Associated Newspapers loses Leveson journalist anonymity bid

An application by Associated Newspapers to prevent journalists giving anonymous evidence to the Leveson Inquiry has been refused at the High Court today.

Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice Sharp today rejected the application for judicial review, noting in their ruling that it was “not for the court to micromanage the conduct of the Inquiry by the Chairman.”

The ruling read: “It is of the greatest importance that the Inquiry should be, and be seen by the public to be, as thorough and balanced as is practically possible,” Were journalists to be prohibited from submitting evidence anonymously, it went on to say, there would be a “gap” in the Inquiry’s work.

Toulson continued: “I am not persuaded that there is in principle something wrong in allowing a witness to give evidence anonymously through fear of career blight, rather than fear of fear of something worse.”

He added that it was “important to recognise that the evidence in question will be part of a much wider tapestry” and that Associated and others were open to submit non-anonymous evidence.

Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday, challenged Lord Justice Leveson’s November ruling on anonymous evidence last week, arguing that “untested” testimony from journalists could tar its titles “with a broad brush”.

Mark Warby QC, counsel for Associated Newspapers, told the court last week that anonymous evidence may damage the “rights and interests” of all tabloids, and that titles were “likely to be defamed” if allegations of impropriety were made by journalists.

The Inquiry will resume on Monday, with evidence from BBC, ITN and Sky.

Read the full ruling here [pdf]

Follow Index on Censorship’s coverage of the Leveson Inquiry on Twitter – @IndexLeveson

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