The NUJ has condemned a judge’s decision to ban the media from reporting the opening statements and all witness statements in the case of Solider F.
At a preliminary hearing today, as well as confirming that the anonymity put in place last year would continue, District Judge Ted Magill placed a ban on the reporting of statements by the prosecution and defence, and the testimony of witnesses due to give evidence at the hearing.
The judge added: “I realise that means a rather thin news day for the media, but it is not a question of choice, it is a question of law”.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “This is an alarming ruling, which goes against the principle of open justice and the need for the criminal justice system to operate in public and be subject to public scrutiny. Journalists cannot fulfil their duty in representing and reflecting the public interest if they are banned from carrying out their work. The media’s role in witnessing and reporting on judicial proceedings is vital, and this judgement must be overturned.”
Soldier F is the only ex-British army paratrooper facing murder charges arising from the killings, by members of the Parachute Regiment’s First Battalion, of 13 civilians in Derry/Londonderry on Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972.