COUNCIL INQUIRY: Defence of nationalities in court reports

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NEWSPAPER staff defended the use of nationalities in court reports when they appeared at the immigration inquiry last week.

Both the Boston Standard and the Boston Target were questioned about why they include nationalities of people who appear at the magistrates’ court, with detractors saying it could inflame tensions in the town by suggesting more crimes were committed by migrants than British people.

However, both titles argued that the nationality of the defendant was often mentioned in court, and as such was a legitimate piece of information in the story.

Speaking at Boston Borough Council’s Task and Finish Group on immigration last week, Nick Purkiss, managing editor at The Target, said: “We don’t use nationalities per se. Often it’s because it’s put forward in mitigation. There could be something about lack of understanding, and we have a duty to represent that because it’s pretty much the main thrust of the defence.”

Standard editor Stephen Stray added: “It’s not for us to censor what is said in court. There is a mix of both foreign nationals and English people there. Two weeks are never the same.”

Both papers attend court on a Wednesday morning, as that is when the majority of criminal cases are heard to their conclusion. Many other cases are heard on other days, or go on to crown court.

For more news from the inquiry see this website tomorrow.