Call to increase media access to family courts

Family courts should be thrown open to more scrutiny by the media, according to the Newspaper Society.

The
society, in its response to a Department for Constitutional Affairs
consultation paper, suggests that there should be a general presumption
of allowing the media access to all family proceedings. It argues that
automatic reporting restrictions should be scrapped, leaving courts to
use their own discretion on whether reporting bans should be imposed in
the interests of justice or the welfare of children.

“Lack of
access to the family courts, coupled with automatic reporting
restrictions, make it difficult for the media to alert the public to
cases which highlight deficiencies in the law, or in the legal system,
or in the procedures adopted by social services and other public or
private agencies involved in determining the care and future of
children subject to such proceedings,” the society said.

Sue
Oake, legal adviser to the society, told Press Gazette: “This a golden
opportunity to look at the role the media can play in bringing greater
transparency and open justice in the family courts.”

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