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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 16:26 GMT
Daily Star is guilty of contempt
Carlton Cole and Titus Bramble denied wrongdoing
Mr Cole (left) and Mr Bramble denied any wrongdoing
The Daily Star newspaper has been found guilty of contempt of court and fined 60,000 over its coverage of a case involving Premiership footballers.

The two players were among four people questioned about allegations of rape by a 17-year-old girl.

Despite a legal ban on naming them, the paper reported that Titus Bramble and Carlton Cole had been bailed.

The girl accused the men of raping her in September 2003. No-one was charged over the allegations.

On Thursday at the High Court in London Lord Justice Rose and Mr Justice Pitchman found the newspaper's publishers Express Newspapers guilty of contempt.

They found that an article on 23 October 2003 had created "a real, substantial, more than remote risk" that the course of justice would be "seriously impeded or prejudiced".

The court is now considering the amount of fine which should be imposed.

Two High Court judges heard there was "sensational publicity" over the allegations.

Philip Havers QC, appearing for the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, said both the attorney general and the Metropolitan Police issued repeated warnings and guidance to the media.

Intent not relevant

The media was advised that the publication of names or any likenesses of any person arrested was liable to prejudice the proceedings at a stage when identification evidence was an issue.

Mr Havers said the girl had told police she was raped and suffered serious sexual assaults at the Grosvenor Hotel in central London on 27 September 2003.

Mr Cole, who was on loan to Charlton from Chelsea, and Mr Bramble, who plays for Newcastle United and has played for England, both denied the rape allegations, said Mr Havers.

The newspaper was the first media outlet to name the pair.

The girl, who said she had been very drunk, said she had engaged in consensual sexual intercourse with one of the men, but there had been "another act of intercourse" with another of the men against her will.

Both Mr Bramble and Mr Cole agreed to answer police questions and said they had engaged in sexual acts with the complainant, but with her consent, Mr Havers told the court.

Mr Havers argued that the Daily Star article was in breach of the contempt of court strict liability rule, which states that conduct may be treated as contempt if it tends to interfere with the course of justice in legal proceedings, "regardless of intent to do so".

The media were eventually able to legitimately name the two footballers after the attorney general's office said the identification process in the police investigation was complete.




SEE ALSO:
Footballers face no rape charges
09 Jan 04 |  England


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