British tabloid journalist case goes to trial


British tabloid journalist, Simon Wright, will go to trial in a South African court after prosecutors rejected his bid to have charges related to the World Cup tournament dropped, the court heard today.

Wright was arrested and charged with helping Pavlos Joseph illegally enter the England dressing room after their goalless draw against Algeria in Cape Town on June 18. Reuters reports

The reporter, who had to surrender his passport and has to report to Cape Town police station every day, will be asked to plea when his trial starts on Saturday in the Cape Town Magistrates court. Joseph agreed to pay a 750 rand fine and prosecutors dropped criminal proceedings against the England fan last week.
“The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has evaluated and decided not to accede to the representations (to have Wright’s case dropped). The matter is ready to go to trial,” senior prosecutor Billy Downer told a special World Cup court on Wednesday.

Wright, married with two children, is a reporter for the Sunday Mirror, who sent London-based lawyer Paul Mottram to assist their employee’s defence. The newspaper has denied its reporter, accused of orchestrating Joseph’s access to England’s dressing room, of any wrongdoing in the incident which sparked concern about lax security during Africa’s first hosting of the tournament which ends on Sunday.

Wright faces a charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice and of contravening the law by failing to provide prescribed particulars.
“There is absolutely no charge of conspiracy or collusion between my client and Mr Joseph to commit any sort of crime, there never was,” Wright’s South African lawyer William Booth told the court on Wednesday.

Wright’s bail of 3,000 rand was extended.