Northern Ireland

Attorney General issues warning over publication of information following charging of Jeffrey Donaldson

Warning follows earlier ones issued by police over identification of alleged victims and speculation about investigation

Attorney General Brenda King
Attorney General Brenda King Attorney General Brenda King

Attorney General Brenda King has issued a warning to the public and media outlets over the publishing of material following the charging of former DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson with a number of offences.

Ms King’s office on Tuesday issued a statement advising people to be aware of the “potential consequences before publishing, posting or sharing commentary, online or otherwise”.

While not referring to the Donaldson case directly, her office said:

“The attorney would remind the public and the media of the risk of any person publishing, posting or sharing material being found to be in contempt of court,” the office stated, adding everyone should consider the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson quit on Friday
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson quit as DUP leader on Friday (Liam McBurney/PA)

The office added: “The PSNI has already highlighted the separate statutory requirements to protect the anonymity of any person against whom certain sexual offences, including rape, are alleged to have been committed.”

The PSNI issued warnings over the weekend, including in connection with the publication of any information that could identify the alleged victims.

The man was taken to hospital with serious head injuries, police said
PSNI issued warnings over publishing information that might identify alleged victims and over speculation around the investigation (Niall Carson/PA)

In a further statement on Sunday, the PSNI said it “immediately commenced an investigation into this matter” after a complaint was received in March

“We are again reminding members of the public and media outlets that speculation is unhelpful and in this case inaccurate and may ultimately have a negative impact on a criminal justice process,” the force said.