Publication of Family Court judgment and reduction of reporting restrictions following media intervention

A High Court Judge has published a judgment in family proceedings and reduced restrictions on media reporting following an application by media organisations.  The case concerns a mother who has been sentenced today at Swansea Crown Court for the infanticide of a child in 2006 and the wounding of another child in 2007.  Mr Justice Moor’s public judgment describes in detail the circumstances of the death and the injuries to the children.  He describes the South Wales Police’s delay in prosecuting the mother for the 2006 and 2007 offences (she was not charged until 2013). 

 

A Reporting Restriction Order had been made in March 2013 which Moor J said “severely restricts” media reporting of the case, but he has now lifted many of these restrictions following the media’s intervention.  The media could not previously report details such as the fact that the woman charged with the offences is the mother of the child who died and the child who was injured; the fact that the dead and injured children were siblings; the detail of the injuries; the fact that the mother continues to see and have involvement with the surviving children; the name of the local authority; the name of the police force; or the making of Reporting Restriction Orders and their history.  All of these issues can now be reported.  The media were also prevented from undertaking basic newsgathering such as making inquiries about the case.  This restriction has also been lifted.  The judgment also summarises the “quite exceptional circumstances of this particular case” which justify the surviving children remaining anonymous. 

 

Mr Justice Moor in his judgment makes clear that it was “not a satisfactory situation” that the media organisations were not provided with the full papers and evidence supporting the application for a Reporting Restriction Order.  The local authority had first applied to him for permission to disclose the papers.  However he said, “I take the clear view that, in any case where a Reporting Restriction Order is applied for, the Applicant should immediately serve all evidence on which it relies on any media organisation that requests it, provided the organisation has been served with notice of the application either directly or through Copy Direct. It is not necessary for the organisation to intervene formally to obtain the documents as I accept Ms Gallagher's submission that it is very difficult for the media to know whether to intervene or not until it has seen the evidence. The media is, of course, subject to the normal requirements for confidentiality. It follows that there is no need to obtain permission to let them see those documents.”

 

Times Newspapers Ltd., Guardian News and Media Ltd., the BBC and the South Wales Evening Post were represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher in the case.  Her instructing solicitor was Brid Jordan at Times Newspapers Ltd.

 

Click on the links below to review selected coverage:

BBC

South Wales Evening Post

Mirror

Wales Online

 

The judgment is available here.

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