(Court of Appeal, Pill, Toulson, Munby LJJ, 19 November 2012)
Following the conviction of a parent of a serious offence against the child the local authority Safeguarding Children Board undertook a serious case review. The draft executive summary made reference to the Crown Court proceedings in a way which allowed readers to recognise which family was referred to. It also described in detail the fact that another child in the family had also been subject to parental abuse. That information had not previously been in the public domain.
A judge of the Family Division granted a reporting restriction order which effectively prohibited the publication of the executive summary. The local authority applied for a variation of the order to permit publication of a redacted form of the executive summary. That order was granted and the children's guardian appealed.
The appeal would be allowed. The judge had been correct to identify that the summary required redaction, however, the redactions he required, namely: the number, ages and gender of the children, did little to address the real concerns of the Crown Court proceedings and the identification of another child who had been the victim of abuse. In order for the balance between the public interest in the publication of the summary and the private lives of the children to be struck a more drastic form of redaction was necessary.