Northern Ireland news

Publishers of Irish Daily Mail newspaper fined €25,000 for contempt of court in relation to Ana Kriégel trial

The hearing took place at Dublin's Central Criminal Court. Image from RTÉ

THE publishers of the Irish Daily Mail newspaper have been fined €25,000 for contempt of court in relation to an article published during the Ana Kriégel trial.

The paper's editor Sebastian Hamilton was also fined €4,500.

It came after a front-page headline and article "posed a real risk" to the trial of two boys convicted of murdering the 14-year-old schoolgirl.

The article, published on May 3 2019, was headlined "CCTV shows Ana being led to her death" between quotation marks.

Passing judgment at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today, Mr Justice Paul McDermott found that a consultation system put in place by Mr Hamilton was "inadequate".

He said there was also "no effective editorial control over the manner in which the story was conveyed to the public".

The judge said it was not a fair or accurate depiction of what happened in court as no witness said the CCTV showed Ana being led to her death.

He said the headline gave rise to a "real risk of injustice" and a "real potential to put pressure on the two accused".

14-year-old Ana Kriegel. Picture from Family/PA Wire

His judgment came after a hearing last week in which the paper’s publisher, Associated News (Ireland) Ltd, pleaded guilty to contempt, while Mr Hamilton denied the contempt charge.

The court heard the original copy filed by court reporter, Helen Bruce was accurate, but was rewritten by a member of editorial staff to include material not given in evidence.

Mr Hamilton had given instructions that court copy was to be rewritten by the reporter herself but these instructions were ignored, in what the judge said was a "very serious lapse of professional standards."

He said the deputy news editor responsible for rewriting the copy went to some lengths to make sure the editor's direction was not followed.

The court heard Ms Bruce was not consulted on the rewritten article, effectively excluding her from any role in the article's production after she had filed her story.

The judge said this misreporting was a serious matter.

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