PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others: QBD 22 Oct 2013

The claimant had been arrested on allegations of serious child sex abuse. The court now considered an application for a continuation or cancellation of an interim non-disclosure order.
Held: The application for a non-disclosure order was dismissed, but the case was to remain anonymised pending any appeal. The court considered the balance between the diverging interests with an assessment of PNM’s interest in restricting the reporting of the trial. TSome of the public would inevitably equate suspicion with guilt and there was a risk that PNM and his family, including his children, would be subject to some unpleasant behaviour, possibly amounting to harassment. Not being a defendant in the trial, he would have no means of clearing his name if the media confined themselves to fair, accurate and contemporaneous reporting attracting absolute privilege. However, the significance of these was diminished by two factors. Members of the public generally will understand the difference between suspicion and guilt, and because of its public nature, some knowledge of what had been said about him at the trial would spread among those who knew him personally or by name, so that restrictions on press reporting would be of little if any benefit to him or his family. Indeed, the prohibition of media reporting might lead to the circulation of ill-informed or misleading versions of what was said that would aggravate PNM’s situation. By comparison, there was the highest public interest in the allegations of child abuse, which were the subject of continuing police investigations. The reports would be likely to make an important contribution to the knowledge of the public and to informed debate about the administration of justice. Publication might also encourage witnesses to come forward, or lend significance to the fact if they did not come forward.

Tugendhat J
[2013] EWHC 3177 (QB)
Contempt of Court Act 1981 4(2)
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromPNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others CA 1-Aug-2014
The claimant sought a privacy order after being accused of historical serious sexual offences against children.
Held: The judge had properly acted within the range of his discretion, and the appeal was dismissed. The judgment would however . .
At first instancePNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others SC 19-Jul-2017
No anonymity for investigation suspect
The claimant had been investigated on an allegation of historic sexual abuse. He had never been charged, but the investigation had continued with others being convicted in a high profile case. He appealed from refusal of orders restricting . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Litigation Practice

Updated: 22 November 2021; Ref: scu.517013