An order had been made protecting the identity of a defendant who pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children. The order was made in the interests of his own children, although they had been neither witnesses in the proceedings against the defendant nor victims of his offence.
Held: The Crown Court had no jurisdiction to make the order, but the court went on to make strong general observations about the importance of open justice. The ability of the media to report criminal trials embodied open justice; an important part of the administration of criminal justice was that the identity of those convicted and sentenced for criminal offences should not be concealed. The shame brought to innocent family members, and the perhaps considerable difficulties which they would face, were the consequences of the commission of the offence, and could not warrant anonymity for a defendant save in wholly exceptional circumstances.
Sir Igor Judge P QBD said: ‘This appeal succeeds on the jurisdiction argument. We must however add that we respectfully disagree with the judge’s further conclusion that the proper balance between the rights of these children under Article 8 and the freedom of the media and public under Article 10 should be resolved in favour of the interests of the children. In our judgment it is impossible to over-emphasise the importance to be attached to the ability of the media to report criminal trials. In simple terms this represents the embodiment of the principle of open justice in a free country. An important aspect of the public interest in the administration of criminal justice is that the identity of those convicted and sentenced for criminal offices should not be concealed. Uncomfortable though it may frequently be for the defendant that is a normal consequence of his crime. Moreover the principle protects his interests too, by helping to secure the fair trial which, in Lord Bingham of Cornhill’s memorable epithet, is the defendant’s ‘birthright’. From time to time occasions will arise where restrictions on this principle are considered appropriate, but they depend on express legislation, and, where the Court is vested with a discretion to exercise such powers, on the absolute necessity for doing so in the individual case.
It is sad, but true, that the criminal activities of a parent can bring misery, shame, and disadvantage to their innocent children. Innocent parents suffer from the criminal activities of their sons and daughters. Husbands and wives and partners all suffer in the same way. All this represents the further consequences of crime, adding to the list of its victims. Everyone appreciates the risk that innocent children may suffer prejudice and damage when a parent is convicted of a serious offence. Among the consequences, the parent will disappear from home when he or she is sentenced to imprisonment, and indeed, depending on the crime but as happened in this case, there is always a possibility of the breakdown of the relationship between their parents. However we accept the validity of the simple but telling proposition put by the court reporter to Judge McKinnon on 2 April 2007, that there is nothing in this case to distinguish the plight of the defendant’s children from that of a massive group of children of persons convicted of offences relating to child pornography. If the court were to uphold this ruling so as to protect the rights of the defendant’s children under Article 8, it would be countenancing a substantial erosion of the principle of open justice, to the overwhelming disadvantage of public confidence in the criminal justice system, the free reporting of criminal trials and the proper identification of those convicted and sentenced in them. Such an order cannot begin to be contemplated unless the circumstances are indeed properly to be described as exceptional.’
Sir Igor Judge P QBD, Sir Mark Potter P FD, Wilson LJ, Hallett LJ, David Clarke J
 EWCA Crim 50,  3 WLR 51,  QB 770,  EMLR 3,  Crim LR 554,  2 All ER 1159,  2 Cr App Rep 1
Criminal Justice Act 1988 159, European Convention on Human Rights 8 10
England and Wales
Cited – Independent Publishing Company Limited v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, The Director of Public Prosecutions PC 8-Jun-2004
PC (Trinidad and Tobago) The newspapers had been accused of contempt of court having reported matters in breach of court orders, and the editors committed to prison after a summary hearing: ‘In deciding whether . .
Cited – In 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 . .
Cited – A Local Authority v W L W T and R; In re W (Children) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) FD 14-Jul-2005
An application was made by a local authority to restrict publication of the name of a defendant in criminal proceedings in order to protect children in their care. The mother was accused of having assaulted the second respondent by knowingly . .
Cited – ex parte HTV Cymru (Wales) Ltd 2002
The court granted an injunction to restrain the media from interviewing witnesses during the course of a criminal trial, and until all the evidence was complete. One witness would have to be recalled, and others might be recalled, and accordingly . .
Cited – Times Newspapers Ltd v Secretary of State for the Home Department and AY Admn 17-Oct-2008
The newspaper applied to challenge the protection of the identity of the defendant subject to a control order under the 2005 Act. It said that there was no basis for the making of the order without first considering the Human Rights need for open . .
Cited – Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 1999: Application By the British Broadcasting Corporation To Set Aside or Vary a Reporting Restriction Order HL 17-Jun-2009
An application was made to discharge an anonymity order made in previous criminal proceedings before the House. The defendant was to be retried for rape under the 2003 Act, after an earlier acquittal. The applicant questioned whether such a order . .
Cited – NT 1 and NT 2 v Google Llc QBD 13-Apr-2018
Right to be Forgotten is not absolute
The two claimants separately had criminal convictions from years before. They objected to the defendant indexing third party web pages which included personal data in the form of information about those convictions, which were now spent. The claims . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Media, Criminal Practice, Human Rights
Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.264117