Northern Ireland law on suspect anonymity struck down

The High Court has struck down ss.12-16 Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022, which granted automatic anonymity to people who are suspected of sexual offences, pre-charge. The Court emphasised the significant importance of public interest journalism and found the law to be incompatible with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The law did not strike a fair balance in public interest journalism cases and failed to provide sufficient procedural protection for journalists’ rights.

The judgment followed a high-profile judicial review challenge brought by five media organisations, Times Media Limited, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Guardian News and Media Limited, News Group Newspapers Limited, and Associated Newspapers Limited.  

Jude Bunting KC acted for the five media organisations, leading Lara Smyth, instructed by Ciaran O’Shiel of A&L Goodbody.

For further detail see the BBC and The Times