A judge has refused to allow the media to name a father-of-two who admitted 20 child porn charges.
Instead, Judge Warwick McKinnon yesterday reserved his decision over a media challenge to an order he had made under the section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act which prohibits the press from identifying a man who was sentenced after admitting a total of 20 charges of making and possessing child porn pictures.
An order banning publication of the name of the paedophile, a 45-year-old man from West Norwood, south London, was made late last year at the request of the defence, which argued that publishing his name in reports of the case would expose his two daughters to bullying and teasing.
The issue was first raised by the Croydon Guardian and Croydon Advertiser newspapers after McKinnon refused a request by freelance journalist Bill Bailey to lift the ban during a sentencing hearing on 2 April. McKinnon later replaced the original ban, which had been made by another judge under section 4 (2) of the Contempt of Court Act, with a more more detailed order under section 11.
Rival newspaper groups Trinity Mirror, Times Newspapers, News Goup Newspapers and Newsquest joined forces to challange the ban.
Barrister Anthony Hudson, representing the newspaper groups, told the judge at Croydon Crown Court that that the court had no jurisdiction to make an order it under section 11 because the name of the defendant and the fact that he had two daughters had already been mentioned in open court.
Hudson pointed out at today's hearing on the issue that section 11 could not be used to prohibit publication of material unless the information concerned had already been withheld from the public.
As the name of the defendant, and the fact that he has two daughters, had already been given in open court, that information could not now be the subject of a banning order.
The judge suggested that he could lift the ban on naming the defendant, but leave the order in place in relation to information which would "identify" the children – and expressed the view that publishing the name of the defendant, the children's father, would still be covered by that ban.
"The press do not have to name every case that comes into court – indeed, most cases are not even reported," he said.
"If I lift the order, leaving no embargo on naming the defendant, that does not mean that they can name the defendant because doing so would identify the children."
He said he would keep the order in place, and reserve his judgment on the issue. In the meantime, he fixed a directions hearing for Friday next week at which he wanted the children and possibly the local authority to be represented.