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Does doxing apply to a newspaper that publishes a defendant’s full name and full address (minus the postcode) following a first hearing in the Magistrates Court?

Can a defendant who is yet to stand trial, and therefore yet to face the possibility of being convicted, have their details thus published in the local newspaper? Are there laws to prevent this and/or challenge it should it be published?

For context, the defendant has severe mental health conditions and is now afraid of being harassed.

  • This would be legal in the U.S., but I don't know what the law would be in the U.K. – ohwilleke Aug 21 at 22:43
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The common law defence of Reportage specifically allows newspapers to do this exact thing: Where they reveal the name/identity of a person facing allegations even before that person has been charged or found guilty of those allegations

In the UK, the Defamation Act 2013 maintains this defence by combining into the defence of a Publication on a Matter of Public Interest. Usually this defence is successfully invoked by newspaper organisations, since most things which are newsworthy are "of public interest", this includes celebrity exposes.

To overcome such a defence it require: showing that the newspapers were in total error on publishing the person's identity (i.e, that it was actually someone else facing the charges, not the named individual), OR that the information isn't in the public interest. A national newspaper writing the names of people implicated in a minor theft incident? Probably not public interest, but a local newspaper doing the same? Probably public interest.

  • Thank you. I see. The charge is one which would fall into the domain of public interest, and is currently a “hot topic”. I had just never been aware of newspapers publishing house number as well as the rest of the address. – Lou SavedBy Grace Aug 23 at 5:48
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The court 'lists' of cases will contain at minimum each defendant’s name, age, address, his profession when known and the alleged offence.

In the interests of the principle of 'open justice' and accurate reporting (e.g. distinguishing individuals with similar names) the newspaper is free to publish the defendant's name, address and alleged offences unless there are exceptional circumstances laid down by statute or common law (for a quick reference guide read from page 17 of https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/reporting-restrictions-guide-may-2016-2.pdf).

I do not recall ever seeing a specific house or apartment number in media reports of criminal cases - only name, street, town, allegation, if that makes any difference.

I hope the defendant has a solicitor who can answer the question for the defendant's specific circumstances.

  • Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, the house number was specified along with the rest of the address. Due to the charge being reported and as it is currently a “hot topic” considering all that has been in the news recently, the defendant is right to be concerned about potential harassment, in my opinion. The solicitor did explain that the newspaper are allowed to publish the full address (without the postcode) when the defendant queried it after I had posted this question. – Lou SavedBy Grace Aug 23 at 5:45

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