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Supreme Court of Denmark

Violation of reporting restrictions 
04-03-2019 

Case no. 137/2018

Judgment delivered on 4 March 2019


The Prosecution Service
vs.
T


T fined DKK 25,000 for having disclosed the name of the suspect in a case subject to reporting restrictions in 10 facebook posts

From January to May 2016, T had disclosed the name of a person charged with attempted manslaughter against a publicly known debater, which was in contravention of the reporting restrictions imposed in the case.

The case concerned first and foremost whether it was contrary to T’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to enforce the reporting restrictions.

The Supreme Court stated that the reporting restrictions concerned a person charged with attempted manslaughter under circumstances where the case was of considerable public interest, which argued against reporting restrictions. However, the Supreme Court also held that the consideration for the suspect, who was not publicly known and who had been detained in absentia, as he resided abroad and had not yet been questioned by Danish police, at this early stage of the investigation argued for reporting restrictions. When weighing the consideration for the suspect against the interest of freedom of expression, particular importance should also be given to the fact that it would be possible both to refer to the attempted manslaughter case and to debate the legitimacy of the reporting restrictions without having to name the suspect.

Against this background, the Supreme Court held that the reporting restrictions amounted to a proportionate measure against T’s freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention. The fact that the name of the suspect had to some extent been made public when T violated the reporting restrictions could not lead to a different outcome. In this regard, the Supreme Court gave particular importance to the facts that violations of the reporting restrictions had been enforced against other persons, and that the suspect, who was covered by the reporting restrictions, had not spoken to the media himself.

The Supreme Court went on to impose a penalty of DKK 25,000 on T for having violated the reporting restrictions.

The High Court had reached the same conclusion.

 

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