The Sunday Herald Facing Prosecution? One Lawyer Thinks it's a Possibility

The Sunday Herald could face prosecution for defying a court order – albeit applicable in England rather than in Scotland – preventing the media from identifying a footballer alleged to have had an affair. 

Yesterday the Sunday Herald published a thinly-disgused front page photograph of the player, printing with his eyes blacked out and the word 'censored' over the top, and it named him in an inside story.

Says a story by David Maddox, The Scotsman reports that leading media lawyer, Campbell Deane, has warned that, despite England and Scotland having separate legal systems, the paper's editor, journalists and directors could face prosecution for contempt of court and possibly goes to prison.

Writes Maddox: “The development is the latest twist in a spiraling battle over privacy and freedom of speech that – until now – has mainly played out online.

“The Attorney-General's office last night said it would investigate the publication if it received a request to do so.

“As with all referrals, the Attorney will consider the matter carefully, and take action if necessary.

“Although the Attorney does not have a general enforcement role in regard to civil injunctions, he may bring proceedings in circumstances where public interest warrants it. Normally the aggrieved party would be expected to bring proceedings to protect their interests.”

Deane is quoted saying: “If the paper was absolutely sure of its position, why didn't it publish the names of all the other super-injunctions, none of which have been served in Scotland?

“I suspect that if the roles were reversed and a Scottish judge's ruling was ignored this way in England the Scottish judge would be seething.”

The Scotsman also reports that, last night, Schillings – the legal firm understood to be representing the player – saying it was considering what action to take.