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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council v M and Others [2016] EWHC 2660 (Fam)
Date:1 NOV 2016
Third slide
Law Reporter

(Family Division, Cobb J, 25 October 2016)

Public law children – Wardship – Child sexual exploitation – Reporting restriction

The wardship injunctions were discharged and reporting restriction orders were granted in respect of the child and the four associated males.

Applications were made by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to protect the child, who was in her late teens, from four males believed to be sexually exploiting her. Interim wardship and reporting restriction orders were made.

At the final hearing the local authority, based upon the information disclosed by the police, no longer considered it appropriate to seek injunctions against the four males and sought the discharge of interim injunctions. Having regard to all of the evidence presented the judge was satisfied that the injunctions should be discharged.

In respect of the reporting restriction application, no party asserted that disclosure of the young woman’s name was in the public interest. Despite The Times’ commitment to protecting her identity a reporting restriction order was still needed so that the protection she was entitled to was made clear to all media and other organisations. Furthermore, she had a statutory right to anonymity under s 1 and 2 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, given that arrests had been made on suspicion of committing offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

There was a significant public interest in the investigation and detection of child sexual exploitation, in the State's protection of its victims, and in the prosecution of those who perpetrate it. Therefore, it was right to hold the final hearing in public, and to name the relevant council.

It was uncontroversial that the child’s identity should be protected now and for the future. She was an extremely vulnerable young person. If the names of the associated males were revealed the child would be quickly identified in the local community in which she lived. That was sufficient on its own to justify the anonymity of the four males. However, there was no true public interest in naming the four associated males, against whom, in the end, no findings had been sought or made. The Art 8 rights of the associated males would be significantly violated were they to be publicly exposed in the media as having been implicated to a greater or lesser degree, but not proved to be engaged, in this type of offending. The reporting restriction orders were granted.


THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE COBB

This judgment was delivered in public. 
There is a Reporting Restriction Order in place.
The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children, members of their family and the four associated males must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

Case No: SE16C01523

Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 2660 (Fam)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION
SHEFFIELD DISTRICT REGISTRY

Coverdale House
East Parade
Leeds


Date: 25/10/2016


Before:

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE COBB

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Between:

ROTHERHAM METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL
Applicant

- and -

M

F

G (A child)

-and- 

HH, LL, MM, NN
SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE
TIMES NEWSPAPERS LIMITED 
Respondents

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Frances Heaton QC and Rebecca Foulkes (instructed by Local Authority Solicitor) for Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
M (mother of G) and F (father of G) were neither present nor represented
Jonathan Wilson (instructed by Foys solicitors) for G (the subject of the proceedings) 
NN appeared in person 
HH, LL & MM were neither present nor represented
Cathryn McGahey QC and William Irwin (instructed by the South Yorkshire Police Legal Service) for the South Yorkshire Police
Keina Yoshida (instructed by Brid Jordan, Senior Editorial Lawyer) for Times Newspapers Limited


Hearing dates: 19 – 21 and 25 October 2016

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Judgment


Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council v M and Others [2016] EWHC 2660 (Fam).rtf
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