Correcting, clarifying or commenting on media reports of family court cases

Explaining or commenting on published judgments of family court cases

Highlighting other transparency news

MEDIA (MIS)REPORTS OF FAMILY COURT CASES

Most media outlets via the Press Association – Alongside others, we commented on media reports of a remark attributed to Hayden J from a preliminary court of protection hearing, and the responses that followed. See Does a man have a right to sex with his wife? (See also this report in the Times today by a nameless family barrister and twitter thread responses here and here):

(Also on the subject of public trust and finding the right balance between responding to things suggestive of injustice, and rushing to judgment on social media in the absence of the facts, see Videos of children being removed at Pink Tape and twitter thread here, on the Victim Commissioners’ decision to retweet a video of a child being removed from a parent by a social worker, on the basis it looked like an example of how the family courts ‘collude’ with abusers. The tweet has since been removed. (Lucy Reed, author of Pink Tape is also the Chair of the Transparency Project):

Byline Times – We commented on the way Jon Robins tackled the challenging and important issue of expert evidence and traumatic head injury, for Byline Times, in response to a new journal article, Prometheus Shaken Baby Debate. See Byline Times revisits an old chestnut:

The Times (and others) – The Times reported a decision from Mr Justice Mostyn in the High Court that departed from a pre nuptial agreement. See Concierge who wed Avon heiress wins £1.3m despite pre-nup deal. The judgment is here (published shortly after the Times went to press). We aim to comment on both:

Transparency Positive

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and BBC News (Stories) – Boldly tackled twin critical topics of exploitation / abuse of women fearful enough of their unborn babies being taken into care and adopted, to flee the country; and the patchy, inadequate, alternate support structure for such vulnerable women, some 40% of whom are care leavers. (Numbers of newborns removed at birth having doubled in a decade). We commented in Mum’s on the run here:

The Metro (and others) – Reported (with care) a particularly sensitive and accessible published judgment from Her Honour Judge Lynch and published the mother’s poignant note on why she felt her baby should be adopted due to her mental health vulnerabilities. See Mum’s heartbreaking note as she accepts she must give up daughter for adoption at the Metro. Blog to follow. (Note to Metro: We’d love to see a link to the judgment for readers too next time please):

Linker of the week

The GuardianReported the Ombudsman’s decision on Staffordshire’s handling of potential deprivation of liberty cases, with links for online readers to the Ombudsman site carrying the report, and to Community Care explaining and linking to the original judgment. See this tweet.

NEWLY PUBLISHED JUDGMENTS FOR EXPLANATION OR COMMENT

Stocker v Stocker [2019] UKSC17 – We explained Stocker v Stocker courtesy of a guest post from Tom Wright’s Blog. See Facebook Libel and Dictionary Deficiencies. (Rights Info also reported here.)

Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group v RW & Ors – Published judgment from a decision from Hayden J in the court of protection that attracted twitter attention for it’s sensitivity, compassion and respect:

G (Notice to Parents: Duty of Local Authority under s22(4) CA 1989) [2018] EWHC 3939 (Fam) (19 November 2018) – Newly published judgment from a decision last year in the High Court that a local authority didn’t need the declaration they sought in order not to inform or consult with a mother about the therapeutic gender identity treatment (short of medical intervention), of a Gillick competent child, subject to a care order (or of the hearing). Theis J permitted the without notice application and took the view that so far as is reasonably practicable(s.22(4)) allowed use of professional judgment to decide against consulting in these circumstances.

She also redacted the identities of the council, the former judge and all professionals except lawyers and the Guardian, to protect the young person’s anonymity. (Interest in such stories about trans young people in the tabloids remains high suggesting such care is warranted, if reports in recent weeks are anything to go by. The Sun reported that at least 3 children have been taken into the care system because their parents opposed their wish to transition, based on a freedom of information request, and a rise in numbers of under 15’s receiving puberty blocking medication (based on figures supplied by the Tavistock specialist gender clinic). The Mail reported the perspectives of the parents of two young people here and here).

Our March Roundup included Guardian, Mail and BBC Radio 4 (1.46-1.58) reports of a governor’s resignation from the Tavistock citing concerns about the gender identity development service (GIDS) and response to the (no longer published) Bell report (alongside Rights Info on the trans media furore and missing the bigger picture). The Tavistock have now published a new GIDS action plan following a fresh review by their newly appointed Medical Director:

OPG v Stalter – Published judgment from Williams J’s decision to make no order on an application to commit for breach of transparency orders:


IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS

Discover Leveson – We covered the launch of a new interactive online resource documenting the evidence and publications of the Leveson Inquiry into press misconduct (2011-12). See Discover Leveson: new online resource offers researchers convenient access to historic inquiry evidence:

The Open Family Court – Published the results of an investigation into how Ireland deals with the difficult balance between protecting anonymity and allowing scrutiny of the family courts through reporting. See Scrutiny of family courts – what can we learn from Ireland? (Louise Tickle, journalist and founder of the Open Family Court project is also a Transparency Project member.)

Legal Aid – The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice gave evidence to the Justice Committee on the government’s review of LASPO. Still available at Parliament TV.

New guidelines on reporting domestic homicide – IPSO confirmed their intention to publish guidelines from Level Up and Ryan Hart on reporting domestic homicide appropriately. (The Editors Code that remains unchanged by these guidelines prohibits only misreporting that reaches the threshold of significantly inaccurate or misleading in the eyes of IPSO.) The Guardian reported here.

Digital Courts – The Justice Committee began the process of publishing submissions in response to their consultation on the digital courts process and access to justice. (See also ODR hearings: HMCTS approach under fire from US example and UK investigation at LEF funded site Law, Technology and Access to Justice; Courtroom Technologies at InfoLawNewsletter and Online courts advice scheme helps only 14 people in a year from Catherine Baksi at the Times:

The President’s keynote speech to the Resolution conference – Now published at the judiciary site here:

Survey for family law practitioners about medical expert witnesses in cases involving children – The ALC have circulated the following survey from the President’s Working Group:

Diary Dates

Access to justice and online courts (Wales) – The Public Law Project Conference in Cardiff on 25th April features access to justice and online courts with respect to Wales. Information and booking here:

Harnessing transparency in the family courts as a power for good? – Resolution are offering a specialist professional development day for family law professionals examining the dilemmas and benefits of more openness in family court proceedings. The workshop (London based on 27th September 2019) is designed and delivered by Lucy Reed, family barrister and chair of the Transparency Project and Louise Tickle, award-winning journalist writing on family law. Information and booking here.

Protecting Children: Time for a new story – A free public lecture at the University of Huddersfield by Professor Brid Featherstone, on 24th April 2019. Information and booking here:

Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinen via CreativeCommons licence – with thanks