It was one of those legal quirks that makes you proud of the England and Wales justice system. The Sun escaped prosecution last week for allegedly naming the victim of a sexual assault after the Crown Prosecution Service bungled the case by naming News International as its publisher. Oh no, said the Sun's lawyers, we're not called News International, we're called News Group Newspapers. Legal manager Tom Crone produced a swath of past litigation to prove his point.
Asked whether News International "holds itself out" as publisher of the Sun, Crone told Huntingdon magistrates court: "Not to my knowledge. Quite the opposite. The publisher, as the attorney general has always known, is News Group Newspapers." Moreover, the Sun lawyer Henri Brandman said there was no such thing in law as News International. "The evidence is absolutely overwhelming that not only has the incorrect defendant been charged but, in fact, there is no legal entity that is the party that's been charged."
Case, as they say, dismissed. But hang on, what's this on the website of News Corp, the umbrella company for Rupert Murdoch's worldwide media empire? "News International publishes four of the UK's top national newspapers - the Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and the News of the World." The address for News International is given as "1 Virginia Street" - Wapping, to you and me. So does all this mean that News International is an illegal entity? We should be told.