Witness payments to be reviewed

The Lord Chancellor has set up a working party to review contempt laws regarding payments to witnesses in criminal proceedings and the publication of information before criminal trials.

Officials from the LCD, Home Office, Law Officers Department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are charged with producing a report on the issue by the summer.

The inter-governmental working group will also examine how the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights affect contempt proceedings.

Yesterday's announcement comes three years after the National Heritage Committee's report on press activity affecting court cases recommended new laws to stop payments to witnesses and to control pre-trial publicity.

The LCD says the current review will allow the Government to consider proposals for such legislation