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PUBLICITY/CHILDREN: A Local Authority v W, L, W, T and R (by the Children's Guardian) [2005] EWHC 1564 (Fam)

Sep 29, 2018, 17:04 PM
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Date : Jul 11, 2005, 09:12 AM
Article ID : 85609

(Family Division; Sir Mark Potter P; 14 July 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 1

The mother of a girl and a baby was awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to knowingly infecting the father of the baby with the HIV virus. The girl was not HIV positive but the baby, who had been placed with foster parents, could not be reliably tested until he was about a year old. An injunction was granted during care proceedings relating to both children prohibiting any newspaper or media publication from revealing the names, addresses or photographs of the mother, father, nursery placements or carers likely to lead to the identification of the children. The mother attended a committal hearing and an order was made that an injunction would be considered without notice to the press in accordance with the President's Direction (Applications for Reporting Restricting Orders) (18 March 2005) [2005] 2 FLR 120. However, the local authority served notice on the local newspaper who opposed the grant of the injunction. The injunction was renewed and the matter was transferred to the Family Division of the High Court. The local authority applied to restrain publication of the parents' identities in the criminal trial in order to protect the children. The High Court held that the novelty and issues involved in the criminal charge to which the mother had pleaded guilty rendered the matter of high media and public interest such that the reporting or discussion of those issues would not be significantly inhibited by the grant of the injunction. Although the principal interest of the press was not directed at the children, publication of the identity and photographs of the mother was bound to have an adverse affect on them in a manner which engaged and inflicted substantial damage on their rights under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950, Art 8. If publication went ahead, there was likely to be a focus of attention, pressure and harassment upon the children, and the families both currently and potentially concerned with their care, in a more high profile and intense way than would be the case if the injunction were not granted. There was likely to be serious short term and long-term prejudice to the children if the injunction were not granted and the matter elevated into a widespread and long lasting inroad into the privacy and family life to which the children were entitled. It was thus both necessary and proportionate to protect them against that likelihood of harm that would be avoided, or at any rate diminished, if the injunction were granted.

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