Associated Newspapers Ltd v United Kingdom: ECHR 30 Nov 1994

The newspaper said that a finding against it of contempt of court for publishing material derived from a jury’s deliberations infringed its rights of free speech.
Held: The complaint was declared inadmissible. ‘The Commission agrees with the applicants that the fines imposed in the present case amounted to an interference with the applicants’ freedom of expression, and also agrees that the interference was ‘prescribed by law’. In connection with the question whether the interference pursued a legitimate aim, the Commission finds, as indeed the applicants accept, that the aim was to maintain the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. It would add that the term ‘judiciary’ comprises the entire machinery of justice, including the proper functioning of the jury system (cf., Euro. Court H.R., Sunday Times judgment of 26 April 1979, Series A no. 30, p. 34, para. 55). It is an important element of that system that jurors should express themselves freely in the jury room without fear of outside disclosure of their views and opinions. To this extent the law may also serve to protect the rights of individual jurors themselves.
. . In connection with the legislation as such [the 1981 Act], the Commission notes that the jury system in the United Kingdom is founded on the premise that jurors will express themselves freely in the jury room in the knowledge that what they say will not be used outside. If a juror thought that what he said could subsequently be made public, it is possible that he would bear in mind the future use to which his words might be put, and not just the case in hand. The unlimited prohibition on disclosure is then seen to be an inevitable protection for jurors and can therefore be regarded as ‘necessary’ in a democratic society which has decided to retain this particular form of jury trial.’,br />The Commission added that it was not called on to assess the compatibility of section 8 with article 10 in circumstances involving a conviction for research into jury methods as such, and stated: ‘The present case relates rather to revelations of the jury’s deliberations in one specific case of considerable public interest, including statements by the jurors concerned about the opinions and attitudes of other members of the jury. The applicants were well aware that the information they published was sensitive, and should have been aware that its disclosure could put other individual jurors in an invidious position.
The Commission finds, in the circumstances of the present case, that the interference with the applicants’ freedom of expression did not take the State beyond the margin of appreciation which it enjoyed.’


Mm A Weizel P


24770/94, [1994] ECHR 58


HUDOC, Bailii


Appeal fromHM Attorney-General v Associated Newspapers Ltd and Others HL 4-Feb-1994
Following the acquittal of a prominent politician on a charge of conspiracy to murder, the New Statesman magazine published an article, based on an interview with one of the jurors, which gave an account of significant parts of the jury’s . .
At First InstanceHM Attorney General v Associated Newspapers Ltd and Others QBD 9-Dec-1992
A newspaper was held to have been in contempt of court for publishing details of the deliberations of a jury, even though it had not solicited the information. Beldam LJ said of the word ‘disclosure’: ‘It is a word wide enough to encompass the . .

Cited by:

CitedHM Attorney General v Seckerson and Times Newspapers Ltd Admn 13-May-2009
The first defendant had been foreman of a jury in a criminal trial. He was accused of disclosing details of the jury’s votes and their considerations with concerns about the expert witnesses to the second defendant. The parties disputed the extent . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Contempt of Court, Media

Updated: 25 July 2022; Ref: scu.343072