Publishing Identity of Accused Person

Query:

 

I have been informed it is against EU Law to publish the identity of any person accused of any crime PRIOR to that person being judged (& found guilty) Is this so? I know that in Spanish newspapers they usually only mention the person's initial (e.g. P.A.G.). Could you let me know if it is against Gib Law since it can constitute defamation against a subsequently innocent person?

 

Answer:

 

It all depends on who is actually publishing what and where they got the information from. However, there is a lot of information about accused persons in the public domain e.g. the Gibraltar Chronicle publishing that John Smith, of 999 Main Street was in court facing charges of burglary. To my knowledge this is a perfectly legal thing to publish even though the person is not convicted but is simply accused and appearing in court.

 

Furthermore, it is possible to find out who will be appearing in court and for what reasons simply by contacting the courts so therefore this is not confidential information. I would be surprised to find that such a publication would constitute defamation. It would be entirely different however if someone were to publish that John Smith is a thief without being so.

 

That may be caused for defamation proceedings and possibly a data protection breach depending on where the information was obtained (e.g. if an employer has disciplined an employee for stealing something and then decided to publish the details).

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