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Wall Street Journal wins legal battle to report phone-hacking trial without UK reporting restrictions

Judgement: The court ruled in favour of the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal will not have to abide by UK court reporting restrictions in its international coverage of the phone-hacking trial after winning a legal battle.

The title, whose parent company Dow Jones was bought by News Corporation in 2007, requested access to Crown Prosecution service documents relating to the case at the beginning of the trial but refused to sign an agreement that it would abide by court reporting restrictions in its overseas editions.

The issue was debated in court and a judgement was made to remove the requirement to sign the agreement as long as overseas edition of the paper are submitted to the CPS.

Welcoming the judgement, a Dow Jones spokesperson told The Drum: “As a foreign-based media company, we were denied access to relevant trial materials available to other media unless we agreed to English court-imposed restrictions on anything we published anywhere in the world.

“While we agree to abide by reporting restrictions for content available in England, we challenged this discriminatory approach in order to preserve our right to publish freely in other parts of the world. We are pleased with the judge’s decision, and look forward to getting the same access to trial information as any other media outlet.”

Lifting the requirement, Mr Justice Saunders said: “At the moment, I can see no good reason why they should not have the documents in the same way as the national press does," adding that the signing of the agreement should not be a "pre-condition of that supply”.

The dispute involved court documents which are routinely given to UK-based media outlets to ensure accuracy in reporting. These include witness statements, transcripts of police interviews and other key items of evidence. The Wall Street Journal had agreed to abide by all reporting restrictions when publishing in the UK and on any internet outlet controlled by them, but argued that the proposed agreement would be an "unnecessary restriction on the freedom of the press".

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