Parents of disabled child banned from speaking to media

A High Court judge has banned the parents of Charlotte Wyatt, who was at the centre of a right-to-life battle, from talking to the media about their children or each other — but they can discuss their daughter's medical condition.

The move came as lawyers for Portsmouth City Council sought an injunction in the Family Division of the High Court to protect possible placements for Charlotte. Social workers are seeking foster parents to care for severely disabled Charlotte, currently in St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, after recovering from a life-threatening viral lung infection. Parents Darren, 34, and Debbie Wyatt, 25, from Portsmouth, split up in January. The couple had fought a legal battle to prevent doctors withdrawing ventilation from Charlotte — who was born three months premature weighing just one pound, and suffering serious brain, lung and kidney damage — if her condition worsened.

The latest moves came on 19 October, when Mr Justice Hedley issued an injunction intended to protect Charlotte and other children. The judge, who gave his judgment in open court, noted there was already wide public knowledge of Charlotte's case and an order intended to stop her father talking to the press. There was also intense media interest as Charlotte's third birthday was then approaching. Other proceedings were also due to take place.

Although this was a family law case, and confidence was implied by statute, a great deal of information was already in the public domain. Neither parent had been shy of publicity, though Mrs Wyatt now appeared to have changed her view. Neither parent objected to an injunction being issued.

There were also many indications that if there was no injunction, there was a serious risk that the integrity of the family proceedings would be compromised, and that the chances of social workers being able to find a foster home for Charlotte would be severely reduced. The judge said reports about Charlotte's health had been more moderate.


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