4th October 2023
Impress writes to Attorney General over Russell Brand Media Advisory Notice

Impress writes to Attorney General over Russell Brand Media Advisory Notice

Impress Chief Executive Officer Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana has written to the Attorney General asking for an explanation of why a Media Advisory Notice was issued to reporters regarding reporting on Russell Brand.

As there were no active proceedings at the time of its release, it is a move that risks stifling investigative journalism moving forward and potentially limits free expression.

On the contempt of court warning, Kirkconnell-Kawana wrote:

“I am writing to you from Impress, the Independent Monitor for the Press, to express our concern at the recent media advisory notice issued from your office regarding reporting on Russell Brand and the allegations made against him.

“In your warning you advise editors, publishers, and social media users to “seek legal advice” before publishing material on the allegations lest they may prejudice “potential criminal investigation or prosecutions” and may subsequently be thought to be in contempt of court.

“However, at the time of your warning criminal proceedings were not active. As a result, there is no possibility of a publisher being found to have been in contempt of court for anything published before an investigation commenced.

“As the chief legal adviser of the Crown and its government, you and your office’s decisions hold significant weight to the public’s perception of due process and legal norms. You are of course entitled to remind the public that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty. However, a Legal Officer’s duty is to apply the law, not to interfere with the editorial decisions of a free press.

“As the UK’s recognised press regulator, Impress ensures that regulated publishers act within the law and abide by ethical standards; we recently amended our Standards Code to reflect the legal precedent established regarding the publication of people under criminal investigation pre-charge. We will also robustly defend journalists and publishers’ right to investigate and to report allegations of serious crime where legally permissible.

“I would be grateful if you could explain why your warning was published; the legal basis for it, including any legal advice received; whether due consideration was given to the action being reasonable and proportionate, in light of its potentially chilling effect upon free expression; and whether your office expects to apply similar advice to the press in future cases. If so, we kindly request any internal policy you have so that we may review it.”

The Media Advisory Notice sent from the Attorney General’s office can be read in full here

Media enquiries

Louie Chandler: louie@impressreg.org.uk / 02033076778

About Impress 

Impress is a champion for news that can be trusted. We are here to make sure news providers can publish with integrity; and the public can engage in an ever-changing media landscape with confidence. We set the highest regulatory standards for news, offer education to help people make informed choices and provide resolution when disputes arise.