Letter: Court reporting

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: I was Gerry Gable's solicitor during his trial at Southwark Crown Court, which ended with his acquittal on 23 July. I was concerned at the patchy, and consequently misleading, reporting of this case in your newspaper.

Mr Gable is editor of Searchlight, the highly respected anti-Fascist magazine. He was accused of being involved in a violent disorder at a meeting that was organised and addressed by Fascists and ex-Mosleyites. The prosecution case against Mr Gable rested solely on statements made by the self-proclaimed Fascists and neo-Nazis.

In the prosecution's opening speech, these allegations were outlined against Mr Gable and his co-defendant. Your reporter dutifully recorded the contents of the prosecutor's speech and a headlined report covering several column inches duly appeared in your newspaper ('Anti-fascist 'led hijack of meeting' ', 21 July).

However, as soon as the court turned to the meat of the case, that is the real evidence upon which the prosecution based its allegations, the Independent reporters disappeared. During the following days, the witnesses for the prosecution were systematically demolished and the prosecution's case crumbled before its eyes. Your readers were told nothing of this.

When the prosecution had had enough, it conceded that there was no case against Mr Gable and the judge directed that he be found not guilty. He was honourably discharged and awarded costs out of public funds. The only mention of this result came in your newspaper in a brief statement that Mr Gable had been 'formally acquitted'. Not a word was said about the complete collapse of the case and the reasons behind the acquittal.

Such patchy reporting is clearly unsatisfactory but sending a reporter along only to the first day of a trial is becoming more and more common. As in this case, this practice leads to distortion and should be abandoned.

Yours sincerely,

NEIL O'MAY

Bindman & Partners

(Solicitors)

London, NW1

24 July

Comments