Judge says teenage asylum-seeker attacked by gang can be named by media after reporter's challenge

A journalist made representations in court after a magistrates barred media from identifying an asylum-seeker injured in a violent gang attack, despite national news coverage having already named him.

The victim, 17-year-old Reker Ahmed, was named on Tuesday in reports of the previous day’s court appearances by five people charged in connection with the attack and his photograph was widely used.

The court at Monday’s hearing had made no order giving Ahmed anonymity – adult courts must make an order if they wish any juvenile appearing before them to have anonymity, in contrast to Youth Courts, where anonymity is automatic for all juveniles.

But when a further eight people – five adults and three juveniles – appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court yesterday morning, Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor Frances Lockhart asked chairman of the bench Terry Carpenter to make an order under section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 giving anonymity to all the juvenile defendants and victims in the case – including Ahmed.

Carpenter noted that Ahmed had already been widely identified in media coverage of the case but ordered that nothing should be published which could identify him or any other juveniles involved in the case.

The order would have had the effect of making the case extremely difficult to report, because Ahmed’s name and picture were already widely available on the internet.

Press Association reporter Harriet Line, representing a number of journalists at the court, then passed a note to the clerk saying she wanted to make representations on behalf of the press about the order – and was told that the issue would have to be dealt with after lunch.

She returned to court after taking advice from PA’s legal adviser Mike Dodd, to find that the case was now being dealt with by deputy District Judge Robert Roscoe.

Line started putting her argument that the anonymity order in respect of Ahmed should be lifted, because of the widespread publicity he had already received, when District Judge Roscoe responded by saying that it was clear that in making the order the bench “did not have the assistance of members of the press to remind them” that the matter was already in the public domain.

“It is one of those exceptional cases where everybody now knows who this man is,” the judge said.

He then made an order under section 45, saying that Ahmed could be named but that the two people who were with him and under the age of 18 should not be published.

However, when journalists checked the named and dates of birth of Ahmed’s companions, it emerged that the first, Dilshad Mohammed, was 21, and the other, Hamo Mustafa was 18 and therefore could not be covered by the section 45 order.

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