'Scandalising the court': Stormont committee in bid to abolish offence

Court room The offence is a form of contempt of court but has not been successfully prosecuted since 1931

Related Stories

The Stormont justice committee wants to abolish the ancient offence of "scandalising the court".

It has tabled an amendment to a Criminal Justice Bill currently making its way through the assembly.

The offence hit the headlines last year when the NI Attorney General John Larkin used it to bring contempt of court charges against the former NI Secretary of State Peter Hain.

It was over comments made about a judge in a book.

The case was later dropped, but not before the use of the old law provoked criticism from more than 100 MPs.

In November, the Justice Minister David Ford declined an offer from the UK Ministry of Justice that the offence could be abolished as part of a review of the law under way in England and Wales.

Mr Ford said any decision should be taken by Stormont but added that, in his view, abolishing the offence was not important compared to his many other priorities.

However, the Stormont justice committee has now put forward its own amendment abolishing the offence.

The amendment is likely to be considered when the Criminal Justice Bill is debated again in the assembly on Tuesday next week.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories


Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world


  • Tuna and avacadoThe Travel Show Watch

    Is Tokyo set to become the world's gourmet capital?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.