Paper loses court bid to name and shame drunken teenager

The Somerset County Gazette has lost a battle to “name and shame” a 17-yearold girl who was made the subject of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

County Gazette reporter Helen Rossiter had argued in court that it was in the public interest to identify the girl, who had pleaded guilty to three charges of being drunk and disorderly this year.

But Taunton Deane Magistrates Court ruled that, if the girl was named, her chances of getting a job in the future – and her family life – might be compromised.

This over-rode the public interest, magistrates said, and they imposed a Section 39 order, banning the girl’s identity from being disclosed.

It has become common for courts to allow the press to name youths made subjects of ASBOs. This follows rulings by Crown Court judges, who believe naming the youths helps prevent possible breaches of the orders.

Ken Bird, editor-in-chief of Newsquest (Somerset) which publishes the County Gazette, said: “We feel that naming and shaming offenders who are given ASBOs is the only way the orders can be most effective.

“Newspapers should have the freedom to bring readers the full story and that includes making them aware of who the offender is. We will fight on in future cases.”

By Sarah Lagan

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