Doctor A and Others v Ward and Another: FD 8 Jan 2010

Parents wished to publicise the way care proceedings had been handled, naming the doctors, social workers and experts some of whom had been criticised. Their names had been shown as initials so far, and interim contra mundum orders had been made restricting further identification. The professionals feared that their readiness to act as experts would be reduced if their identities were made public.
Held: The stays were lifted. The case raised issues as to the extent of information restricted under section 12 of the 1960 Act. Not all information about the child is within the scope of section 12, only information ‘relating to’ the proceedings. Moreover it is equally clear that information does not ‘relate to’ the proceedings merely because it is information communicated to the court or contained in documents put before the court.
However,’the fact that a document is for some other reason already confidential no more brings it within the scope of section 12 merely because it is lodged with the court or annexed to a witness statement or report than would be so with a document lacking the quality of intrinsic confidentiality. What brings a document within the scope of section 12 depends not on whether it is otherwise or already confidential but whether it is ‘information relating to [the] proceedings.’ ‘ and
‘one has to distinguish between, on the one hand, the mere publication of a fact (fact X) and, on the other hand, the publication of fact X in the context of an account of the proceedings, or the publication of the fact (fact Y) that fact X was referred to in the proceedings or in documents filed in the proceedings. The publication of fact X may not be a breach of section 12; the publication of fact Y will be a breach of section 12 even if the publication of fact X alone is not.’
Since no order had been made, decisions about what was in the children’s best interests remained primarily with the parents.
As to the risk to the expert witnesses, Munby J said: ‘neither the risks of targeting, harassment and vilification (which I accept are made out to a certain extent) nor the consequential risks of a flight of experts from child protection work (which again I accept are made out to a certain, though I think more limited, extent) are such as to the demonstrate the ‘pressing need’ which alone could begin to counter-balance what in my judgment are the powerful arguments, the very powerful arguments, founded in the public interest, for denying expert witnesses anonymity.’

