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Judgement reserved on Herald ​editor

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Barrister Matthew Paul: Pictured with Herald editor Thomas Sinclair​

THE EDITOR of The Ceredigion Herald appeared in court today (Apr 20) charged with breaching a statutory reporting restriction.

Thomas Hutton Sinclair, the 37-year-old editor of the Herald titles, was on trial for allegedly identifying the complainant in a sexual offence case.

Appearing in Llanelli Magistrates’ Court, Mr Sinclair maintained his not guilty plea.

Prosecuting, Emma Myles told the court that the allegation related to an article published in the Ceredigion Herald in 2016.

“The court will be aware that under the provision of the 1992 sexual offences act the complainant has a right to anonymity,” Ms Myles said.

“It is the Crown’s submission that this falls foul of the wording of this act.”

All written statements were accepted by the defence, and the case hinged on whether the article in question breached the Act in question or not.

The court heard from the record of a police interview with Herald deputy editor Jon Coles, in which he stated that he had received the court report in question from a Herald court reporter, and changed the tense from present to past, as well as fixing some errors.

Describing M​r​ Sinclair as ‘a hands-on editor’, he added that Mr Sinclair had the final word over what was published. Mr Coles stated that in this instance he had not been instructed to check whether the content complied with the law, though on some occasions he carried out this task when asked.

In an informal interview last year, Mr Sinclair told police that he had held the role of editor since 2013, although his training was in law not journalism.

He added that as a total of around 1,200 articles were published over the four titles each week, it was ‘impossible’ to edit all of them, and some of this work was referred to the deputy editor. In this case he had not seen the article until it was brought to his attention by the police.

When asked his opinion on whether the article breached reporting restrictions, Mr Sinclair replied that it ‘sailed close to the wind’ but would not allow members of the public in general to identify the complainant.

He pointed out that the defendant in the original case had ‘a common surname’ and that The Herald had not reproduced his address.

When asked if he would have changed anything had he edited the article himself, Mr Sinclair suggested that he may have taken out details of the defendant’s occupation.

However, he maintained that ‘any member of the general public would not be able to piece together who the complainant is’.

He also noted that the reporter who wrote the article had just been coming to the end of a probationary period at the time, and that his staff had already been booked onto a media law course.

Summing up, Ms Myles said that it was the Crown’s submission that by publishing this article, Mr Sinclair had breached legislation specifically aimed at that type of case.

“I respectfully submit that the legislation must be stringently applied,” she added, stating that details of the relationship between the complainant and the defendant in the original case which were published breached the legislation.

Representing Mr Sinclair, Matthew Paul set out the information revealed in the article – the name, age and former occupation of the convicted party, along with the date of conviction and a familial relationship which had existed at some point between him and the complainant. However, he noted that the date of the offence and the defendant’s address had not been included, and no indication had been given as to the age of the complainant.

His argument was that in this case there was nothing in the article which would allow any member of the public not closely connected with the convicted party or the complainant to make any identification.

Mr Paul stressed that for a conviction, it had to be demonstrated that there was a real, rather than a hypothetical risk of identification.

Referring to the case of the Attorney General vs Greater Manchester Newspaper Group he noted that it had been found that the risk of identification was not based on relative statistical probability but ‘a real risk’.

“The Crown has to establish more than a hypothetical, but a material risk,” he added.

Mr Paul noted that the Crown appeared to be of the position that placing the complainant in a ‘pool of potential victims’ was the same as identifying them.

“Identifying, in my submission, must mean only one thing; it must lead to one person.”

Mr Paul added that the familial relationship mentioned could apply to more than one person, and that there was nothing in the report which suggested whether it was an historical or recent offence.

He suggested that the most the article could lead to, if read by someone familiar with the convicted party and/ or complainant, would be to place them in a ‘small pool’ of potential people.

He also noted that this small risk of identification was made even smaller by the Ceredigion Herald’s circulation figures at this time, which amounted to a relatively small percentage of the county buying a copy, and the fact that the story was not placed online.

