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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

18 NOV 2013

PUBLICITY: Re K (Wardship: Publicity) (No 2)

(Family Division, His Honour Judge Clifford Bellamy, sitting as a High Court judge, 8 November 2013)

When the adoptive placement of the, now, 16-year-old girl broke down the adoptive parents sought to publicise their experience of the adoption and prior determinations had been made. They now sought leave to publish a judgment regarding the provision of therapy for the girl, permission to identify themselves as MG and FG, the parents of K (the pseudonyms given in previous judgments) in their conversations with the media and a declaration that it would not be a contempt of court for them to publish, by discussing with the media specific information relating to their history and experience of parenting a child suffering from reactive attachment disorder, of working with the local authority and engaging with the family justice system.

In relation to the publication of the judgment concerning therapy the balance fell in favour of publication, subject to a minor redaction concerning references to the girl's behaviour. The girl's clear and longstanding need for therapy had remained unmet. The provision of therapy was crucial to her long-term future and that issue should be publicised. In addition, transparency was important to instil public confidence in the Family Justice System and to allow greater understanding of the way local authorities discharged their duties and of the challenges they faced.

There was nothing preventing the adoptive parents from identifying themselves by reference to the pseudonyms providing they did not reveal their true names, which, was provided for in the rubric to the judgment. However, any published images must be adequately pixellated and voice or speech must be distorted.

With regard to the request for a declaration, any relaxation of the restrictions imposed by s 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 had to be clear and specific. Since the court did not know the exact words which would be used by the parents in conversations with the media it was difficult to define any clear terms. There was already sufficient factual material in the public domain to permit the parents to discuss the issues meaningfully and any further relaxation of the restrictions was not necessary. In line with the increasing trend of naming professionals involved in a case, the parents would be permitted to name certain individuals when discussing their relationship with the local authority and its failure to provide the recommended treatment for the girl. 


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