Court of Protection to be opened to the media

A High Court judge yesterday paved the way for the workings of a secretive court to be opened up to the media for the first time after ruling on proceedings concerning a celebrity with learning difficulties.

Justice Hedley has allowed an application by several media organisations to attend and report on a case involving a young adult who is severely disabled and has learning difficulties which have left him incapable of making decisions over his life.

The judgment passed yesterday ruled that the man’s name, his talent, disability, and reliance on others for his care and management of his affairs, now and in the future, could all be reported at the hearing when it takes place.

Judge Hedley explained that the little-known Court of Protection was used to manage the property of those who lack capacity.

He said the media should be allowed to attend the otherwise private hearing and report on information already in the public domain, plus material which answered reasonable legitimate questions raised by the case.

But other matters including his earnings, details of his care, family discussions and medical treatment should remain private.

Family courts were opened to media scrutiny for the first time this year following calls for the press to be allowed to report on cases involving children and divorcing adults.

But the Court of Protection, which oversees decisions about adults with impaired mental capacity, was one of the few remaining courts that still acted behind a wall of privacy.

Judge Hedley also gave permission for an appeal on his ruling that the protection hearing should be open to the media.

He ruled his own decision should be tested in the Court of Appeal because of his conclusions over the balance between privacy and freedom of expression.

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