South London papers unite to fight ban on naming child porn man

Rival south London newspapers are continuing to fight for the lifting of an identification ban on a man who admitted 20 child porn offences, in a case which the judge has described as "the children against the press".

The 45-year-old man, from Upper Norwood, south London, pleaded guilty to making and possessing child pornography images, at Croydon Crown Court last month.

He was sentenced to a community service order. But Judge Warwick McKinnon passed an order banning journalists from naming him, because his two children would be bullied at school as a result.

Judge McKinnon said the order was designed to protect the children "from abuse and ill-treatment at school".

A hearing between barrister Anthony Hudson, who is representing the Trinity Mirror-owned Croydon Advertiser, Newsquest's Croydon Guardian and solicitors for the Crown to settle the dispute, was postponed last week by Judge McKinnon because the man's children were not represented. Hudson also represents Mirror Group Newspapers, Times Newspapers and News Group, who all oppose the ban and are sharing the legal costs.

Judge McKinnon told Leila Gaskin, for the Crown, on Thursday: "This case has entered a different phase, this is the children against the press. "It is quite apparent that the solicitors acting on behalf of the children are simply not ready. The children should be represented."

He said that the hearing could not take place because the children's lawyers would have to do further research in light of new information.

Danny Brierley, assistant editor at the Croydon Guardian, said he was hopeful of a resolution and spoke of his frustration at not being able to report the case in full.

He said: "This has been going on for more than a month now and we still cannot name the guy. We're just waiting for Judge McKinnon to make a decision. It's frustrating, but we are confident that this will be resolved, it's just a matter of going through the proper legal process.

"My understanding is that there isn't anything in law to allow a judge to do that."

The newspapers are arguing that the order, made under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act, is invalid as it cannot be made for the benefit of an offender's family, and the fact that he has two daughters had already been mentioned in open court.

The children are not given anonymity by the Children and Young Person's Act 1933 as they are not concerned in the case.

The Advertiser and Guardian successfully argued for the lifting of an earlier order made under section four of the act.

Another hearing will take place at Croydon Crown Court today.

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