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Staffordshire bid for injuction fails

Staffordshire council failed in their bid to stop the publication of names, images and video footage of social workers involved in the case of Child J, who was subject to an emergency protection order after being born in April this year. Staffordshire council wanted the court to impose an injunction that would prevent the publication of the names and addresses of Child J, the parents, the local authority and its staff and the children’s guardian. The injunction would also have prevented the release of the video footage and other images.
Courts should balance child's right to privacy with people's right to freedom of expression, rules Munby. Family courts should not prevent parents, the media and websites from identifying social workers once care proceedings have ended, the High Court has ruled. In his judgment Judge Munby, said injunctions that prevented the identification of the children’s guardian, the council and the social workers should only be granted if there were compelling reasons.
On the day Child J was removed from his family, the father posted a comment on Facebook comparing social workers involved in the case with the Nazis’ SS paramilitaries, a comparison the judge, Sir James Munby, described as "grotesque".
The need for open justice means that courts should not gag those with objections, founded or otherwise, to the family justice system, he said. Instead courts should balance the child's right to privacy with people’s right to freedom of expression.
This meant that while the restrictions preventing the publication of the names and addresses of Child J and his parents should be applied, the video footage should not be subject to such constraints. Without other identifying information, the baby could not be identified and it would be difficult for anyone to find out who the child or family was by searching the internet, Munby said.
Munby also rejected Staffordshire’s request for the reporting restrictions to apply to itself, the social workers and the children’s guardian.
Community Care Fri 6th Sept 2013