The Scottish Daily Record‘s reporting on two men who were charged with crimes was in contempt of court and now the paper must pay £80,000 (or about $107,000 U.S.), the Press Gazette reported.
While the two stories in question weren’t specifically identified, they were published in February and May 2017 about people identified as Man A and Man B. The court ruling from the Appeal Court, High Court of Judiciary, is posted on the Scottish Court record’s website.
The article on Man A reported he was accused of drug-related crimes and shootings and called him a “gang boss,” “cocaine kingpin” and a “cocaine baron,” according to Press Gazette.
“In the first case the newspaper had taken legal advice from a solicitor who was ‘heavily sedated’ and ‘incapable of rational thought let alone advising clients on legal matters’, while in the second case the editor acted against legal advice to the effect that there was a risk of contempt,” Scottish Legal News reported. The ruling states that the lawyer in one case “was heavily sedated at the time the advice was given and the effects of the medication alone would have ‘rendered incapable of rational thought let alone advising clients on legal matters.'”
iMediaEthics wrote to the Daily Record to ask what went wrong with the reporting.
Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian explained, “The article contained details of the allegations against him that may form part of the evidence at any future trial, and referred to the recovery of a ‘fearsome arsenal’ and ‘horrific array’ of weapons and money. In addition, it revealed detailed information about his criminal history, including previous convictions and prison sentences. It referred to other live proceedings against him, suggesting that he had gone into hiding in connection therewith and describing him as ‘one of Scotland’s most wanted men.”
The article on Man B included a photo of the man handcuffed with the caption “GOT HIM” and reported he was “accused of attempting to abduct two young girls in the woods.”
The Daily Record admitted last year, according to the Press Gazette, of committing contempt of court with its articles on the two ongoing cases because the articles could affect the trial.