Chandler court contempt action against Sky News dropped

Paul and Rachel Chandler
Image caption Paul and Rachel Chandler were held for 13 months by pirates in Somalia

The attorney general has dropped contempt proceedings against Sky News over coverage of the Somali kidnap of Britons Paul and Rachel Chandler.

Sky News was alleged to have breached a court order prohibiting publication of details of the "health and welfare" of the couple before their full release.

But Dominic Grieve QC "reconsidered the public interest test in the light of additional relevant information".

Sky News had said it had "scrupulously observed the terms of the injunction".

The Chandlers were kept captive by Somali pirates for 13 months before being freed in November 2010.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said: "The attorney general brought proceedings in his role as guardian of the public interest.

"The attorney general has reconsidered the public interest test in the light of additional relevant information and has concluded that proceedings are no longer required."

Place of safety

Sky News had said it had "followed the spirit, if not the letter" of the court order.

Mr and Mrs Chandler, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were captured by Somali pirates in October 2009 and a ransom demand was issued.

The Chandlers' family went to the High Court after it was thought that intensive media interest was damaging efforts to secure their release.

They were granted an interim injunction by Mr Justice Eady in July 2010 preventing publication or disclosure of any information concerning the health or welfare of the couple until they had reached a place of safety.

The definition of a place of safety "specifically excluded Somalia".

In deciding whether to allow contempt proceedings to go ahead, the High Court heard last November that Sky broadcast news of the couple's release while they were still in the Somali town of Adado.

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