All charges against Australian journalists and editors accused of breaching court suppression orders over the George Pell sex case have been sensationally dropped.
The development came on Monday when a trial against 27 media outlets and journalists and editors heard a deal had been reached with prosecutors.
In return for each corporate entity pleading guilty to a breach of the suppression order, the Director of Public Prosecutions has dropped dozens of charges against individual journalists and editors.
“Each corporate respondent has indicated that it will plead guilty, in respect of each publication for which they are charged, to contempt by breaching the proceeding suppression order,” DPP prosecutor Lisa De Ferrari SC told the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday.
Ms De Ferrari said that as a result, the DPP determined it was in the public interest to withdraw remaining charges.
The corporate respondents had agreed to pay a proportion of the DPP’s costs for the prosecution.
The media companies, journalists and editors faced a total of 79 sub judice and contempt charges over their reporting of the Pell case.
Among them are reporters and titles from News Corp Australia, Fairfax/Nine and Mamamia.
The individual journalists and editors were potentially facing severe penalties, including jail, if convicted over the charges.
The Director of Public Prosecutions argued the breach of the court orders prevented any reporting on Pell’s 2018 trial in Australia, because he was yet to face a second trial and the jury may have been impacted.
Cardinal Pell was not named in the reports and the second trial was dropped.
Cardinal Pell was eventually cleared of abusing two choirboys by the High Court and immediately freed from jail in April after 13 months behind bars.
The remaining charges will be heard at a plea hearing on February 10.
News Corp Australia is the publisher of NCA NewsWire.