Scathing attacks upon the judiciary are not uncommon. Contempt proceedings against the authors of such attacks are far less frequent. In a remarkable recent development, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland has been granted leave to prosecute Peter Hain MP for the arcane offence of “scandalising the court”. The move has important implications for free speech in relation to court proceedings and judicial matters. It also raises sensitive issues about the relationship between the judiciary, politicians and the press – a relationship currently under intense scrutiny in Parliament and at the Leveson Inquiry. Continue reading