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Media accused over coverage of IRA arrest

ITN and four newspapers ran a substantial risk of seriously prejudicing the course of justice by referring to the previous conviction of Paul Magee, an IRA terrorist, the High Court heard yesterday.

Alan Moses QC, for Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney-General, said there was more than a 'remote risk' that mention of the conviction, for the murder of an SAS captain, was likely to stick in the mind of potential jurors.

He is asking Lord Justice Leggatt and Mr Justice Buxton to impose fines on ITN and Associated Newspapers, News (UK) Ltd, Express Newspapers and Westminster Press Ltd - the publishers respectively of the Daily Mail, Today, the Daily Express and the Northern Echo. He said their coverage on 12 and 13 June 1992 of Magee's arrest for the murder of Glenn Goodman, a special constable, five days before, constituted contempt.

Nine months later, Magee, 46, was jailed at the Old Bailey for a minimum of 30 years. His co-accused, Michael O'Brien, 33, was cleared of murdering Mr Goodman, but convicted of the attempted murder of two other officers and jailed for 18 years.

Judgment was reserved until today.