Leary v Britiah Broadcasting Corporatin: CA 29 Sep 1989

Lord Donaldson MR considered an application for an injunction to prevent a publication which it was said would create a contempt of court, and said: ‘I am very concerned that no one should think that on a speculative basis you can go to the courts and call upon the publisher of printed material or television or radio material to come forward and tell the court exactly what it is proposed to do, and invite the court to act as a censor. That is not the function of the court. It is different, of course, if there is solid evidence as to what the content of the publication will be and that evidence leads the court to conclude that prima facie there will be a contempt of court. Then it would no doubt be right that the defendant should be invited, but not compelled, to tell the court what in fact he intends to publish, because of course if he does not and there is a prima facie case that there will be contempt he will find himself faced with an injunction. But that is not the same thing as setting the courts up as a censorship body to which people must submit material on pain of being prohibited from publishing it.’
Ralph Gibson LJ said: ‘The primary defence of the administration of justice from unlawful interference by [publications] is the heavy sanction of prosecution if a contempt of court is committed.’


Lord Donaldson MR, Ralph Gibson LJ


Unreported, 29 September 1989


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedMcKennitt and others v Ash and Another QBD 21-Dec-2005
The claimant sought to restrain publication by the defendant of a book recounting very personal events in her life. She claimed privacy and a right of confidence. The defendant argued that there was a public interest in the disclosures.
Held: . .
CitedAttorney General v Random House Group Ltd QBD 15-Jul-2009
The Attorney-General sought to restrain the publication of a book which she said would prejudice the defendants in a forthcoming criminal trial. The publisher said that a restraint would be a disproportionate interference in its Article 10 rights. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Contempt of Court

Updated: 29 May 2022; Ref: scu.238822