Chapter

* ‘Disgusted, Buckingham Palace…’. Divorce, Indecency and the Press, 1926

STEPHEN CRETNEY

in Law, Law Reform and the Family

Published in print December 1998 | ISBN: 9780198268710
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683565 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268710.003.0004
* ‘Disgusted, Buckingham Palace…’. Divorce, Indecency and the Press, 1926

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The bitterness, distress, and humiliation so often associated with divorce was not entirely attributable to the substantive law. Press publicity—often perhaps just the fear of publicity—was distressing; whilst the adversarial tradition of court proceedings in which one party had to prove the guilt of the other made matters worse for husbands and wives sucked into litigation. This chapter deals with the circumstances which led to statutory restrictions being put on press reporting of court cases dealing with divorce. It is clear that the prohibition on publication of indecent matter added little to the law. Secondly, although the Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act 1926—one of the rare examples of peace-time legislation specifically restricting the freedom of the press to publish material lawfully in a reporter's possession—prevented the daily press from giving detailed verbatim accounts of sensational divorce cases, the direct effect of the restrictions on reporting divorce cases was not significant; and the press proved well able to make copy, even in undefended cases.

Keywords: divorce; press; publicity; litigation; law; court cases; court proceedings; freedom of the press

Chapter.  16311 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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