Fair Trials

Fair trials are important to me, if the person is innocent it's important they go free, and if guilty it's important that they're punished. So far, so non-brainer. A persistent annoyance in this country (as exemplified by the recent Ipswich Murders case where two men were arrested, the second to be arrested is in court today, the first is on bail), over the past few days, all sorts of material has been dug up about these two. From a picture of one of them apparently strangling their wife (both with smiles on their faces) to 'news' that the other was a transvestite. This information may or may not be true, it may or not be pertinent to the case - but what it should not be is in the public domain right now.

In the event that one (or both) of the men is innocent, then they'll have had their private lives dragged through the mud and will have to live with that inevitable stigma. In the event that one (or both) of the men is guilty, then this information being published could have the effect of prejudicing a trial - these are already very public cases. This could give rise to the man getting off on a technicality (e.g. the impossibility of a fair trial)... or it could lead to a wrongful conviction (leaving the real murderer 'out there').

So, we have two suspected, but not guilty, men with details made public. At the same time, a 15 year old girl is found guilty of stabbing their classmate in the eye with some scissors, and the media is not allowed to report her details 'for legal reasons'.

I'm not in favour of shielding the guilty - but, putting aside information released to aide the manhunt, I wouldn't want to do anything which would either reduce the confidence in any eventual trial or make the lives of those wrongly suspected more difficult.