Law Division

News is a "report" or "account" of an event. It is a disclosure made into a meaningful "story", but there is more to it than that. News values are neither natural nor neutral. News values are man-made. Newspapers are full of actions, situations and attributes of "elite persons". "One of the dangers we are faced with at the moment is that of fantasy, not only in media main population but in politics and political parties…… It is imperative that men and women come to terms with the fact that the central truth about reality is that there is always more to it than you think.

A major challenge of our time is that the technical and entertainment demands of our main media encourage us to think less and less while inviting us simply to react and adopt sloganised convictions": (David Jenkins, Bishop of Durham – The Guardian, 25th April 1991) The printing act in 1695 was a watershed in newspaper history which removed several onerous legal restrictions. Newspapers were highly prized by a population hungry for news. There is no limit to what might be reported. Court reports are an easy way to fill a local paper.

The constitutional role of the press in the Courts is an important one, the same as that of the public. The press not only reports the punishment but in doing so adds to it. The people seeing the case reported is probably much worse for the accused than a cash fine. There are times when the papers are not interested in justice but more with social control such as reporting of shoplifting offences just before Christmas. Serious news is mainly one-way traffic, than telling us what they want us to know.

Politicians, Companies and even a Bishop can get their message over to the people simply by issuing a statement, interview or press conference and the press being "objective" truly reproduces the message, even if it is a pact of lies. What matters is that we pay attention to the right people. There are times when papers have to edit the wording to make it seem more sensible. The stories are internally justified and this is the reason for publishing, for instance, when an MP sent his son to a public school, this seems boring but maybe the reporter forgot to mention that the man had frequently advocated abolishing public schools.

In the past the states main weapons against the press were likely to cause a breach of the peace easy to prove because no actual breach of the peace is necessary and also blasphemy which was mainly connected with religion and also protected politicians on occasion. In a recent "HOT" story in the newspapers, in the "butler case" we can clearly see that all the Burrell affairs that have spawned are a service of accusations aired in Newspapers rather than made formally to the police, with nothing proven.

This would have not even made it into print if the target had been a celebrity or politician but because the Royal family will never sue for Libel and cannot answer for themselves the press were allowed to run riot. Newspaper headline: "Paul Burrell was arrested and charged with the theft of 310 items belonging to the Royal family". For the past 12 months the story of the "Royal butler" has dominated the headlines. Paul Burrell became butler for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales in 1987.

He was employed by the Royal family and asked to sign an undertaking as to confidentiality and also the Official Secrets Act declaration. The Queen had been informed of the raid on Mr. Burrell's home back in January 2001 but only 10 days into the trial. Just before Mr. Burrell was due to take the stand the Queen suddenly remembered in a meeting with him that he mentioned him saying he was going to keep some of Princess Diana's belongings for safe keeping. The Palace is right to complain that it is not alone in needing to ask and answer important questions about the way that is has behaved both during and after the Burrell Case.

There are clearly questions for the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and not least the Press to answer. Looking at the relationship between Politicians, elite people and the press, the Paul Burrell case was fired into society to either show that almost for the first time the Palace has conceded that it stands in the same position of accountability to the public and the Law as other institutions does. This means that instead of the Palace playing according to there own rules as it has in the past, it is now playing by the same rules as the rest.

Who wants such a thing to happen? Senior establishment figures have demanded a review of the Queens historic privileges to stand above the Law. "The Queens role as being the person under whose name prosecutions are launched and her immunity from being cited as a witness ought to be reconsidered" Prosecutions launched as Regina versus the defendant could be renamed the "State" or the "people" versus the defendant. I thought the newspaper had published a Criminal case "Theft from Royal family", but now this seems like a political revolution to change history.

R – V – MOHAMMAD change to PEOPLE – V – MOHAMMAD Or was this a dispute and a punch-up between the Royal family and the Spencers? The Law governs any interference with the administration of Justice, from disobeying a Court Order to attempting to influence a Jury. As for the Newspapers concerned it includes publishing anything that might prejudice a fair trial. One of the recent issues was the Leeds United footballer case. The Jury in the case was discharged and a retrial ordered on the basis that the present Jury may have been prejudicially influenced by the media and press publicity.

The Newspapers interview with the claimant's father was the reason for the re-trial. The story was interesting and money making for the newspapers. Perhaps the media was left to believe otherwise. The European Court has said "that the press has not only a right but an obligation to important information and ideas on matters of public interest and the public has a right to receive such material". Therefore the press enjoys a high level of protection under the ECHR.

The newspaper/press is a strong weapon within any Country especially with the Human Rights Act, they have been protected even more, yet, there are limitations as well. The press can swing either way, either in favor of the public or in favor of the state and Politicians. Therefore what is reported in the newspapers, apart from the usual gossip, should be looked at carefully especially if the news concerns the public safety and interest. Freedom of expression/speech is an area which may bring conflict between the rights of the citizen and a private organization such as a newspaper.

The press organization holds a large employment and their first intention is to make a profit. "Money is the root of all evil" Yet there is the press Complaints Commission that can look at any breach by editors. While the protection of privacy is routinely disregarded the cause is not hard to find, invasion of privacy sells newspaper. It satisfies our desire to share vicariously the lives of famous people; it feeds our intense curiosity about what is happening behind closed doors; it allows us to severely criticize when bad behaviour is revealed.

This is one of the reasons that people buy newspapers, nevertheless the protection of privacy requires better policing than the one that press Complains Commission can provide. The privacy should be added to the Law which newspapers editors must take into account, along with libel, contempt of Court and so on. Laura Flanders who is a journalist and broadcaster view is that: "When it comes to libel, the UK is about the most plaintiff friendly country in the world.

British citizens enjoy no guaranteed freedom to write, to speak, let alone to publish. It's a free speech free zone". The news will report a legal issue based on what they think is suitable firstly for the news organization and secondly the general public. We all rely on picking up a newspaper or watching TV's news to see what is happening around us and not thinking that may be this is what "they" want us to see and believe is happening; the question remains a personal preference. "do you really care? "