A v British Broadcasting Corporation (Scotland): SC 8 May 2014

Anonymised Party to Proceedings

The BBC challenged an order made by the Court of Session in judicial review proceedings, permitting the applicant review to delete his name and address and substituting letters of the alphabet, in the exercise (or, as the BBC argues, purported exercise) of a common law power. The court also gave directions under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 prohibiting the publication of his name or other identifying details and directing that no picture of him should be published or broadcast.
Held: The BBC’s appeal failed. Society looks to the courts to act as guardians of the law, and open justice remains a constitutional necessity. There are however exceptions, and the class of such exceptions is not closed, and anonymity can be appropriate in certain situations.
Section 11 supports the use of the court’s power to allow a name or other matter to be withheld in court proceedings, by conferring a statutory power to give ancillary directions prohibiting publication of the relevant information. It is not limited to protecting the public interest in the administration of justice, or to cases where members of the public are present in court.
‘A is now residing in the country where, as the tribunal concluded, he is at risk of serious violence if his identity becomes known in connection with these proceedings. His application for judicial review of the tribunal’s decision to authorise his deportation has not yet been heard. In these circumstances, it is appropriate both in the interests of justice, and in order to protect A’s safety, that his identity should continue to be withheld in connection with these proceedings, and that the order should therefore remain in place.’
Lord Reed stated: ‘It is a general principle of our constitutional law that justice is administered by the courts in public, and is therefore open to public scrutiny’, but it is for the courts, exercising their inherent jurisdiction, to decide on the ambit and application of this principle.


Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes, Lord Hodge


[2015] 1 AC 588, 2014 SC (UKSC) 151, 2014 SCLR 593, [2014] UKSC 25, [2014] 2 All ER 1037, 2014 GWD 15-266, [2014] WLR(D) 196, [2014] 2 WLR 1243, [2014] EMLR 25, 2014 SLT 613, UKSC 2013/0159


