The UK “literary entertainment” magazine The Spectator has been charged by the police for “breaching reporting restrictions” over a November article published during the Stephen Lawrence murder trial, the Guardian reported.
Lawrence was killed in 1993 and in a 2011-2012 trial, “Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty,” according to CNN. The judge in their case concluded that Lawrence was killed “for no other reason than racial hatred,” a January 2012 Guardian reported explained.
News outlets had been ordered against “referring to allegations that either of the defendants were violent or racist,” according to the BBC. The BBC summarizedThe Spectator article as having claimed the two defendants “had already been presented as violent racists” and that they “would not get a fair trial.”
As we wrote at the time last November, a UK judge ordered the Lawrence trial jury not to read the article and called for the attorney general to look into the report. The Spectator’s deputy editor Mary Wakefield apologized for the magazine’s report at the time.
The Spectator could be fined “up to £5,000” for violating the order, according to the Guardian.
The Spectator reportedly apologized and said it “will not be contesting the CPS’s decision,” however Lawrence’s father, Neville Lawrence, questioned why there weren’t contempt of court charges, “a more serious offence,” against The Spectator. Neville Lawrence called the charges “little more than a slap on the wrist.”
According to the Telegraph, the UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve looked into the article for contempt charges, but “referred” it to the prosecutors.
An attorney general spokesperson told the Press Association that “given the particular reporting,” The Spectator article “was best dealt with in relation to” the court order it violated.
We wrote in December when Attorney General Grieve gave a speech about contempt of court charges against newspapers for reporting.
iMediaEthics has written to The Spectator for further comment and will update with any response.
Hat Tip: Journalism.co.uk
UPDATE: 5/14/2012 4:26 PM EST: Added information about the Spectator’s article in question