“Right from the start you are dealing with a low-level risk, made even smaller by the fact that the date of the offence was not mentioned,” he added.

“Overall, you are looking at whether this report would lead members of the public to identify the complainant – it is my submission that it would not.”

District Judge David Parsons reserved judgement until May 12 at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court.

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Community raises funds to save local pub

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A JOB listing has been posted for a couple to run the Tafarn Sinc pub in Rosebush, after a campaign to buy and run the pub has been successful,

In total, £325,800 was raised to buy the pub by the community to keep it open.

Now a job advert has been posted for a couple to run the pub and live in the accommodation.

The applicants will need experience in the industry and speak Welsh.

Hollywood star Rhys Ifans was part of the campaign to save the pub, after the previous owners for the last 25 years decided to retire.

The couple, Brian and Hafwen Davies, were delighted that the community managed to raise the funds to save the pub.

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Former Haverfordwest keeper investigated after racism claims

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FORMER Haverfordwest County goalkeeper Lee Kendall is being investigated by the FA for racist comments he allegedly made towards Eni Aluko.

The current England Women’s Goalkeeping Coach is the latest person to be caught up in the FA’s racism row after former England Coach Mark Samspon was found to have made a racist remark towards her.

Aluko had been giving evidence at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing, held on Wednesday (Oct 18).

She said that the England women’s goalkeeping coach, Lee Kendall, used to speak to her in a fake Caribbean accent.

Eni Aluko: Claims racist comments were made

Eni Aluko said that Sampson had made a ‘racist joke’ to her about Ebola and her family which was later revealed to be him allegedly telling her to be careful her Nigerian relatives did not bring the virus to Wembley.

The FA has also issued an apology to Aluko for the comments made.

A spokesperson for the FA told the Herald: “The FA can confirm we are investigating England Women goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall following new evidence that came to light on Wednesday alleging unacceptable behaviour towards Eniola Aluko during an England camp.”

Kendall made 136 appearance for Haverfordwest County between 2003-2007.

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Pembroke: Wheelchair-bound man jailed for repeatedly attacking woman

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A WHEELCHAIR-BOUND Pembroke Dock man left a woman with scars and injuries after he attacked her on four different occasions.

Lewis Laville, aged 23, threw heavy objects at the woman, twice striking her on her head causing serious bleeding and permanent scars.

On another occasion he caused her such serious leg injuries that she could not get up off the floor. But Laville ignored her pleas for an ambulance and left her on the floor for an hour.

In the final incident, Laville knocked out a front tooth.

Laville, of Powell Close, admitted four offences of assault causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for 18 months.

In one incident, Laville had begun insulting her and, after a row, through a can of hairspray at her. It struck her head, causing two cuts and scars.

Shortly afterwards he threw a glass ashtray at her, again hitting her on the head. Later, he through a heavy metal horseshoe at her, striking her leg, and finally a glass photo frame, which knocked out one tooth and cut another in half.

The victim had to attend a wedding with a missing tooth, the court heard.

In a victim impact statement the woman said she still had nightmares about Laville.

Laville, who wept throughout the hearing, had previous convictions for assaulting a partner.

Jon Tarrant, the barrister representing the victim, said he had had issues with alcohol but had been taking steps to deal with them.

And there had been fears about his mental stability, but he was also receiving treatment for that.

Mr Tarrant said he was now in a relationship and his partner was pregnant.

Judge Geraint Walters said he noted that Laville had not entered a guilty plea until the day of his trial.

He told Laville: “You subjected her to some very real violence and routinely and systematically abused her, causing not insignificant injuries.

“You were quite sadistic towards her.

“It is true you had your own difficulties as a result of an accident that left you confined to a wheelchair.

“The court has shown you considerable leniency in the past and has bent over backwards to see if you could be helped. But you rewarded that leniency by reoffending and breaching orders.”

Judge Walters issued a 10 year restraining order preventing Laville from contacting the woman after his release from prison.

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