News agency gets name ban lifted

Magistrates overturned a Section 39 Order within six hours of making it – after a successful challenge by a news agency.

The
bench had banned the naming of a 13-month-old girl who was allegedly
abandoned in a busy town by a man accused of being drunk.

The anonymity order was imposed automatically by the magistrates because the girl was a juvenile.

Paul Henry Smith appeared at East Berkshire Magistrates’ Court accused of abandoning baby Lily.

Court
reporter Tom Brooke-Taylor, working for Reading-based INS News Group,
said as soon as Smith was arraigned, the court clerk advised
magistrates to impose a Section 39 Order.

When Brooke-Taylor said INS wanted to challenge the order, the clerk said he would have to make full representations in writing.

At
the end of the day’s proceedings, magistrates considered a faxed letter
sent to the court by INS editor Neil Hyde, arguing that the child was
too young to be affected by identification.

However Brooke-Taylor was told he would have to produce the “relevant authorities for this argument”.

The
news agency faxed a letter to the court, listing previous similar cases
where Section 39 Orders had been lifted and giving the stated reasons.
This was also not considered good enough.

Finally, a document on
reporting restrictions, supported by the Newspaper Society, was
produced by court staff from their office above the court. Magistrate
Sheila McLoughlin then lifted the order.

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