Munby J
[2010] EWHC 16 (Fam)
Administration of Justice Act 1960 12(1)(a), European Convention on Human Rights 8
England and Wales
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 . .
See alsoBritish Broadcasting Corporation v CAFCASS Legal and others FD 30-Mar-2007
Parents of a child had resisted care proceedings, and now wished the BBC to be able to make a TV programme about their case. They applied to the court for the judgment to be released. Applications were also made to have a police officer’s and . .
CitedClayton v Clayton CA 27-Jun-2006
The family had been through protracted family law proceedings and had been subject to orders restricting identification. The father now wanted to discuss his experiences and to campaign. He could not do so without his child being identified.
CitedKent County Council v The Mother, The Father, B (By Her Children’s Guardian); Re B (A Child) (Disclosure) FD 19-Mar-2004
The council had taken the applicant’s children into care alleging that the mother had harmed them. In the light of the subsequent cases casting doubt on such findings, the mother sought the return of her children. She applied now that the hearings . .
See alsoN (A Child), Re; A v G (Family Proceedings: Disclosure) FD 8-Jul-2009
Application in respect of the proposed disclosure to the General Medical Council (GMC) of an expert report produced in the course of and for the purposes of proceedings in relation to a child. . .
CitedIn Re G (A Minor) (Social Worker: Disclosure) CA 14-Nov-1995
A social worker may relate oral admissions made by parents to him to the police without first getting a court’s permission.
Butler-Sloss LJ said: ‘I would on balance and in the absence of argument give the more restrictive interpretation to r . .
CitedIn re Martindale 1894
Miss Martindale was made a ward of court on 11 April 1894. Knowing that she was a ward of court a young poet and novelist named Ford Madox Hueffer – later known as Ford Madox Ford – married her in May 1894. On 1 June 1894 North J granted an . .
CitedIn re F (otherwise A ) (A Minor) (Publication of Information) CA 1977
An allegation of contempt was made in proceedings related to the publication by a newspaper of extracts from a report by a social worker and a report by the Official Solicitor, both prepared after the commencement and for the purpose of the wardship . .
CitedIn re S (Minors) (Wardship: Police Investigation); Re S (Minors) (Wardship: Disclosure of Material) FD 1987
Local authority case records and a verbatim extract from the case records which had been exhibited to an affidavit from a social worker had been disclosed.
Held: Booth J asked as to the case records: ‘whether the words in the section . .
CitedIn Re W (Minors) (Social Worker: Disclosure); Re W (Disclosure to Police) CA 26-Mar-1998
A social worker may disclose admissions made during investigation into child abuse, to the police without the court’s permission, where the information had not been incorporated in the welfare report filed at the court. The rule (against disclosure) . .
CitedRe M (Disclosure: Children and Family Reporter) CA 31-Jul-2002
The question arose as to whether a Cafcass officer acting as a children and family reporter (CFR) in private law proceedings required the permission of the court before referring to the local authority’s social services department for further . .
CitedNiemietz v Germany ECHR 16-Dec-1992
A lawyer complained that a search of his offices was an interference with his private life.
Held: In construing the term ‘private life’, ‘it would be too restrictive to limit the notion of an ‘inner circle’ in which the individual may live his . .
CitedNorfolk County Council v Webster and others FD 1-Nov-2006
The claimants wished to claim that they were victims of a miscarriage of justice in the way the Council had dealt with care proceedings. They sought that the proceedings should be reported without the children being identified.
Held: A judge . .
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 . .
CitedBrown v Matthews CA 1990
There is a public interest in encouraging the frank and ready co-operation from people as diverse as doctors, school teachers, neighbours, the child in question, the parents themselves, and other close relations, including other children in the same . .
CitedRochdale Metropolitan Borough Council v A 1991
Ten children were taken into care amid allegations of ritual satanic sex abuse.
Held: the allegations were not proved. All but four of the children were returned home. Injunctions were granted to protect the identify of the children and of the . .
CitedRegina v Felixstowe Justices ex parte Leigh CA 1987
The court considered the importance of the role played by the media in attending and reporting court proceedings. Watkins LJ said: ‘The role of the journalist and his importance for the public interest in the administration of justice has been . .
CitedMedway Council v G and others FD 18-Jul-2008
The court considered the extent of publicity for a case where the local authority was to be criticised. . .
CitedNorfolk County Council v Webster and others FD 17-Nov-2006
There had been care proceedings following allegations of physical child abuse. There had been a residential assessment. The professionals accepted the parents’ commitment to their son, but also found that they were unreliable. It was recommended . .
CitedIn re Manda CA 1993
A wardship court can extend its protection beyond the age of majority where a public interest was identified that required it. Whilst those who give evidence in child proceedings can normally assume that their evidence will remain confidential, they . .
CitedMoser v Austria ECHR 2006
The applicant’s son had been taken into care by a public authority. The family complained that the proceedings had been held in secret.
Held: There had been a breach of Article 6, inter alia on the ground that the hearing had not been in . .
CitedIn re W (Wardship: Discharge: Publicity) CA 1995
Four wards of court aged between nine and 14 had given an interview to a newspaper reporter, who plainly knew that they were wards of court, in circumstances which clearly troubled both the Official Solicitor, their guardian ad litem, who . .
CitedRe X; Barnet London Borough Council v Y and Z FD 2006
The judge refused to endorse a local authority’s care plan, and invited the local authority to reconsider it. He criticised the local authority for taking an important decision in pending care proceedings without any warning to the guardian and . .
CitedIn Re C (A Minor) (Care Proceedings: Disclosure); Re EC (Disclosure of Material) CA 22-Oct-1996
Guidance was to the courts on disclosure of care proceedings statements etc to police. But for section 12 it would have been contempt of court to have disclosed to the police matters before the children’s court. . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Company v Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and X and Y FD 24-Nov-2005
Application was made by the claimant for orders discharging an order made in 1991 to protect the identity of children and social workers embroiled in allegations of satanic sex abuse. The defendant opposed disclosure of the names of two social . .
CitedRe L (Care: Assessment: Fair Trial) FD 2002
The court emphasised the need, in the interests not merely of the parent but also of the child, of a transparently fair and open procedure at all stages of the care process, including the making of documents openly available to parents.
Munby . .
CitedRe X (Disclosure of Information) FD 2001
There cannot be an expectation that expert evidence given in a children’s court will always stay confidential. The various aspects of confidentiality will have greater or lesser weight on the facts of each case. Munby J: ‘Wrapped up in this concept . .

Cited by:
See alsoDoctor A and Others v Ward and Another FD 9-Feb-2010
. .

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Media, Children, Human Rights

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.396650