Cameron Slater has been in the news a lot recently.
Now it appears he is under investigation for another alleged breach of name suppression laws.
Slater will get his day in court - perhaps more than one. I won't speculate on the potential outcome of any criminal trial, as it isn't appropriate to do so.
But it is interesting to speculate just what the system can do if someone decides to flout the law on an ongoing basis. The maximum penalty for a breach of section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985 is a fine of $1000. Bear in mind that is the maximum. In most cases a person found guilty will not face anything like that amount of fine. The court will assess the seriousness of the offence and the offender's ability to pay.
But people who give the system the one-finger salute don't tend to come out of it well. The example I have previously cited is of Vince Siemer, who tried to flout defamation laws but ended up spending time in prison. On the other hand, a breach of section 139 can at worst lead to a fine. If a person was determined to disregard the law, and had no means to pay a fine, it might be difficult for the system to stop that person. Although an approach to the person's ISP might reap rewards.
Interestingly, as at the time of writing this post, Slater's website is offline.
So is the penalty for breaching section 139 too light? That depends, I suppose, on what importance we place on name suppression laws. If we accept that name suppression laws serve an important purpose, then we should arguably do everything we can to ensure effective deterrents to illegal publication exist. It could be argued that a relatively paltry fine is not a deterrent.
I have written previously that our name suppression laws are in need of a shake-up, and the Law Commission has proposed a number of mostly sensible recommendations to clarify when a judge may grant name suppression. If those recommendations are to be acted on, then it may be worth also looking at the penalties for failure to comply with a suppression order.