Bailii, WLRD, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC


Contempt of Court Act 1981 11




Leave to appeal to Court of SessionA, Re Permission To Appeal Under Section 103(B) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 SCS 18-Nov-2008
Application for permission to appeal against a determination of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal . .
At Court of SessionA v The Secretary of State for The Home Department SCS 17-May-2013
The reclaimer seeks recall of an interlocutor of Lord Boyd of Duncansby dated 7 November 2012 by which he allowed an amendment of the petition to anonymise the petitioner (the anonymity order) and gave directions in terms of section 11 of the . .
CitedScott v Scott HL 5-May-1913
Presumption in Favour of Open Proceedings
There had been an unauthorised dissemination by the petitioner to third parties of the official shorthand writer’s notes of a nullity suit which had been heard in camera. An application was made for a committal for contempt.
Held: The House . .
CitedEBA v Advocate General for Scotland SC 21-Jun-2011
The appellant had sought to challenge refusal of disability living allowance. Ultimately her request a judicial review of the Upper Tribunal’s decion was rejected on the basis that the UT, being a court of superior record, was not susceptible to . .
CitedCart v The Upper Tribunal SC 21-Jun-2011
Limitations to Judicial Reviw of Upper Tribunal
Three claimants sought to challenge decisions of various Upper Tribunals by way of judicial review. In each case the request for judicial review had been first refused on the basis that having been explicitly designated as higher courts, the proper . .
CitedGuardian News and Media Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court CA 3-Apr-2012
The newspaper applied for leave to access documents referred to but not released during the course of extradition proceedings in open court.
Held: The application was to be allowed. Though extradition proceedings were not governed by the Civil . .
CitedRichardson v Wilson SCS 1879
Lord President Inglis discussed the principle that the reporting of court cases had to be open: ‘The principle on which this rule is founded seems to be that, as courts of justice are open to the public, anything that takes place before a judge or . .
CitedSloan v B SCS 12-Jun-1991
Lord President Hope, delivering the opinion of the court, explained that it is by an application of the same principle that it has long been recognised that proceedings in open court may be reported in the press and by other methods of broadcasting . .
CitedIn Re K (Infants); Official Solicitor v K HL 2-Jan-1963
The House considered the propriety of a tribunal chairman seeing material not placed before the parties. This was a wardship case.
Held: Where the interests of the parents and the child conflicted, ‘the welfare of the child must dominate’.
CitedAttorney-General v Leveller Magazine Ltd HL 1-Feb-1979
The appellants were magazines and journalists who published, after committal proceedings, the name of a witness, a member of the security services, who had been referred to as Colonel B during the hearing. An order had been made for his name not to . .
CitedBank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury (No 1) SC 19-Jun-2013
Closed Material before Supreme Court
Under the 2009 order, the appellant Bank had been effectively shut down as to its operations within the UK. It sought to use the appeal procedure, and now objected to the use of closed material procedure. The Supreme Court asked itself whether it . .
CitedRegina v Socialist Worker Printers and Publishers Ltd, Ex parte Attorney-General CA 1974
In a blackmail case, the court ordered non publication of the names of the complainants. Thinking they were not bound, the defendants published the names.
Held: The publishers and Mr Michael Foot were held to be in contempt of court in . .
CitedScottish Lion Insurance Company Ltd v Goodrich Corporation and Others SCS 8-Mar-2011
The object of the proceedings was to protect the confidentiality of documents disclosing certain identities, and an order designed to achieve that objective had previously been made by the court.
Held: The court permitted the identities of the . .
CitedCanadian Newspapers Co v Canada 1988
The court made order protecting from publication the identities of parties complaining of sexual assaults. . .
CitedDoorson v The Netherlands ECHR 26-Mar-1996
Evidence was given in criminal trials by anonymous witnesses and evidence was also read as a result of a witness having appeared at the trial but then absconded. The defendant was convicted of drug trafficking. As regards the anonymous witnesses, . .
CitedZ v Finland ECHR 25-Feb-1997
A defendant had appealed against his conviction for manslaughter and related offences by deliberately subjecting women to the risk of being infected by him with HIV virus. The applicant, Z, had been married to the defendant, and infected by him with . .
CitedV v The United Kingdom; T v The United Kingdom ECHR 16-Dec-1999
The claimant challenged to the power of the Secretary of State to set a tariff where the sentence was imposed pursuant to section 53(1). The setting of the tariff was found to be a sentencing exercise which failed to comply with Article 6(1) of the . .
CitedB v The United Kingdom; P v The United Kingdom ECHR 24-Apr-2001
The procedures in English law which provided for privacy for proceedings involving children did not in general infringe the human right to family life, nor the right to a public hearing. Where relatives more distant than immediate parties were . .
CitedRegina v Mentuck 15-Nov-2001
Canlii Supreme Court of Canada – Courts – Supreme Court of Canada – Jurisdiction – Publication bans – Criminal proceedings – Trial judge granting one-year ban as to identity of undercover police officers and . .
CitedHer Majesty’s Advocate v Mola HCJ 7-Feb-2007
The court made a section 11 order to prevent the publication of the identity of a woman who was due to be the principal witness at the trial of a person charged with having recklessly infected her with HIV. There was evidence before the court that . .
CitedIn re Guardian News and Media Ltd and Others; HM Treasury v Ahmed and Others SC 27-Jan-2010
Proceedings had been brought to challenge the validity of Orders in Council which had frozen the assets of the claimants in those proceedings. Ancillary orders were made and confirmed requiring them not to be identified. As the cases came to the . .
CitedKennedy v The Charity Commission SC 26-Mar-2014
The claimant journalist sought disclosure of papers acquired by the respondent in its conduct of enquiries into the charitable Mariam appeal. The Commission referred to an absolute exemption under section 32(2) of the 2000 Act, saying that the . .
CitedOsborn v The Parole Board SC 9-Oct-2013
Three prisoners raised questions as to the circumstances in which the Parole Board is required to hold an oral hearing before making an adverse decision. One of the appeals (Osborn) concerned a determinate sentence prisoner who was released on . .
CitedThe Sunday Times (No 1) v The United Kingdom ECHR 26-Apr-1979
Offence must be ;in accordance with law’
The court considered the meaning of the need for an offence to be ‘in accordance with law.’ The applicants did not argue that the expression prescribed by law required legislation in every case, but contended that legislation was required only where . .
CitedWorm v Austria ECHR 29-Aug-1997
ECHR Preliminary objection rejected (six month period); No violation of Art. 10 – ‘The phrase ‘authority of the judiciary’ includes, in particular, the notion that the courts are, and are accepted by the public . .
CitedBBC Scotland, McDonald, Rodgers and Donald v United Kingdom ECHR 23-Oct-1997
The court accepted the compatibility with article 10 of restrictions on the publication of material which may prejudice the outcome of court proceedings . .
CitedCream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and others HL 14-Oct-2004
On her dismissal from the claimant company, Ms Banerjee took confidential papers revealing misconduct to the local newspaper, which published some. The claimant sought an injunction to prevent any further publication. The defendants argued that the . .
CitedIn re S (a Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) HL 28-Oct-2004
Inherent High Court power may restrain Publicity
The claimant child’s mother was to be tried for the murder of his brother by poisoning with salt. It was feared that the publicity which would normally attend a trial, would be damaging to S, and an application was made for reporting restrictions to . .
CitedMackay and BBC Scotland v United Kingdom ECHR 7-Dec-2010
. .
CitedAl Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others SC 13-Jul-2011
The claimant pursued a civil claim for damages, alleging complicity of the respondent in his torture whilst in the custody of foreign powers. The respondent sought that certain materials be available to the court alone and not to the claimant or the . .
At Outer HouseA v British Broadcasting Corporation and others SCS 11-Feb-2009
. .

Cited by:

CitedMX v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and Others CA 17-Feb-2015
Application was made for approval of a compromise of a claim for damages for personal injury for the child. The court now considered whether an order should be made to protect the identity of the six year old claimant.
Held: An order should . .
CitedPNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others SC 19-Jul-2017
No anonymity for investigation suspect
The claimant had been investigated on an allegation of historic sexual abuse. He had never been charged, but the investigation had continued with others being convicted in a high profile case. He appealed from refusal of orders restricting . .
CitedRegina (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 27-Jan-2016
The applicant was a convicted murderer who had been held in a high security mental hospital. His application for unescorted leave had been refused, and he wished to challenge the decisions. Anonymity in the subsequent proceedings had been refused to . .
CitedCherry, Reclaiming Motion By Joanna Cherry QC MP and Others v The Advocate General SCS 11-Sep-2019
(First Division, Inner House) The reclaimer challenged dismissal of her claim for review of the recent decision for the prorogation of the Parliament at Westminster.
Held: Reclaim was granted. The absence of reasons allowed the court to infer . .
CitedElgizouli v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 25-Mar-2020
Defendants were to face trial in the US, accused of monstrous crimes. The appellant challenged the release of information to the USA by the respondent to support such prosecutions when the death penalty was a possible outcome of a conviction: ‘The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Human Rights, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 07 August 2022; Ref: scu.524662