Evening Mail gets child abuse mum named

A legal bid to give anonymity to a woman charged with neglecting her child was defeated when a newspaper objected.

The move left the North West Evening Mail with a front-page splash about how 20-year-old Sarah McGovern had left her 18-month-old son Findlay alone at her home in Barrow in Furness while she went clubbing to celebrate her birthday.

Defence lawyer Maureen Fawcett had planned to ask the court to impose an order under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

The court refused to make an order giving Findlay anonymity, because of previous cases in which it has been decided that very young children cannot be affected by reporting of such cases.

But Ms Fawcett then made it known that she intended to ask for an order which would have given anonymity to an older child in McGovern’s wider family – the effect of which would still have been to give the defendant anonymity.

Evening Mail reporter James Chapelard, who was at the court for the hearing on October 12, said: “The hearing was due to take place in the afternoon.

“When we heard in the morning that the application was to be made, we took advice from the Newspaper Society’s Parliamentary, Editorial and Regulatory Affairs department.

“I was able to see the clerk of the court and make clear that we intended to object to any application for a section 39 order, which would have left us unable to report the story properly and would have meant that we would have had to leave a lot of information out.

“The defence said it wanted the order to protect the wider family from publicity.”

He said the clerk of the court, Ramsey Barker, checked the legal position during the lunch break, and in the afternoon said that the court could not make an order on the other child, because he was not concerned in the proceedings.

The newspaper ran the story on the front page on October 13.

The court heard that police found McGovern in a Barrow nightclub in the early hours of August 11 after she was seen by two friends, who called officers when they realised that she had left her son alone at home.

McGovern, who admitted neglect which could have exposed the child to unnecessary suffering, was remanded on bail to be sentenced in November.

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