(Family Division, Pauffley J, 8 December 2016)
Publicity and reporting – Disclosure
As a result of information disclosed by SO15 (the Counter Terrorism Command, a Special Operations branch within London's Metropolitan Police Service) the local authority initiated proceedings in relation to the young child. The father was alleged to be an Islamic extremist who had travelled to Syria and engaged in terrorism related activities and it was asserted that he was likely to travel there again.
A disclosure order was made against the Secretary of State for the Home Department relating to all information about extremist conduct by a list of family members. The SSHD failed to do so on the grounds that it would compromise national security. The SSHD now sought discharge of the disclosure order.
The application was refused. The information sought in this instance was highly relevant to the question of whether the child was likely to suffer significant harm. The local authority and the court had a legitimate interest in the material. Furthermore, the child and the parents had a right to a fair trial. They had a right to respect for their private and family life. Unless there was a disclosure mechanism for receiving and considering relevant, highly sensitive material from the SSHD then it was difficult to envisage a future for the application.