Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper James Hartley: part 2

Today we attended Preston Magistrates Court in anticipation of listening to a case hearing in relation to the prosecution of James Hartley, a gamekeeper from the Bleasdale Estate in Bowland who is accused of a number of offences in relation to the alleged killing of two peregrines in April 2016 (see first court report for details here).

Photo by RPUK

Mr Hartley has pleaded not guilty to the alleged offences and today’s hearing had been initiated for the court to hear legal arguments from both the prosecution and defence before the onset of a potential trial.

At some point between the first hearing in September 2017 and today’s hearing, this case has been elevated to be heard by a District Judge rather than by magistrates. We don’t know the reason for this.

Legal arguments were not heard in court today, and a further date for those arguments to be heard has been set for 14th March 2018.

In addition, defence barrister Justin Rouse QC requested that District Judge Goodwin direct, under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, Section 4(2), “no publication of preliminary interests“, due to what he described as “inappropriate reporting of the previous hearing“. No details of the alleged inappropriate reporting were given in court.

District Judge Goodwin agreed with Mr Rouse’s concerns and, in the interest of avoiding the substantial risk of prejudicing the case, she directed that “nothing pertaining to the legal arguments may be published prior to the conclusion of this case“.

At the end of today’s hearing we asked District Judge Goodwin for clarification on this point and she told us that as of today we may not publish anything about the specific legal arguments that are due to be heard on 14th March (although we can report on these legal arguments at the conclusion of this case), but we were free to report that today’s hearing took place and we are free to report on the trial (if it proceeds) as long as that reporting is fair and accurate – the usual caveats for reporting on legal proceedings.

Given this direction from District Judge Goodwin, we will not be publishing any blog readers’ comments on this particular case until it has concluded.

Depending on the outcome of the legal arguments to be heard on 14th March 2018, and District Judge Goodwin’s judgement (which she said would be ‘reserved’ – which means she won’t make a judgement on the day of the hearing but will take time to consider the legal position and announce her judgement at a later date), a preliminary trial date has been set for 23 April 2018 and is expected to conclude on 30 April 2018.

3 Responses to “Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper James Hartley: part 2”

  1. January 11, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Thank you for your continuing coverage of these issues, and sensitive, detailed reporting on pertinent cases such as this one. Wishing you a great year ahead… fantastic work!

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