Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice

Credit: AberCJ

Publishers of the Daily Mail and the Sun have been fined £15,000 each for contempt of court after photographs of a defendant in a murder trial, holding a firearm, were published online.

The publishers of both newspapers were found guilty of contempt in March, after being taken to court by the attorney general, in a case believed to be the first of its kind given the online form of publication.

Yesterday the Attorney General's Office announced that in making the costs judgment the judges said "both newspapers have now taken steps to avoid repetition and apologised".

"They accepted that the publications were the result of a genuine mistake," the announcement says, adding the publishers were also required to pay the attorney general's costs of £28,117.

According to a report on the fines by the Daily Mail itself on Mail Online, it claims staff at the title must now have all articles regarding crime and the courts, including photos and captions, checked by a lawyer before publication.

It was argued by the newspapers at the time that the risk of prejudice was "insubstantial", partly because the judge at the murder trial had specifically told the jury not to look on the internet for information.

It was also argued that publication of the images was done so "by mistake" and for a "limited" time.

In the March ruling, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Owen found that not only was there a substantial risk that a juror might read the news report but that the image was prejudicial.

"Visual images are designed for impact; that is why any editor would be keen to use them to add to the impact of the news story," Lord Justice Moses added.

"It was prejudicial in a manner directly relevant to the issues in the case."

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