Guide stays chances of media circus at West trial

THE LORD Chancellor's Department has made legal history with the publication of a user-friendly Media Court Guide clearly designed to ensure the Rosemary West trial does not degenerate into a media circus.

The guide, issued to more than 100 journalists worldwide who have descended on Winchester for the trial, warns journalists they face “a substantial term of imprisonment and a fine” if they break the reporting restrictions.

But the stick of sanctions is combined with the carrot of useful information for journalists, such as details of the indictment, a courtroom plan, biographical details of the judge and leading counsels, and parking information.

Although the department is hoping to avoid the controversial media coverage which dogged the OJ Simpson trial from spreading across the Atlantic, it will not make a direct link between the booklet and the US trial.

“We have been working on this for more than a year,” said a spokesman who will spend much of his time down in Winchester helping to ensure that the trial runs smoothly.