'Sharp' reporter gets baby name ban lifted

The Worcester News has got a name ban lifted on a six-month-old baby at the centre of a child neglect case following a court challenge by one of its senior reporters.

It meant the News could name Paul Raymond and Melissa Medakovich, who appeared before the Worcester Magistrates Court charged with being in custody of the baby and causing it to be mistreated, assaulted or neglected.

Raymond, 25, and Medakovich, 19, both entered no pleas to the charge, which relates to the two being in care of baby Rio Medakovich. The Crown Prosecution Service had applied for a Section 39 order to be imposed on the baby, which would have banned the identity of the child in the press. This would have effectively prohibited the identification of the parents.

Magistrates refused it following a successful appeal by senior reporter Joby Mullens who cited the case of his former paper, The Banbury Guardian, which persuaded magistrates in 2000 to lift a Section 39 order banning the identification of a child’s father who had pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a child.

The paper argued the order would only have protected the identity of the defendants and the child was too young to be named. Mullens said that this was a similar case where the child was too young to be prejudiced by the publicity.

Worcester News editor Stewart Gilbert said: "This was another case of the CPS not following its own guidelines — and those contained in the Justices Guide. Luckily we had a sharp reporter in court and once he brought the legal precedent to the attention of the magistrates they swiftly agreed not to place the Section 39 order."

The case against the pair was adjourned until Friday, 17 February.

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