Re S (A Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication): FD 19 Feb 2003

A trial judge had refused an order that steps should not be taken so as to allow S to be identified in reporting the trial of his mother for the alleged murder of his brother by salt poisoning.
Held: The court dismissed the application for an injunction restraining the publication by newspapers of the identity of a defendant in a murder trial which had been intended to protect the privacy of her son who is not involved in the criminal proceedings. Section 39 was inapplicable because S was not a ‘child concerned in the proceedings, either as being the person by or against or in respect of whom the proceedings were taken, or as being a witness therein’. ‘First I recognise the primacy in a democratic society of the open reporting of public proceedings on grave criminal charges and the inevitable price that that involves in incursions on the privacy of individuals. Secondly, I recognise that Parliament has in a number of statutes qualified that right to report and, in the context of this case, most notably in section 39 of the 1933 Act; where a set of circumstances arise not covered by those provisions the court should in my judgment be slow to extend the incursion into the right of free speech by the use of the inherent jurisdiction. Thirdly, I have to recognise that not even the restrictions contended for here offer real hope to CS of proper isolation from the fallout of publicity at this trial; it is inevitable that those who know him will identify him and thus frustrate the purpose of the restriction. Lastly, I am simply not convinced that, when everything is drawn together and weighed, it can be said that grounds under article 10(2) of the ECHR have been made out in terms of the balance of the effective preservation of CS’s article 8 rights against the right to publish under article 10. I should add, although it is not strictly necessary to do so, that I think I would have come to the same conclusion even had I been persuaded that this was a case where CS’s welfare was indeed my paramount consideration under section 1(1) of the 1989 Act.’ The newspapers were not to be prevented in reports of the criminal trial from publishing the identity of the defendant or her deceased son or photographs of them.

Hedley J
[2003] EWHC 254 (Fam)
Children and Young Persons Act 1933 839
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromIn re S (A Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) CA 10-Jul-2003
An order was sought to protect from publicity a child whose mother faced trial for the murder of his brother. The child was now in care.
Held: The court must balance the need to protect the child with the need for freedom of the press. The . .
At first instanceIn 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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, criminal Practice, Children, Human Rights

Updated: 26 January 2022; Ref: scu.219020