U.K. Tabloids Accused of Contempt in Milly Dowler Trial Coverage

'Daily Mirror' and 'Daily Mail' to face hearing

A U.K. attorney general will pursue contempt allegations against the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail in connection with the tabloids' coverage of the conviction of phone hacking victim Milly Dowler’s murderer, The Guardian reported today.

This past June, Levi Bellfield was found guilty of abducting and murdering the 13-year-old Dowler in 2002. But before the jury could reach a verdict on a second charge against Bellfield—that he had attempted to kidnap another young girl, 11-year-old Rachel Cowles, the day before abducting Dowler—the trial judge dismissed the jury, claiming that the media publicity surrounding Bellfield's murder conviction was “so prejudicial that the jury could no longer be expected to consider it,” according to The Guardian.

The Mirror and Mail argued that their reporting on the conviction hadn’t created a “substantial risk of serious prejudice,” but yesterday a pair of judges ruled that there was enough of an “arguable” case against the newspapers for the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, to pursue the matter. A full hearing of the contempt claims against both tabloids will be held at a later date.

The Daily Mirror is owned by Britain’s Trinity Mirror, while the Daily Mail is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust.