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Identification of a Suspect Before Being Charged. Edition No. 1
VDM Publishing House, June 2008, Pages: 212
This thesis addresses the long history of conflict between the media and the judiciary over pre-trial publicity. In particular it concentrates on the 'grey' area concerning the identification in the media of a suspect before the judicial process begins. The law of contempt as it stands does not prohibit the naming of suspects, although the media do risk defamation proceedings should the suspect be acquitted or if charges are not preferred for one reason or other. The absurdity in allowing the media to disseminate highly prejudicial information, such as revelations concerning prior criminal records or confessions, at the pre-charge stage but not at the time charges are laid or when any subsequent trial is held, would seem to demonstrate an anomaly in sub judice contempt law that is in urgent need of reform. Therefore this thesis argues there should be a change in the law of sub judice contempt making it an offence for a media outlet to publich the fact that a person is under investigation until that person is charged and has appeared in court.
Craig Burgess is a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland Law School in Australia. He is a solicitor of the Queensland Supreme Court and practises part time in criminal law. He holds a BA and a Master of Laws. Before being admitted as a lawyer Craig worked as a journalist in New Zealand, Australia and the UK for 30 years.