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Report No. 93

4.4. Judicial attitudes.-

Some Courts in England used to adopt an authoritarian approach on the subject. For example, Lord Emsile said in the case relating to Gordon Airs (Daily Telegraph):

"Any witness, including any journalist witness, who declines to answer any competent and relevant question in court, must realise that he will be in contempt and liable to incur severe punishment."1

In one of the English cases decided in 1963,2 Lord Parker told the journalist:

"There must be emergencies in the interests of the State where private interests, professional interests and all interests must be subordinated. Your informant himself is under a duty to come forward and assist the interests of the State. How can you say that there is any dishonour on you if you do what is your duty as a citizen to put the interests of the State above everything?"

1. Anthony Richards Law for Journalists, (1977), p. 82. See also Robin Calendar Smith Press Law, (1978), p. 127.

2. Attorney-General v. Clough, 9 (1963) 1 All ER 420.

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