and congratulation to their defence team.


  • Peterwn
  • October 11th, 2008
  • 6:55 pm

The judgment is here:

While all Supreme Court judgments are posted here, posting of Appeal and High Court judgments here is very patchy.

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