So how did the information get out there before it was handed down? Ah well. As Sivier has pointed out, the judgment was a reserved one, and Mr Justice Nicklin would have had it ready beforehand (final submissions to him had been made on April 7). He would then have sent a draft of the judgment to the parties, those being the legal teams representing Ms Riley (Patron Law) and Ms Murray (Howe & Co).
There are strict rules on what can, and more importantly, cannot be done with those draft copies. Here’s the wording. “A copy of the draft judgment may be supplied, in confidence, to the parties provided that - (a) neither the draft judgment nor its substance is disclosed to any other person or used in the public domain; and (b) no action is taken (other than internally) in response to the draft judgment, before the judgment is handed down”.
Looks like someone bust (a) pretty comprehensively. So what is the sanction for that kind of breach? “Any breach of the obligations or restrictions under paragraph 2.4 or failure to take all reasonable steps under paragraph 2.6 may be treated as contempt of court”. Paragraph 2.4 is the part that got breached. That’s most unfortunate.
On the other hand, there is every reason for someone on Ms Riley’s side to have done it. Who might Mr Justice Nicklin be wishing to lightly grill, then? One would expect Ms Riley to not only know all about talking to the press, but also all about those occasions when one should not talk to the press. And this comes in the second category.
What about her lawyer, Mark Lewis? He may not be involved, and I have no doubt that, were I to make the accusation and it to prove wrong, he would be going after me with every legal instrument at his disposal. So I do not thus accuse.
But the fact remains that Mail Online published, because someone gave them the information. And that “may be treated as contempt of court”. So Mr Justice Nicklin, or someone on his behalf, should be grilling the Mail. And sooner rather than later.
And I’m sure all parties concerned will give any investigation their fullest cooperation.