“The rules which should have prevented online publication are governed by an outdated piece of legislation enacted at a time when Parliament could not have comprehended what a website might be, never mind know how one might work in the context of the criminal law,” writes the Independent’s law editor, Robert Verkaik.
Verkaik is referring to the transgression of reporting restrictions, which banned the identification of Baby P’s mother and stepdad, by bloggers, online forum users and Facebook groups. The restrictions were officially lifted this week.
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“There then appears to be a double standard at work, where the law is incapable of punishing flagrant breaches of court orders by internet transgressors while imposing draconian sentences on the mainstream media for committing much less serious breaches. The internet was born into a lawless cyberspace and has little respect for the fusty orders of the High Court.”