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Child porn offender named after appeal by NUJ member

12 June 2014

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed the decision of a district court judge in the Republic of Ireland to lift reporting restrictions following an appeal by an NUJ member against his initial secrecy order.

At Dungloe district court last month, Judge Paul Kelly was asked by Donegal News reporter Cronan Scanlon, a member of Derry and North West Ireland branch, to reconsider his decision to ban publication of the defendant’s name.

This week Judge Kelly ruled that Neil McBride could be named. At the earlier hearing, unemployed Neil McBride admitted possession of child porn images on his laptop in August 2011. Judge Kelly said he was permitting the name to be published following representations at an earlier hearing by Cronan Scanlon who argued there was no legal basis for an original ordering banning identification.

At the earlier hearing, the man's solicitor asked the judge to again impose reporting restrictions as she was concerned that, if named, her client could be "linked" to another matter.

However, Cronan Scanlon asked Judge Kelly to reconsider his decision as he believed there was no legal basis for the order and that the case was of great public interest. He said:

"The man has pleaded guilty, admitted knowing that accessing child porn is illegal and this matter is of great public interest and the people have a right to know who is accessing child pornography. We (the press) could name him without making any reference whatsoever to the other matter."

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, welcomed the decision and congratulated Cronan on challenging the order. He said:

"This incident highlights the value of having journalists present in court, prepared to report in the public interest and to ensure that justice is administered in an open and transparent fashion."

Donegal News story: Judge rules child porn offender can be identified

Tags: , law, courts, public interest, court reporting, newspapers, donegal, donegal news, derry north west ireland branch