Thursday, 21 April 2016

Everyone in family court case must stay secret

"A judge has decided that the identities of everyone involved in a family court case she oversaw must stay secret - including the lawyers."

"Local authority social services bosses asked Recorder Susan Jacklin to make decisions about the futures of three children at a private family court hearing in Bournemouth, Dorset."

"She has ruled that neither the children, the local authority which launched proceedings, nor the solicitors and barristers involved can be identified."

" `The anonymity of the children and members of his family must be strictly preserved,` she has explained in a preamble to her written ruling on the case. `The names of solicitors and counsel have been excluded in order to protect the anonymity and privacy of the children.`"

"Family court judges normally analyses case involving children a private hearings - although journalists can attend. They almost-always anonymise children in rulings but local authorities are often identified and barristers and law firms involved routinely named."

"A politician who campaigns for improvements in the family justice system said the judge's decision not to name lawyers was `nonsense`."

" `How could anyone possibly identify a child by knowing the name of a barrister? Sherlock Holmes would struggle. If that was the case half the barristers in half the courts in England would have to be A.N...` said former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming. "`It's secrecy for the sake of secrecy.`"

"Nearly three years ago Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, said there was a 'pressing need' for 'much more transparency' in the family justice system. He said the public had a right to know 'what is being done in their name'."

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