Halifax Evening Courier reporter Shelley Dyer stood her ground and argued twice over, at Calderdale Magistrates’ Court, that the bench should not impose an identification ban on a dead toddler.
Dyer was reporting a bail application by a mother charged with neglect of her two-year-old son when the Section 39 order was imposed. Her opposition to it was successful.
In an adjournment, Dyer raised the issue with the clerk of the court after both the defence and prosecution solicitors had said it was possible to make the order.
“I disagreed with that,” said Dyer, “I nipped out to my car and rang my news desk.” She went back into court prepared with the appropriate clauses of MacNae’s Essential Law for Journalists to quote to the magistrates.
“I was able to stand up and make my representation, telling them that a Section 39 order was there to protect the identity of children but that when a child had passed away there was nobody to protect,” she said.
She also said that the newspaper felt that it was in the public interest to publish the child’s name.
Once again, the defence and prosecution solicitors opposed Dyer’s arguments, contending that photographs of the child would be used in evidence, which made the child a witness who still needed protection.
Dyer repeated her statements of the law and the magistrates revoked the order.