I'VE had one or two interesting discussions of late with heads of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North-East over contempt of court.

They have amounted to no more than gentle warnings about the dangers of going too far in reports which may be prejudicial to the chances of defendants getting a fair trial.

In each case, I - and the paper's lawyers - have been confident that we have not breached the law. Nevertheless, we have been left with the feeling that we are being watched.

In those discussions, I have made the wider point to the CPS chiefs that it is increasingly difficult to know where we stand when the nationals get away with publishing more or less what they want.

The murder of Jo Yeates in Bristol is yet another example. Today's Daily Mirror carries a photograph of her arrested landlord Chris Jeffries with the headline 'JO SUSPECT IS PEEPING TOM'.

Two ex-tenants are quoted as saying he used to peer intrusively into the flats he rented out. The clear impression left is that he's a pervert.

Chris Jeffries might look a bit odd but so far he hasn't been found guilty of anything.

So I pose the simple question: Is contempt of court a thing of the past - or is it only local editors who feel the heat?