As with many local newspapers, court reporting is a cornerstone of the Evening Telegraph’s daily output.
Our reporters are fully trained in Scots law, and we adhere to the regulations laid out by the independent press regulator IPSO.
Our newsdesk is regularly contacted by people who have appeared in court or their families and friends requesting that we take down stories that involve them or people they know. On most occasions, we will refuse to do so.
To make matters clear, the Tele has compiled this guide on why we report court stories and why we report them in the ways that we do.
I’ve appeared in court in the past and want my name removed from Google
Like all other news websites, the Evening Telegraph is regularly “crawled” by search engines such as Google and our stories frequently appear in the results for searches related to the local area, or to certain names.
The Data Protection Act 2018 gives newspapers special exemptions that mean we are under no obligation to remove court reports from our archives, including where they concern spent convictions.
However, you do have the right to contact Google directly and request that it stops linking to our articles from a search on your name.
You can do so here: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/legal-removal-request?complaint_type=rtbf
For more information on this, visit the Information Commissioner Officer’s website.
You don’t have my permission to publish my/my relative’s name
People can be upset to find out a court case involving them or someone they know has appeared in the paper or on our website.
However, the simple fact is that we don’t need your permission to write a story about it – and we will defend our right to do so.
The Tele endeavours to cover the local courts as much as possible in order to support the principle of open justice: that people who commit crimes are prosecuted fairly in a public forum.
By sitting in on and reporting on publicly heard cases on a daily basis – something most people, with full-time jobs and other commitments, cannot afford to do – we are helping to maintain that principle, and demonstrating to those whose taxes fund the police and the courts that justice is being done in their area.
Courts carry out the majority of their hearings in public – save for when an order is made to close the court – and we are entitled to report on everything said within the courtroom under a principle known as “qualified privilege”, so long as what we write is an accurate report of what took place within the court.
One of the principles of open justice is that it acts as a deterrent – that if you read about people being convicted of a crime in the press, you might be less tempted to commit a crime yourself.
In short: if you don’t want to run the risk of ending up in court and then featuring in the paper, don’t carry out the crime in the first place.
I’ve appeared in court. Why have you printed my address?
When reporting on court cases, we always include an accused’s name, the street on which they live and their age. This is to avoid confusing one individual with another of the same name and causing that individual unnecessary stress.
Were we not to print ages and addresses, we would open the Tele up to defamation proceedings from those who are not accused of crimes but share names with those who are and could be caused unnecessary distress and embarrassment as a result.
I haven’t done what you said I’ve done
We report on court cases at all stages of proceedings – some which are just beginning, others which are part-heard, and cases which have concluded.
In the case of cases beginning – such as when an individual appears on petition, or for a first diet – we report on the charges being brought against an accused by the Procurator Fiscal.
We are legally entitled to do so, so long as the report is fair, accurate and contemporaneous, under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 – and we always ensure that those who are accused of crimes at an early stage in legal proceedings are described as such, for example: “Joe Bloggs, 40, of Dundee Drive, is accused of assault…he allegedly carried out the offence.”
We only describe people as having committed a particular offence after they have either pleaded guilty or by being found guilty by a judge or a jury.
My name/business has appeared in a story. Why have you mentioned it?
When a crime is discussed in open court all relevant details are discussed: these include the date and the location of the offence, as well as the names of victims as well as the accused. There are occasions where places or names are protected from identification (see below) – but by and large we will report these details as a matter of public record, and to ensure court reports are accurate.
Often we will use a photograph of a location where an offence has been committed, or alleged to have been committed, to illustrate a court story if it is relevant to the contents of the article. This will sometimes include photographs of a place of business.
We appreciate this may make some people unhappy – but our photographs are all shot in a public place and the privacy of individuals is assured, in line with the Editors’ Code of Practice.
Why can’t some people be identified, even if they are accused of a crime?
News reporters are bound by certain laws which prevent people from being identified depending on their age or their circumstances.
Save for exceptional circumstances, under-18s cannot be named in criminal proceedings. This includes people accused of crimes and their victims. Details which could lead to their identification such as their address or their school are also prohibited from being published.
Victims of sexual offences of any age are granted lifetime anonymity, which is only lifted if they choose to waive this right.
I didn’t see a reporter in court. Where did you get my case from?
It all comes back to open justice. Our reporters can’t be in all places at once.
We will sometimes ask court clerks for details of cases that we were not present to hear, which they are permitted to give us, and we are entitled to report on them so long as the details are reported fairly and accurately.
You have my address or other details wrong
There are times we are told we have details wrong, such as an address. These details are obtained from papers provided to us by court clerks, who in turn receive the information from the Crown Office. Issues with incorrect data should be flagged up with the Crown Office. However, we are always willing to consider requests for corrections. You can contact us on email@example.com
You’ve deleted my comment on an article about a court case
Sometimes we will report on criminal cases that are part-heard – such as in a long-running jury trial. In this case, there are certain steps we have to take to protect ourselves — and you — from facing prosecution under contempt of court laws.
When a criminal case is “active” – the period from when an individual is arrested to when a court case ends – we are required to moderate comments to avoid what the law calls “a substantial risk of prejudice”. In essence, this means we will take down any comments which could have a negative impact on the trial if, for example, they were read by a member of a jury.
What our regulator says
The independent press regulator IPSO has produced its own guide to newspapers and court reporting. You can download it at www.ipso.co.uk/media/1511/court-reporting-public.pdf.
I’m still not happy and I believe you’ve done something wrong
The Evening Telegraph is committed to journalism of the highest standards and we aim to produce our newspaper with accuracy, honesty and fairness.
Our journalists adhere to the DC Thomson company values of integrity and respect — and we abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice which is enforced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
In the first instance, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, write to The Readers Editor, Evening Telegraph, 2 Albert Square, Dundee, DD1 1DD, or call us on 01382 575888.
Information about the Code of Practice can be obtained from the Independent Press Standards Organisation, Gate House, 1 Farringdon Street, London, EC4M 7LG, by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0300 123 2220.