Spectator magazine fined after Rod Liddle article during Stephen Lawrence murder trial

13:00 07 June 2012

The parents of Stephen Lawrence will receive £2,000 from The Spectator magazine after the publication of an article which risked jeopardising the trial of two men later convicted of murdering the teenager.

The magazine’s publisher was also fined £3,000 after admitting a charge relating to an article on November 17 last year in which columnist Rod Liddle described defendants Gary Dobson and David Norris as “white trash” while the trial was taking place at the Old Bailey.

It also contained prejudicial information about their previous convictions and behaviour which, although previously in the public domain, was subject to reporting restrictions during the trial.

Dobson and Norris were convicted of the 1993 murder in January and jailed for life.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court today the magazine’s publisher Spectator 1828 Ltd admitted a charge of breaching a court order made under Section 83 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Its solicitor Brian Spiro apologised unreservedly to the Lawrence family and everyone involved with the case for what he said had been a “sad sequence of events” that led to the article being published.

District Judge Howard Riddle said: “Apart from the fact that the article breached a court order the reality is that as a result of publication there was at least a brief period during a sensitive part of the trial in which the whole trial process itself was in jeopardy.

“Fortunately it is clear that the jury did not read the article and the trial was able to come to a fair conclusion. But for Mr and Mrs Lawrence and members of their family the prospect of the trial collapsing must have been terrifying.”

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