Magistrate forced to identify himself

A freelance journalist forced a magistrate to give his name after he declined to do so during a child truancy case.

Gary Lucken, 33, was covering a case before Sevenoaks magistrates in Kent concerning a mother convicted of failing to ensure her daughter’s attendance at school.

Magistrates adjourned the case for a month as the mother had failed to turn up, but in doing so made highly critical remarks about the defendant jeopardising her child’s GCSE prospects.

Lucken approached the clerk afterwards for the name of the chair of the bench only to be told that the magistrate would prefer not to be named and “did not see why it was necessary”.

Lucken, who recently left his position as news editor at Sussex-based Connors press agency, returned armed with a 1987 Queen’s Bench Divisional Court ruling by Lord Justice Watkins stating that magistrates should not be anonymous. The clerk duly agreed to release the name.

Lucken said: “It amazes me that courts are unaware of what information they are obliged to give out.”

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