News praised in abuse case

A
Crown Court judge has praised the Cambridge Evening News after
overturning a section 39 order he imposed twice during a child abuse
trial.

The first ban was imposed by Judge Nicholas Coleman at
Peterborough Crown Court to stop the paper naming a mother who shook
her six-week-old baby girl so hard she was brain damaged.

Editor
Murray Morse wrote to the judge explaining how it would be virtually
impossible to report the full story without naming the parents. He also
argued that the child was so young at the time of the trial, she would
not be harmed by the publicity.

The ban was subsequently lifted
but then reinstated on appeal by Cambridgeshire County Council because
of the affect it might have on the baby’s 12-year-old sibling.

Evening
News assistant editor Peter Jeffrey then appeared in court to argue
that the judge was breaking the spirit of the law by using the order to
protect thewelfare of a child who was not included in the section 39.
He said the paper did not intend to mention the sibling – who was in
care – in any articles.

Judge Coleman decided to wait until sentencing before taking a decision.

Jeffrey
liaised with Sue Oake at the Newspaper Society’s legal department to
draw up a four-page letter which was delivered a day before the
sentencing.

The judge finally decided to lift the ban again and said the paper’s letter was “entirely proper and well argued”.

Morse
said: “This was such a serious case of child cruelty that we felt we
had to argue against the imposition of the S39 to the very end.”

The Evening News splashed on the story. The mother was jailed for four years.

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