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'Many of our members consider that the media is not an appropriate watchdog of the family court and that increased media access is not the way to maintain public confidence and give a balanced insight into family court decision-making. There is currently little confidence that the media can be relied upon to report what is of genuine legitimate interest and importance, rather than reporting what they consider to be of interest ...Further key points from the response include:
Solicitors acting for children are particularly concerned by these proposals; they fear that the necessity to inform children at the outset of proceedings that court documents and expert reports will or may be sent to the media, albeit anonymised, will affect their ability to act in the children’s best interests. It is likely a child would withhold important information from their representative or the professionals in the case for fear of it becoming public knowledge. This could also impact on a child or adult party’s willingness to engage in essential expert assessments.'
'Young people are not naive about this area: they understand the complexities and the political dilemmas to be addressed; they also know judges and other professionals are not beyond making mistakes, but they do not agree that the press could or should be arbiters of justice, fair play or children’s best interests. They understand the issues for some parents who may feel aggrieved by judges’ decisions; but they argue that children’s need for protection of their privacy and long term welfare must come first. Like other research findings they say that parents in proceedings are not necessarily best placed to represent children’s views and interests on media coverage of cases: they give examples of poor judgment by parents and lasting problems for children. They look to family judges to protect them and consider how this can be better achieved.'An in-depth version of Dr Brophy's article will be published in December Family Law. Resolution's response is available to download here. To read, Safeguarding, Privacy and Respect click here.
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