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Publicity and reporting – Concurrent family and criminal proceedings – Father’s parental responsibility limited for safety of mother and children – Publication of judgment – Jigsaw identification
The judge ordered that the judgment should be published in its original format. A reporting restriction order was made preventing the identity of the children and their current whereabouts from being reported.
Meta Title :H v A (No 2)  EWHC 2630 (Fam)
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Sep 22, 2015, 07:24 AM
Article ID :110437
(Family Division, MacDonald J, 17 September
Publicity and reporting – Concurrent family
and criminal proceedings – Father’s parental responsibility limited for safety
of mother and children – Publication of judgment – Jigsaw identification –
Whether the judgment should be published in its original format, redacted or
The judge ordered that the judgment should
be published in its original format. A reporting restriction order was made
preventing the identity of the children and their current whereabouts from
The married mother and father had three
children together. The father was convicted of violent offences inflicted on
the mother and children and was given a discretionary life sentence. In family
proceedings the father’s parental responsibility was limited for the safety of
the mother and children.
Following the hand down of the judgment
H v A  EWFC 58 it was agreed that
anonymisation beyond removal of the names of the children, the parties and
their solicitors was not necessary and the judgment was posted on the Bailii
website. Subsequently the Press Association Court Reporter contacted the judge
advising him that using the facts set out in the judgment alongside information
available on the internet from connected criminal proceedings it was possible
to identify the family. As requested by the judge the judgment was removed from
the website and a hearing was scheduled to determine whether the judgment could
be published in its original format or whether it should remain unpublished or
in a heavily redacted format.
In respect of the Art 2, European
Convention rights of the mother and children, although the father remained a
highly dangerous individual he was securely incarcerated at the discretion of
the authorities. He was in no position to threaten the life of the mother and
children by direct action. He had also agreed to the substantial curtailment of
his parental responsibility for the purposes of ensuring the whereabouts of the
mother and children remained confidential.
If the father were to find out the
whereabouts of the mother and children he would be likely to seek to do them
harm at arm’s length. However, publication of the judgment in its original form
would not permit the father any greater opportunity of locating the family.
Therefore, their Art 2 rights were not engaged.
After consideration of the competing Art 8
and Art 10 rights engaged in the case and the respective justifications for
interfering with them and considering each of the children’s best interests as
a primary consideration, then applying the ultimate balancing test of
proportionality, it was appropriate for the judgment to be published in its
original form accompanied by a tightly drawn reporting restriction order.
In the age of the internet, jigsaw
identification arose as a potential issue in every case where the family court
published a judgment in proceedings arising out of a set of facts that had also
led to criminal proceedings that have been the subject of reports in the media.
The risk of jigsaw identification was not, however, a reason in itself to
withhold the publication of a judgment. The question in each case would be
whether, having regard to the evidence before the court and all the
circumstances of the case, the interference in the Art 8 rights constituted by
the risk of jigsaw identification arising out of publication outweighed the
interference in the Art 10 right of freedom of expression constituted by
This judgment was delivered in private. The Judge has given permission for the judgment (and any of the facts and matters contained in it) to be published on condition always that (a) the names and (b) the current address or present whereabouts of the Applicant and the children must not be published. For the avoidance of doubt, the strict prohibition on publishing the names and current address or present whereabouts of the Applicant and the children will continue to apply where that information has been obtained by using the contents of this judgment to discover information already in the public domain. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that these conditions are strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.
Case No: MA14P01452
Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 2630 (Fam)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
Mr Tughan QC for the Applicant
The Respondent did not appear and was not represented
(The names of instructing solicitors have been omitted to protect the anonymity of the parties)
Hearing date: 23 July 2015