Monday, June 04, 2018
Covering the courts - how dare they?
The troll abuse meted out to court reporter Stephanie Finnegan for daring to actually do her job and break the story of English Defence League founder’s imprisonment is beyond beyond ludicrous. Finnegan received threats and her colleagues at Leeds Live faced abuse after they and The Independent successfully challenged reporting restrictions in the case against Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon). The judge had originally intended to defer reporting until after the verdict until persuaded to change his mind. His verdict appears on the face of it to have been the right one. But, for me, two disturbing aspects emerged. Firstly, the hypocrisy behind the backlash – Robinson got 13 months for, of all things, contempt for live-streaming details of a trial which was itself subject to a blanket reporting restriction. And even worse was the fact that his supporters actually felt they had a cause for such indignation. If the regional media still had the resources to fill the press benches every day, instead of having to cherry-pick the few cases they can afford, open justice would never be seen as such an audacity in the first place.