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Supreme Court of Denmark

Affirmation of High Court order on reporting restrictions on the identity of the defendant and private hearing in a drug case 

Case no. 269/2009
Judgment 17. February 2010

The Prosecution

Affirmation of High Court order on reporting restrictions on the identity of the defendant and private hearing in a drug cas
On 31 July 2009, T was brought before the District Court of Copenhagen for a preliminary statutory hearing. T was charged with an offence under S. 191 of the Danish Penal Code.
Shortly before the preliminary statutory hearing, the Danish newspaper "Ekstra Bladet" and other media had disclosed T's name on the Internet, and according to the newspaper, Ekstra Bladet's web article was read by 27,902 readers.
During the preliminary statutory hearing, T applied for reporting restrictions. Due to the nature of the charge, the District Court found that the conditions for reporting restrictions had been met, as disclosure of T's name would subject T to unnecessary harm, cf. S. 31(1)(2) of the Danish Administration of Justice Act. At the motion of the Prosecution, the District Court also ordered that the case be heard in private out of regard for the evidence in the case, cf. S. 29(3)(4) of the Administration of Justice Act. Ekstra Bladet, which was represented at the hearing, objected against both orders and appealed against them to the High Court of Eastern Denmark.
On 24 August 2009, the High Court affirmed the District Court's orders, after which time Ekstra Bladet was granted permission by the Appeals Permission Board to refer the questions of reporting restrictions and private hearing to the Supreme Court.
According to the available information, on 4 February 2010, T was fined DKK 20,000 for having received 1 gram of cocaine for her own use on six occasions. Following the passing of the sentence, the reporting restrictions were extended to apply to a possible appeal.
One of Ekstra Bladet's arguments in support of its claim was that disclosure of her name would not subject T to "unnecessary harm", as it had already been disclosed at the time of the order, and that ordering reporting restrictions is in contravention of Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention concerning freedom of expression.
The Supreme Court held that the prior disclosure of T's name in web newspapers and on various websites could not in it itself justify rejection of an application for reporting restrictions in the case. In addition, Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention could not be applied as justification for not granting reporting restrictions. Accordingly, and as the Supreme Court also agreed with the District Court's justifications for ordering a private hearing, the Supreme Court affirmed the High Court's order.

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