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Name revelation

By Steven | January 22, 2010

I see that Whale Oil has been publishing a series of posts under the heading “Interesting names” that contain nothing but a person’s name. I might take a wild stab in the dark and guess that those were names that had been suppressed. Is he breaking the law?

It’s an offence to publish a name (or identifying details) “in any report or account relating to the proceedings”. No doubt Mr Oil is relying on that clause. Of course, it wouldn’t be a breach of a name suppression order protecting someone accused of assault, for example, to report that he had just won a flower show, without mentioning the criminal proceedings at all. So just publishing a name in a vaccuum would seem to put Mr Oil in the clear. And after all, publishing names this way does protect any victims and doesn’t do an awful lot of harm to the defendants.

Still. I think he’s still dicing with danger. The courts have interpreted the “relating to the proceedings” clause fairly widely (though not this widely) in the past. They are unlikely to be sympathetic to him. They may feel, given the context of his campaign, that this series of posts does relate to proceedings. More likely, the charge may be one of evading or attempting to evade a suppression order, which doesn’t require a “report or account relating to the proceedings”. In any event, he’d better be pretty careful with his comments threads. If others make links between his names and particular proceedings, that could compromise his defence.

Topics: Name suppression, Suppression orders | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Name revelation”

  1. Pointer Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Ethical Martini blogged that they are names of US registered sex offenders:

    “The Whale is also publishing “interesting names” on his Gotcha blog. They are mostly convicted and registered US sex offenders who have been arrested on serious charges in the last few days. The exception is Scott Ritter – former UN weapons inspector – who was recently arraigned on charges laid after a police online sting operation.

    But for at least one of the Whale’s “interesting names” there’s more than one prominent individual at the top of the Google list. An indication of how releasing and publicising common names can also create accidental victims.”

  2. Whaleoil Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Duly noted re: Comments, will turn those off on future posts.

    Interested as to what you think about a law that has so many holes in it but if you use the holes you still get slammed by such a catch-all sub-section about evading.


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