A Halifax Evening Courier reporter successfully challenged an order banning the naming of a young crime victim – while his former law lecturer looked on.
Reporter Leigh Dowd disputed a Section 39 order preventing the press naming a child attacked by a dog. The ban was imposed at Bradford Crown Court.
The six-year-old boy from Halifax, Charlie Russell, was savaged by a Rottweiler which had escaped from its kennel.
After the owner admitted owning a dangerous dog, Judge Kerry Macgill agreed to a prosecution request to impose a Section 39 order stopping the media from naming either Charlie or his brother Harry, aged four.
But after Dowd pointed out that the boys’ names were already in the public domain following a frontpage story in the Courier after the attack last August, the judge conceded.
Dowd made the challenge in front of the tutor who taught him media law during a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds.
David Crossland, who was alongside Dowd on the press bench working for the Bradford-based agency Crabtree’s, in which he is a partner, congratulated Dowd on his “textbook” challenge. Dowd said: “David left it all to me and it was a bit like answering one of his mock exam questions. To the judge’s credit, he was very attentive and pleasant.”
Courier editor John Furbisher said: “I think Leigh was more nervous of making a mistake in front of his law tutor than he was of the judge. But he did a great job and deserves a lot of credit.”