Saturday, 30 July 2011

More on media access to the family courts

I was pleased to see that the report of the House of Commons Justice Committee on the Operation of the Family Courts agrees with me that increased media access should not go ahead.

The report concludes:

"... our witnesses were united in opposing implementation of the scheme to increase media access to the family courts contained in Part 2 of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010. While their reasons for doing so differed, and were sometimes contradictory, such universal condemnation compels us to recommend that the measures should not be implemented, and the Ministry of Justice begin afresh. We welcome the Government's acknowledgement that the way the legislation was passed was flawed, and urge Ministers to learn lessons from this outcome for the future." (para 280)

The report also notes:

"The work of the Office of the Children's Commissioner on media reporting in the family courts gives a voice to the most important, and least heard, group of people in the family court system. The research makes plain that children involved in family court cases fear identification by their community to such an extent that knowing a case may be reported in the media could inhibit them from giving vital information to family justice service professionals." (para 289)

Coupled with the on-going revelations from the hacking scandal, there is now an overwhelming case  not  to increase media access to the Family Courts.