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REPORTING RESTRICTIONS: A Council v M and Others (No 3: Reporting Restrictions) [2012] EWHC 2038 (Fam)

Date:1 MAY 2013
Law Reporter

(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 20 July 2012)

A finding of fact hearing concluded that the, now 18-year-old, girl had become pregnant, when she was 16, and gave birth to a son as a result of a programme of artificial insemination using donor sperm carried out under the duress of the mother due to her desire to have another child. The mother was charged with offences of child cruelty. Reporting restriction orders were sought to prevent the identification of the parties which were opposed by three national media organisations.

There was a substantial likelihood that if the mother's identity was widely published other family members would be easily identified in the local community and the criminal trial was likely to attract considerable media interest.

The Art 8 rights of the 18-year old under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 were squarely engaged. The nature of the information could scarcely be more intimate and in circumstances where she had lost her family as a result of crime and abuse her claim to be protected from factors that had the potential to harm or destroy her family life with her child was a strong one.

The Art 8 rights of the 17-year old were similarly engaged. Evidence established that public identification would infringe her right to develop her personality and relationships without interference at a crucial and sensitive stage in her development into adulthood. The 7-year-old was currently in long-term foster care and anything that destabilised that placement or contact with her sisters would be very detrimental to her.

Although the claims of Art 10 rights were very strong, the Art 8 rights were even stronger. The injunction sought was nothing less than an absolute necessity. The proposed infringement of Art 10 was only partial and would not prevent reporting of the criminal trial itself and the wider issues that arose.

The order would remain in place until the girl's child reached 18 by which time he should be equipped to deal with anything that might be said about his background.