The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, spoke about the “balancing act” of Contempt at City University London on Thursday night. Predictably, his comments on uncertainties around reporting Parliament made the headlines.
…for the journalists amongst your number, a note of caution – it is still an open question as to whether something said in Parliament in breach of a court order may be repeated in the press. The privilege to report Parliamentary proceedings, which is provided by the Parliamentary Papers Act and protects Hansard, does not necessarily extend to all publications which are not published by order of Parliament. It is likely that it does extend to a fair and accurate report of proceedings in Parliament. But just because something has been said does not mean it can be repeated out of context. This question has yet to be authoritatively decided but will shortly be considered further by Parliament. But in the interim – writer beware!
He also covered why we have Contempt law; the right to press freedom and the right to a fair trial; recent Contempt prosecutions; and the “inexorable rise of the internet and the citizen journalist”.