23 January 2012 - 7:35am | posted by | 0 comments

Associated Newspapers bid to stop anonymous evidence to Leveson Inquiry is rejected by high court

Associated Newspapers bid to stop anonymous evidence to Leveson Inquiry is rejected by high courtAssociated Newspapers bid to stop anonymous evidence to Leveson

Daily Mail publisher, Associated Newspapers, has lost its high court case to overturn the Leveson inquiry's decision to hear anonymous evidence from journalists.

The Guardian reports that the high court ruled on Friday that it would not grant a judicial review to Associated Newspapers in a bid to stop the Leveson inquiry accepting anonymous submissions. The application was supported by Telegraph Media Group.

Associated Newspapers wanted the high court to overturn a ruling made by Lord Justice Leveson in November - claiming that it was unlawful and that all tabloid newspapers risked being "reputationally damaged" by "untested" claims from journalists.

The Guardian explained that the Leveson inquiry was set to hear more evidence from rank-and-file journalists this week, including a number of anonymous submissions through the National Union of Journalists, but that has been postponed due to the high court challenge. About 20 journalists have submitted anonymous evidence to the inquiry.

In a written judgment to the high court, Lord Justice Toulson said: "Judicial review is a means of correcting unlawfulness. It is not for the court to micromanage the conduct of the inquiry by the chairman, least of all in relation to hypothetical situations the likelihood of which appears to the chairman to be remote.

"I would refuse the application for judicial review. For the future, how the chairman deals with individual anonymity requests in the context of his general ruling and protocol will be matters of detailed consideration for him, which should not foreseeable, give rise to further requests for judicial interference."

The high court ruled that Lord Justice Leveson had not acted unlawfully by allowing anonymous submissions, which would leave "a gap in the inquiry's work" if they were disallowed.

Lord Justice 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 something worse.

"Fear for a person's future livelihood can be a powerful gag. Nor am I persuaded that the chairman acted unfairly and therefore erred in law in deciding that on balance he should admit such evidence, subject to his considering it of sufficient relevance and being satisfied that the journalist would not give it otherwise than anonymously."

Evidence submitted anonymously by journalists will not name any person or company, Leveson said in his ruling last year.

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