Spectator Magazine, the weekly conservative periodical, is to be prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service over its breach of a reporting restriction at the trial of the two convicted murderers of Stephen Lawrence.
Stephen’s father, Neville, is reported as saying he is disappointed that the magazine is not facing a prosecution by the Attorney General in the High Court where the potential penalties are higher.
Alison Saunders, CPS London chief crown prosecutor, said: “Having applied the full code test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors I have taken the decision that there is a realistic prospect of conviction,” she said today.
The Attorney General has determined that it is in the public interest to proceed and he has given his consent to this prosecution.”
The CPS has decided to go ahead with legal action under Section 83 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 where the maximum penalty is £5,000.
The Spectator’s Rod Liddle wrote: “Should we care about these undoubtedly violent, often criminal, certainly unpleasant white trash? That they were (and probably still are) racists is quite beyond dispute.”
The Old Bailey judge, Mr Justice Treacy, banned the jury from reading that edition of The Spectator. He had earlier imposed reporting restrictions on the media that were in force when the article was published in November 19 2011 at the beginning of the trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris. They were subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Spectator is run by the same company that owns the Daily Telegraph, which reported the magazine’s editor Fraser Nelson as indicating that it would not resist the prosecution due at Westminster Magistrates Court on June 7: “We apologised in court for this article in November, which we accept transgressed the reporting restrictions then in place. The judge accepted our apology and we will not be contesting the CPS’s decision.”