The identity of a man charged with murdering his three-month-old son can now be reported after a judge lifted a ban despite protests from the man’s defence counsel that publication would identify another child.
Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, passed an order last month preventing the identification of paramedic Gavin Gibbs, 41, of Erith, Kent.
Following protests from the press, including a written submission from the Press Association arguing that the court had no power to make the order, Judge Barker amended his earlier ruling yesterday.
He said: “I am satisfied that the order I made originally is not proper in law.”
He said he initially made the order because of linked proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court.
Michael Turner QC, for Gibbs, had previously argued that Judge Barker should make the order as publishing his client’s details would identify the child, who one day would be able to find details on the internet.
Zoe Johnson, for the Crown, backed the press telling the judge: “The purpose of a section 39 order is to balance between open justice and open and fair reporting, and the protection of children.
“However nicely it is dressed up, it is not there to provide some short of shield for the defendant.”
The child concerned is now 15-months-old and, as was pointed out in guidance on court reporting restrictions issued by the Judicial Studies Board, was too young to be harmed by publicity.
“By the time the child is old enough, this case will disappear into the ether,” said Miss Johnson.
“That risk must be real and not fanciful and we submit that it is a fanciful risk,” she said, adding that the order made had been “clearly unlawful”.