Court rejects SFO's press ban request

THE HIGH Court has dismissed an order requested by the Serious Fraud Office to suspend reporting on Mirror Group pension fund litigation.

Patrick Stewart, partner of Swepstone Walsh, says the SFO applied for an order to postpone reporting on civil litigation until after the criminal proceedings involving Kevin and Ian Maxwell are over.

Stewart says the SFO, supported by the Maxwell brothers, contends that similar issues are involved in both the criminal and the civil proceedings.

Stewart represents The Guardian, The Times, and Financial Times, which want to report on the cases.

The SFO and the Maxwells applied for the order under the Contempt of Court Act. Stewart says: “The judge determined there was no need to make such an order restricting publicity on the grounds that as there is no serious risk to the case the court will not exercise its discretion to postpone reporting.”

An SFO spokesman says if any report proves prejudicial to the civil case it can make an application within 12 hours to prevent any further publications.