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Sky News may face prosectution for breaching an injunction designed to prevent information about the Welfare of the Chandler's being published

Credit: David Jones/PA

The attorney general is to apply to the high court today for permission to prosecute Sky News for contempt of court over its coverage of the release of kidnapped British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler.

Sky News is alleged to have breached an injunction prohibiting the media from disclosing any information concerning the welfare of the Chandlers before they reached a place of safety outside of Somalia.

The couple, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, were sailing their yacht between the Seychelles and Tanzania in October 2010 when their boat was raided by kidnappers.

They were released on 14 November last year, the day Sky News is alleged to have breached the injunction.

BBC editor Jon Williams later blogged about the injunction, explaining the broadcaster's decision to 
strictly follow the injunction and not report the developments in the couple's release while other news organisations did.

Dominic Grieve has launched several contempt cases against media outlets during his 18 months as attorney general, including a successful prosecution of the Sun and the Daily Mirror in July over their coverage of the arrest of Chris Jefferies. Jefferies was questioned in connection with the murder of Bristol architect Joanna Yeates but later shown to be innocent.

Last month he launched a case against the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail over coverage of the trial of Levi Bellfield, the man convicted of murdering schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2006.

Bellfield was also facing prosecution for the abduction and murder of schoolgirl Rachel Cowles, but the trial judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, discharged the jury from returning a verdict for fear that the media coverage had been prejudicial.

Last week an article in the Spectator magazine was referred to Grieve by the judge presiding over the Stephen Lawrence murder trial. The referral concerns an article by columnist Rod Liddle.

BSkyB, which owns Sky News, declined to comment.

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