One of the more curious things about the arrest of a suspected arsonist and his being charged yesterday is that the man has had his name suppressed by a Victorian court, but because of the jurisdictional issues such a ban only applies in Victoria.
Jeremy Sear over at his blog posted the note below as an update to his latest post
UPDATE: Some irresponsible online sites have named the suspect. This is a serious contempt of court – amongst other things, seriously complicating things for prosecutors – and any commenter who tries that here will be permanently banned.
But I just had to wonder what it means to make such an order in the internet age?
Re your Update The suppression order is silly and essentially unenforceable, up here (in Queensland ) we got to see pictures of the suspect and his name so my question to you is just how can a Victorian court hope to enforce any kind of ban on disclosing the suspects identity in media that is essentially global? It is farce to think that such a ban means anything.
Now because he is a practising barrister in Victoria as well as a blogger I can understand why Jeremy is personally concerned. But I am neither a resident of Victoria nor is my blog “published” there.
Could I be charged with contempt if I were to publish the man’s details here in my blog which is written here in Queensland on a server in the United States? Or if I were to “hot link” to a picture of the suspect on a UK paper’s website or publish the digital images I took of the suspects image from the news reports here last night?
Is there any point of suppressing a suspects name in Victoria in the age of the internet? Such an order is essentially unenforceable and any law or court order that is unenforceable is a bad application of law.
It is an interesting ethical and legal question that I wish I had an answer too.
PS please don’t name the suspect in any comments because this is about a point of ethics and law and not who the accused actually is 😉 I won’t ban anyone for doing so but I will edit out the accused man’s name