Right and duty to report on court matters

With reference to letter from RE Dunn, on 18 February in the Whitby Gazette.

I wanted to comment on the issues that have been raised. The letter is in response to a news report on 11 January 2011 called “Robin Hood’s Bay Man fined for motoring offence”.

My view is that the Gazette has the right and duty to report on court matters which are a matter of public record. I think that such reports should be published regardless of their nature or severity. This then avoids only some offences being ‘cherry picked’, leading to some people being ‘named and shamed’ as R Dunn put it, and not others.

As a reader of the Gazette since the 1960s I have noticed a decline in court reporting, especially since the magistrates court in Whitby closed and also given that a lot of offences are now dealt with by fixed penalty tickets and not the court. I think that the Gazette was right to publish the piece on the failure of the Robin Hood’s Bay man, Mr Hoyle, to tax his car. He (and others like him) may prefer this news not to be reported but people should think about this when not complying with the law, rather than afterwards.

Maybe the reporting of such trifling matters will actually lead to an increase in people complying with the law (eager to avoid appearing in the Gazette in this way) – therefore I think the Gazette’s reporting serves a more general social purpose for the community and should be highly commended.

I think the points raises by R Dunn are valid, but that the Gazette did the right thing.

Mrs L Fletcher, St Andrew’s Road, Whitby by email