Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) (‘Spycatcher’): HL 13 Oct 1988. 102.

That is the purpose which the court was intending to fulfil in seeking to administer justice between the parties in the particular litigation of which it has become seized.

The power to commit for contempt ensures that acts and words tending to obstruct the administration of justice are prohibited. London WC1R 5AH, T 020 7242 2902

The judge held that it was sufficient that his conduct was intended to impede and prejudice the administration of justice by disclosing material which the court intended should not be published until after the trial. The reason for the inclusion of the second proviso was in my opinion no more than to assist the defendant and any third parties by providing a quick and inexpensive way of excluding "innocuous material" from the order without requiring them to apply to the court for a variation. Having done so, he concluded that the actus reus of contempt was not the publication of the material covered by the order but the destruction of the confidentiality of the material which it had been the purpose of the injunction to preserve: p 1057E, para 97.

As Lord Oliver explained in Attorney General v Times Newspapers Ltd [1992] 1 AC 191, 223F, there can never be any doubt in anyone's mind what the court's purpose was in making an order prohibiting the publication of confidential information such as that obtained by a person in the course of his employment as a member of the security services.

Section 12(3) provides.

In my opinion the correct issue of fact was that identified by Simon Brown LJ at p 1065A-B, para 131. In those circumstances it seems to me that the form of order which he made was well within the ambit of his discretion. This defence was rejected by the judge as irrelevant, in view of his finding as to the purpose of the injunctions.

The respondent's primary argument in the appeal was that that the judge should have accepted his evidence that he believed that the purpose of the injunctions was to prevent the publication of matter that might be damaging to national security, and that his mistake as to their true purpose meant that he did not have the necessary mens rea when he acted in a way that defeated that purpose. References: [1988] Ch 333, [1987] 3 All ER 276, [1987] 3 WLR 942 Coram: Lloyd LJ, Lord Donaldson MR Ratio: The court explained the common law basis of the law of contempt of court.

In this case the Attorney General invokes the inherent jurisdiction of the court to ensure the effective administration of justice. swarb.co.uk is published by David Swarbrick of 10 Halifax Road, Brighouse West Yorkshire HD6 2AG. Neither Mr Shayler nor Associated Newspapers appeared when the action came before Hooper J, but solicitors for Associated Newspapers had written a letter consenting to the order which Hooper J subsequently made against them.

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100. But I think, that this tends to confuse the issue as to the purpose of the injunctions.

But this does not alter the fact that the court's purpose, when it grants the order, is to preserve the rights of the parties pending a final determination of the issues between them by the court. All of our barristers are able to attend hearings and meetings with clients via telephone or video conference software. He said that the ulterior purpose of the injunctions which were granted in this case was to ensure that the material remained confidential until its status was determined at trial. 106.

In my opinion the only purpose that is relevant to the question whether a contempt has been committed is the purpose which the court was seeking to serve in the interests of justice.

That purpose should not be confused with the court's reasons for deciding that it would be appropriate to grant an interlocutory injunction. But where it is alleged that a stranger to the litigation is in contempt the position is different.

Obviously it would have been still better if one could have devised a form of injunction which prohibited only the publication of harmful material, allowed the publication of innocuous material and left no room for dispute about the category into which any item of information fell. This is an essential ingredient, and it has to be established to the criminal standard of proof.

There was no basis in the evidence for a finding that the respondent must have appreciated that publication might be a threat to national security, nor was it established that he knew that the article continued information not previously published.