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Herald lodges application to overturn reporting restriction at the Court of Appeal

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD has applied to the Court of Appeal to overturn the press gagging order which prevented the defence evidence in the James Oulton case.

Former Haverfordwest primary school teacher James Oulton was cleared of 31 charges of sexual touching of pupils, in a case he described as ‘a witch-hunt’, on May 4.

But the Herald faced criticism that it reported on the prosecution side of the case, but was not able to report on the defence – because a gagging order was made half way through the trial.

Balanced reporting was therefore not legally possible.

The BBC made representations at the time of the press restrictions being imposed, objecting on the grounds of freedom of the press. The Herald sent a barrister to court to object in the strongest terms, but the order was made nevertheless.

More on the hearing at Swansea Crown Court here:

On Friday, May 21 The Pembrokeshire Herald sent counsel to Swansea Crown Court to ask the trial judge to overturn or amend her order, which was still in place after the trial. Her Honour Judge Catherine Richards refused.

This newspaper argues that the judge was wrong in law to make the order, as it represented an “excessive interference with the principle of open justice, and an unwarranted restriction on the newspaper’s right to free expression.”

Editor Tom Sinclair said: “We feel that it is important that all high-profile court cases are covered by the press, and that this reporting should be fair and impartial.

“This means that the newspaper wanted to report on both the prosecution and defence evidence at the James Oulton trial – but we were unable to do so as a press restriction was made halfway through the trial. This meant we could only present the prosecution evidence to our readers.”

“I believe that the order made by the Swansea Crown Court was wrong, and the court could have secured the participation of defence witnesses without a press gagging order.”

“Despite the request for the press restriction coming from Mr Oulton’s own counsel, we feel that this meant that in the eyes of the public the reporting of the case was unfair to him.”

“Although the case is over, with Mr Oulton being acquitted of all charges, it is important that courts and judges know the right way forward for future trials. There are 77 Crown Courts in England and Wales where trials of this type will crop up in the future – because of this we are asking the Royal Court of Appeal in London to decide the matter.”

Herald editor Tom Sinclair said he understands that there are many good reasons why some evidence and some details of some cases are subject to reporting restrictions. “The law makes those circumstances clear”, he said.

He added: “We do not, however, believe that the evidence given in this case met the criteria for such a sweeping restriction.

“That is why we are taking this matter to the Court of Appeal for a definitive ruling on the issues raised by the Judge’s order.

“Court reporting fulfils a vital function. Justice must be seen to be done and reporting what happens in court makes sure it’s seen by as many people as possible.

“Being able to report only one half of proceedings, the unintended effect of HHJ Richards’ ruling, meant we could not do our job of giving our readers the whole story of a difficult and emotionally charged case.
The timing of the Defence’s application meant we had already reported the Prosecution case but were stopped from doing the same for all the evidence given on Mr Oulton’s behalf.

“It’s one thing to ignore an important case, in fact that’s very easy. That’s cowardice. It raises important questions about what else those who fail to report controversy are keeping from the public because they’re afraid to report the whole story.

“When justice takes place behind closed doors, or if it is not reported by the press, it is never seen to be done.

“And that can never be right.”

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Paul Davies submits views to Health Board Consultation

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Senedd Member Paul Davies has fed his views into Hywel Dda University Health Board’s consultation, “Building a Healthier Future after Covid-19.”

In response to the Health Board’s proposals, Mr Davies has made it clear that he opposes any movements to centralise or downgrade services at Withybush hospital.

Mr Davies said, “I cannot emphasise how important this consultation is and so I’d urge everyone across Pembrokeshire to read through the Health Board’s proposals and make their views known. In my submission, I’ve made it crystal clear that the people of Pembrokeshire should not have to travel further for vital health services.

“I want to see Hywel Dda start prioritising Pembrokeshire by investing in services at Withybush hospital so that it can support people living and working across the county.

“There’s still time to feed into the consultation and have your say on the Health Board’s plans. The deadline is Monday, June 21 and you can find more information here – https://www.haveyoursay.hduhb.wales.nhs.uk/building-a-healthier-future-after-covid-19.” 

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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Community

Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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