Sun fined £3,000 for Oldham gas explosion reporting breach - Press - Media - The Independent

Sun fined £3,000 for Oldham gas explosion reporting breach

 

A national newspaper has been fined more than £3,000 for breaching reporting restrictions when it published a story about a man accused of causing a huge explosion which killed a two-year-old boy.

A district judge questioned whether the maximum fine available to him was high enough after The Sun admitted breaching restrictions following Andrew Partington's appearance at Oldham Magistrates' Court last year accused of manslaughter and other offences.

Partington, 28, was later jailed for 10 years for causing the explosion in Oldham in June last year which obliterated his house and neighbouring properties and killed toddler Jamie Heaton.

Today, Manchester Magistrates' Court heard that the newspaper published a report of Partington's first appearance before magistrates which included many details of the evidence against him.

The court heard that these included the content of text messages Partington sent which "formed the crux of the prosecution case".

These details had been outlined in court as the defendant applied to be released on bail but strict reporting restrictions prevent all but basic details of cases being published at this stage of a prosecution in order to stop potential jurors becoming prejudiced.

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said The Sun's report on September 11 last year "clearly went beyond what was permitted".

He told the court: "I recognise that the press provide and perform a valuable function in our society.

"The facts surrounding the explosion in Oldham were both newsworthy and subject of intense public interest."

But he added: "It's in circumstances such as these that it's absolutely necessary for the press to behave responsibility and comply with the law."

The district judge said a failure to do this could result in guilty people walking free or "the innocent having their reputations trashed".

Turning to the report in The Sun, he said: "This was at best shoddy journalism and at worst it's an example of sensational reporting in a bid to generate short-term headlines and, no doubt, financial gain."

Mr Taaffe imposed a fine of £3,350 and ordered the paper to pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £120.

He said the maximum fine was £5,000 - usually for a defendant who was found guilty after a trial.

He said: "Many will feel this (the potential maximum fine) doesn't reflect the serious nature of the behaviour of The Sun."

Earlier, Jonathan Caplan QC, defending News Group Newspapers, said the newspaper fully admitted its error and had apologised to the court at the time through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

He said an online version was withdrawn when the CPS pointed out the error.

The barrister also pointed out that Partington had indicated at the magistrates' court that he was going to plead guilty to the offences and had made a number of admissions to the police.

But Mr Caplan accepted that this was no guarantee there would not be a trial before a jury and was "not in any way a justification".

The company pleaded guilty to one count of "reporting matters in contravention of a reporting restriction" contrary to Section 52A of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

It had been charged with two counts - one in relation to the newspaper and another in relation to its website - but the one relating to online publication was withdrawn today.

The court heard that The Sun has never breached this Act before, nor is there any record of it breaching the more commonly prosecuted Magistrates' Court Act 1980.

Mr Caplan said training had been arranged for in-house lawyers in the wake of the mistake.

"I repeat the apology," he said.

"My client takes this seriously. It was an error and they have pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity."

He added: "This article should not have been published."

Mr Caplan asked for 28 days to pay the fine but Mr Taaffe ordered it to be paid within a week.

PA

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week