Confusion over power to prosecute people naming Wrightson killers

Angela Wrightson

Angela Wrightson

Police may be powerless to act against people sharing the names and photographs of Angela Wrightson's killers because of confusion over the law.

The pair were jailed for life last week after a jury at Leeds Crown Court found them guilty of murdering the vulnerable woman at her Hartlepool home.

Judge Mr Justice Globe rejected a media application to lift the anonymity afforded to juvenile defendants on the grounds the girls were in "fragile and emotional states" and had attempted self-harm and suicide.

However, their names and pictures have been shared thousands of times on social media.

Now it has been reported people posting pictures could be beyond the reach of the law because there is disagreement over whether the ban extends beyond newspapers and broadcasters.

Traditional media are banned from identifying the pair because of an order under section 39 of the Children and Young Person's Act.

The law has recently been updated and a new section, section 45, now covers social media. However, the change only came into effect after the two girls first appeared in court.

A judiciary spokesman said: "As indicated by his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Globe gave careful consideration to whether or not the December 2014 order under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 should remain in place.

"If the police or the Crown Prosecution Service wish that order be amended or replaced they are able to apply to the court in the usual way and the judge will consider it."

A Cleveland Police spokesman added: "We have been liaising with the CPS to fully understand the parameters of the order set by the Judge. We will continue to work alongside the CPS to ensure the order is enforced as it stands."