Criminal Justice Act, 1951

Clearing of court and prohibition of reports of proceedings.

20.—(1) On the preliminary investigation of an indictable offence the Court may, if satisfied that it is expedient for the purpose of ensuring that the accused will not be prejudiced in his trial, do any one or more of the following:—

(a) subject to subsection (4), exclude the public or any particular portion of the public or any particular person or persons except bona fide representatives of the Press from the court during the hearing;

(b) prohibit the publication of information in relation to the proceedings or any particular part of them;

(c) impose restrictions or limitations on publication.

(2) An order of the District Court under paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of subsection (1) shall cease to be in force—

(a) if the accused is dealt with summarily—at the conclusion of the proceedings in the District Court;

(b) if informations are refused—on the expiration of one month after such refusal unless, within that month, the accused is sent forward for trial by direction of the Attorney-General;

(c) if the accused is sent forward for trial—on the conclusion of the trial or the entry of a nolle prosequi.

(3) In any criminal proceedings for an offence which is, in the opinion of the Court, of an indecent or obscene nature, the Court may, subject to subsection (4), exclude from the Court during the hearing all persons except officers of the Court, persons directly concerned in the proceedings, bona fide representatives of the Press and such other persons as the Court may, in its discretion, permit to remain.

(4) In any criminal proceedings—

(a) where the accused is a person under the age of twenty-one years, or

(b) where the offence is of an indecent or obscene nature and the person with or against whom it is alleged to have been committed is under that age or is a female,

a parent or other relative or friend of that person shall be entitled to remain in Court during the whole of the hearing.

(5) A person who contravenes an order or direction of the Court under this section shall, without prejudice to his liability for any other offence of which he may be guilty, be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or, at the discretion of the Court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

(6) The powers conferred by this section are in addition to any other power of the Court to do all or any of the things which this section authorises.