Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Injunction against Charlie Booker lifted following calls for greater transparency in the Family Court

Injunction against Charlie Booker lifted following calls for greater transparency in the Family Court


The Sunday Telegraph has reported that an injunction imposed on journalist Charlie Booker prohibiting him from reporting a Family case concerning the future care of children, has been lifted. It is understood that the injunction barred Mr Booker from making any mention the dispute.

Charlie Booker claimed that the case was clearly in the public interests and the High Court agreed. We can only assume therefore that the separated parents in question were well known.

The Telegraph reports that in his ruling, Mr Justice Mostyn said he was lifting the injunction “because the emphasis should be on transparency” in the courts. He added: “Mr Booker is perfectly entitled to be as rude as he wants about anybody he wants. That is what freedom of speech is about.”

In April 2009, the Government made changes to allow the media to attend Family court cases. However, the court can exclude the media where it is thought necessary in the interests of any child concerned in the proceedings. As a consequence, judges often exclude the press from cases involving custody or residence disputes.

The power to exclude the press from the Family court has been heavily criticised by the press and viewed as an attack on freedom speech. Senior judges are sensitive to this criticism and agree that there should be more transparency. However, the crux of the issue will be whether cases involving decisions about the future of which parent a child should live with can ever be in the “public interest”.

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