• Correcting, clarifying and commenting on media reports of family
• Explaining and commenting on published Judgments of family cases
• Highlighting other transparency news
MEDIA REPORTS OF FAMILY COURTS CASES
The Sun followed the Mirror in updating their inaccurate report about grandparents winning the right to care for a granddaughter they hadn’t known existed, at the request of the Transparency Project
See our earlier blog here. They have also now agreed to be a bit more transparent (by actually putting the date of the correction rather than just dating the new article with the old date as if there was never an error). We will update again in due course.
The Transparency Project explained the court judgment behind the media stories about ‘the boy ordered to live with father after his mother raised him as her daughter’
See A Perfect Storm for our earlier blog about J (A Minor) and here for an interesting analysis of some background issues.
(See also a later Times report here; the Today Programme on Radio 4 here; and the latest Daily Mail story here about a different family in disagreement with their local council about a young persons views about their gender identity. The Transparency Project won’t be writing about this story since there is, at this stage, no court judgment nor other independent evidence, upon which to base a view)
Ellie Butler case debated in the House of Lords
Family Court Reporting Watch pushed its remit to the limit this week to also drew attention to some statements indicating important misunderstanding in the House of Lords this week. See here for that earlier blog.
The Times (followed by the Daily Mail) claimed: “Rotherham Council helps grooming suspects win anonymity”
The actual Judgment of Cobb J makes a mockery of that headline. It shows that the application by Rotherham (and South Yorkshire Police) for the Reporting Restriction Order to extend beyond the child to the identities of the men was motivated by protecting the child from harm arising from identification by ‘jigsaw identification’ and risk of recriminations.
Rotherham had no interest in protecting the men they had suspected of sexual exploitation. Cobb J himself made clear that while the risk to the child was “sufficient on its own to justify the anonymity of the four males but “quite apart from that factor, [he had] reached the firm conclusion that there is no true public interest in naming the four associated males, against whom, in the end, no findings have been sought or made.” (No criminal charges were apparently contemplated after an initial arrest on suspicion of trafficking for child sexual exploitation).
What the case did highlight was:
• That there were lessons to be learnt about better communication between the council and the police before issuing applications like these for injunctions in wardship proceedings to protect a child from alleged risk from sexual exploitation from particular men.
• The effect of the binary system operating. Cobb J had no option but to determine the application for a Reporting Restriction Order on the basis the men were innocent of the exploitation they were originally suspected of. As is well known, family law (as all civil law) “operates a binary system in which the only values are 0 and 1. The fact either happened or it did not”.
• Paragraphs 41-43 and 46 are an interesting addition to a line of cases developing on ‘jigsaw identification’ and risk of harm to children from this.
The Transparency Project linked the judgment to the Times report (pay-wall) at the time on twitter. The Daily Mail report is here. The Judgment of Cobb (published at bailii on the day it was given) is here.
Mr Booker claimed in the Daily Mail that the woman recently jailed for contempt in the Court of Protection “can’t see her lawyer and is denied access to legal papers to start an appeal”
The report is here. Our original blog correcting his previous report about the court decision to imprison her is here. Whilst we have little confidence that the facts on the ground will warrant this new headline, we can’t actually check the facts. We can say that it’s well known within the family justice system that family members do sometimes face delays in getting court documents like transcripts of evidence, to support their appeals and we think that needs to change. It’s also well known that applications for permission to appeal can be made without those documents where warranted with the reasonable steps taken to try to obtain them them set out, though we simply don’t know the facts about whether that was feasible here.
The Echo reported that the “Essex family court case is among first to go to appeal under new system”
That report is here. The Transparency Project will explain the new rules in a blog to follow.
PUBLISHED JUDGMENTS OF FAMILY CASES TO EXPLAIN OR COMMENT ON
The Transparency Project explained new guidance given by the Court of Appeal on abductions of children within the country rather than to another country
See ‘If your ex takes your child to the other end of the country should the court treat it as abduction?’
OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
Impress was recognized on Tuesday this week with reports quickly turning to speculation and commentary on what the government may and should do next
Here are some of the reports we have seen in no particular order:
The demise of court reporters