A Slough Observer reporter persuaded magistrates to overturn a Section 39 order imposed at an Anti-Social Behaviour Order hearing.
Reporter Rajeshree Sisodia made a challenge as High Wycombe Magi-strates were considering a request by South Bucks District Council to impose an ASBO on 16-year-old Charlene Hawkes who, it was alleged, harassed, intimidated and stole from a pensioner and intimidated other teenagers.
A Section 39 order had already been made at an earlier hearing. Sisodia made an application to have the order lifted on the grounds that the only way an ASBO would work was if Hawkes’ identity was known.
She referred to the section of the Human Rights Act, regarding freedom of expression, and also cited previous ASBO cases where Section 39 orders had not been imposed because of the public interest. The application was opposed by Hawkes’ solicitor.
But Lorraine O’Boyle, chairman of the magistrates, said, "A Section 39 order is a discretionary restriction and age alone is not enough of a reason. We believe that the order should not apply. We believe that we would have to have very good reasons, amounting to almost exceptional circumstances, to have the order. We do not have them here."
Observer editor Martin Biddle said: "This was a triumph for Rajeshree Sisodia’s thorough knowledge of the law and her excellent preparation before the case."
By Laura Cruikshank