Celeb child case tests media access to family courts

July 1, 2009

http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/30/02.htm

The media’s new right to attend family court proceedings should only be overturned in the most exceptional circumstances, the President of the Family Division has been told.

When applications were being made to exclude the media from such hearings, the media also had a right to be properly informed of the application and the reasons behind it, said Gavin Millar QC, representing a group of media organisations.

His comments came at a hearing yesterday at which the media were opposing an application they should be excluded from hearings in a case involving a celebrity, a child and the child’s mother.

The hearing was in private, although journalists were allowed to attend.

Richard Spearman QC, for the celebrity, had argued that as a general rule in cases involving celebrities and their children, the requirement to protect their privacy would require that journalists should be excluded from the hearings.

He also argued that protection of celebrities and children’s privacy meant that when applications were made for journalists to be excluded from all or parts of hearings, the media should not be told the reasons on which such applications were based.

The case is the first in which the Family Division has had to consider the operation of the new system of openness in the family court and the rule allowing the exclusion of journalists from all or parts of hearings in certain circumstances.

It is believed that Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division, intends to use the case to set out guidance for the courts on the approach to be taken.
The new rules allowing the media into family proceedings hearings provide that journalists may be excluded from all or part of a hearing if this is necessary in the interests of any child concerned in or connected with the proceedings, or for the safety or protection of a party or witness or person connected with such a person, or for the orderly conduct of proceedings, or if justice would otherwise be impeded or prejudiced.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: