Court Reporting: The Facts

Like most news organisations, we report from courtrooms on a regular basis.

Following the strict rules and laws in place surrounding reporting from court, our accredited journalists provide the public with important updates on criminal cases heard at Wiltshire’s crown and magistrates’ courts in Swindon and Salisbury.

Before we answer some of the common questions we receive from those involved or connected to a court case, here are three key facts you should know:

1. In a courtroom, journalists have absolute privilege. This means we can report whatever is said by anyone there – including defendants, victims, witnesses, prosecutors, solicitors, magistrates, judges or members of the public. Journalists are immune from liability for defamatory statements made by others during proceedings.

2. Journalists are, in most circumstances, allowed to publish personal information about anyone who attends court – this can include their address, date of birth or photograph.

3. Stories should be balanced, but journalists are allowed to choose what information they report. There is no requirement to report everything said during a hearing.

Frequently asked questions

Q. You have published a story about my court hearing. Can I get it removed?

A. No. As a rule of thumb, we do not remove or change court stories. Some defendants make threats, attempt to intimidate or blackmail our reporters into removing a story. Over the years, many people have found themselves arrested or prosecuted as a result.

If you’ve read this page, but still have a question regarding Wiltshire 999s’ court coverage, please email [email protected] or find out how to make a complaint.