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Wednesday, December 31, 1997 Published at 20:02 GMT


Sun backs down over identification ban
image: [ The injunction against The Sun came shortly before the first edition was due ]
The injunction against The Sun came shortly before the first edition was due

The Sun newspaper has decided not to challenge a legal ban which forbids it from naming the Cabinet Minister whose son is at the centre of an alleged drugs-dealing scandal.

Piers Morgan, Editor, Daily Mirror comments on BBC Radio's Today (3'18")
The Sun said it had decided not to proceed because legal counsel had advised them that the case did not have "an outstanding chance of success".

The Sun had been considering mounting a legal challenge to the injunction, which was granted earlier this week by the Attorney General, John Morris QC.

[ image: Dawn Alford]
Dawn Alford
The ban prevents it from identifying the 17-year-old alleged to have sold a Mirror reporter, Dawn Alford, £10 worth of cannabis, by naming his parent.

BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson comments on BBC Radio's Today (2'31")
No media organisation in the UK has yet named the youth because of the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act, which forbids identifying children under 18 who have been charged with a crime.

The Sun argued in court on Tuesday that this protection does not apply as the youngster has not yet been charged.

Government lawyers had taken the Sun to court after the paper told the minister's office that they intended to identify the boy's father in Wednesday's paper.

Tories question case's handling

[ image: Sir Brian Mawhinney]
Sir Brian Mawhinney
The Sun's decision has not softened Tory attacks on the Government.

The Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Brian Hayes, was forced to issue a statement denying that the police had been subject to political pressures in the case.

"I can state categorially that there has never been the slightest hint of political pressure being placed on the poice in this case," Sir Brian said.

But the Shadow Home Secretary, Sir Brian Mawhinney, is still questioning the motivation behind the arrest on Monday of Dawn Alford.

Brian Mawhinney says Ms Alford's arrest raises questions(1'47")
Ms Alford was detained on suspicion of possessing cannabis after she went voluntarily to a police station. She was later released on police bail.

Sir Brian demanded more information about the arrest of Ms Alford, questioning whether it is normal to make an arrest in cases involving less than two grammes of cannabis.

The Attorney General's office denied any political motivation, insisting the move was made independently of Government influence and in the public interest.

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