Praise:Mr Justice Ryder
One of the country’s senior judges has said he would welcome consideration being given to ways of making proceedings in family courts more open to the media and the public.
The comments came at the end of the High Court Family Division judgment last week in which Mr Justice Ryder gave his ruling in the so-called “Miracle Babies” trial.
The child, and the adults at the centre of the case, were identified by initials and the judgment made it clear that only those named in the judgment itself, along with lawyers could be identified in any media coverage.
However, the judge said he would welcome consideration of family courts being made more reportable and praised the media for earlier coverage of the case.
“The trust in the media has been amply repaid in this case and I am grateful,” he said.
He said that during the course of the case, which was heard in private, the question of media reporting had been raised more than once and consideration had been given to imposing injunctions relating to reporting.
However, he continued : “The media reporting of the circumstances of this case and the investigation in Kenya has been, if I may say so, a proper exercise of parallel rights and freedoms.”
He said that aside from the public interest in the case itself there was also a growing public interest in knowing of the work that is done in the family courts.
“Provided the private and family lives of people are respected, that is among other things, their personal confidentiality is protected from prurient interest and salacious comment and that the vulnerable are protected, a greater measure of public information about the work of the family courts may go some way to engender public confidence in the sensitive balancing of people’s rights and needs that is an essential component of the social contract that is family justice,” he said.
By Roger Pearson