About Cleland Thom

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So far Cleland Thom has created 10 blog entries.

A law that confuses experienced journalists

Journalists sometimes phone me and say: “I’m covering a crown court trial, and they’ve just mentioned the bloke’s previous convictions! How can that be right?” I always commend them for checking. Anyone studying law will be able to tell you that mentioning a defendant’s previous convictions, when proceedings are active under the Contempt of Court Act [...]

October 7th, 2016|Journalism, Law|0 Comments

YouTube video raised important legal issues

A colleague spotted a YouTube video showing an eight-year-old boy giving evidence to the police about alleged paedophile activity. It was the actual video taken at the police station in London. The video was displayed here but has since been removed. My colleague rightly asked: “How it can legally be online? I've read that the story he's [...]

September 30th, 2016|Law|0 Comments

Why those pre-trial TV images are usually safe from contempt

Someone asked me the other day: “When the BBC or Sky show footage of people who have been charged, on their way to court, could that be contempt of court?” It's unlikely, as shots like these only reveal their identities, and this won't prejudice a jury, as they jurors will know who they are anyway. [...]

September 23rd, 2016|Journalism, Law|1 Comment

Did government website breach sexual offences law?

My recent posts on reporting sexual offences inevitably provoked a lot of questions. This wasn’t surprising, as it’s a complex area. One student asked me about this story in the Croydon Advertiser about a teacher who was banned from teaching for life after kissing a pupil. The story carefully avoided naming the school where a teacher work. [...]

September 7th, 2016|Law|0 Comments

How media law students can attend court cases

Many journalism course students cover courts as part of their media law syllabus, and they sometimes find access a problem because of over-zealous court staff. In fact, both the press and the public attend most courts as part of the UK's long-established open justice principle. So students count as ‘the public’, and have the legal right attend [...]

September 5th, 2016|Law|0 Comments

How ‘report and remove’ works with Facebook

People on media law courses will know about the ‘report-and-remove’ process that protects websites from defamation actions resulting from user generated content. Online law for journalists covers the issue in detail. The EU’s E-Commerce Directive says that publishers like news websites and Facebook are not liable for defamatory content, provided they remove it as soon as [...]

August 25th, 2016|Law|0 Comments

More advice reporting sexual offences safely

This continues my series on how journalists can apply sexual offences laws and regulatory requirements safely and responsibly. Not all journalists realise that there are ethical guidelines on reporting the addresses of convicted sex offenders. Publishing precise details of an offender’s address could breach Ipso’s privacy clause. Ipso’s predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission, issued guidelines [...]

August 16th, 2016|Journalism, Law|0 Comments

Tips on applying sex offences laws

This continues my series for NCTJ diploma course students, about the intricacies of applying sexual offences anonymity laws and regulatory codes. Someone on an NCTJ course asked me: ‘If some faces charges involving both sexual offences, and non-sexual offences, what happens to the victim’s ID if the sexual offences charges are dropped?’ In these circumstances, the victim gets lifelong [...]

August 15th, 2016|Journalism, Law|0 Comments

More on the debate about reporting sexual offences ethically

This is my second post on the ethics of reporting sexual offences, in question and answer form. If a victim has waived their anonymity, what ethical advice would you give to a journalist or news organisation on whether or not to publish the victims name? If a victim chooses to waive their anonymity in writing, they [...]

August 12th, 2016|Journalism, Law|0 Comments

Does the media report sexual offences ethically?

I am often asked for my comments on various aspects of media law, and the legislation concerning sexual offences is always a hot topic. There is frequent debate about whether, for example, people accused of sexual offences should get the name protection as their alleged victims. These are my views, in question and answer form. [...]

August 11th, 2016|Journalism, Law|0 Comments