• Correcting, clarifying or commenting on media reports of family court cases

  • Explaining or commenting on published judgments of family court cases

  • Highlighting other transparency news


Alfie Evans – We’ve drawn together some analysis of the many issues that surrounded Alfie Evans short life, and sad death in the early hours of Saturday morning, after life support was withdrawn. See Alfie Evans: Summary and Useful Links. We’ll add to it as we come across commentary we find particularly useful. Suggestions are welcome:


The Sun (followed by others) – Reported an apparent care proceedings decision following a parental order decision in surrogacy.  We aim to comment on OAP TOT AGONY Britan’s oldest new parents, aged 63 and 65, have baby,1, taken away by social services should the judgment be published:


BBC 1 drama the Split – Episode 1 of the TV drama by Abi Morgan, explored the impact of divorce and separation on children, including into adulthood: Directly, through the family law cases family lawyer, ‘Hannah’ (Nicola Walker) deals with; and indirectly, through all three adult sisters, and their (law firm owner) mother, who raised them single handedly after their father walked out when they were young. The twitter legal community seemed to value the drama (even if also noting some technical inaccuracies). Still time to catch up here and form a view, before the second episode on Tuesday:


The Times – Published an article by Louise Tickle (Transparency Project member) exposing poverty and lack of support experienced by ‘kinship carers’. The report was widely applauded, including by Fostering Network, for bringing a vital subject to public attention. (Though Fostering Network also took issue with the online headline, which it felt was denigrating foster care). It is not widely understood that journalists do not write their own headlines, and whilst we can acknowledge the anxieties of the foster care sector, it is difficult to write a piece about ‘kinship carers’ (who are mostly not also approved as foster carers and are frequently asked to take up care immediately or have the child go into stranger foster care), without some degree of simplification / comparison with the ‘alternatives’, such as ‘stranger’ foster care:


 Hull Daily Mail – This Hull Daily Mail article written by a local family lawyer, inspired senior BBC reporter Sanchia Berg to politely point out there may be better ways for a local paper to reach the real stories from their local family courts:


The Daily Mail – Reported lawyers calling for clarity on procedural errors invalidating divorce decisions, that could mean someone had unwittingly committed bigamy. Commentators pointed out that the report, Judges and ministers are told to come clean about blunders after it emerged some couples who won divorce orders are still married, was wrong in claiming thousands feared they might be affected and suggesting a lack of transparency from officials. There was no link to guidance transparently published in the first place by the President, and HMCTS had speedily responded to @seethrujustice on twitter confirming13 divorces were affected. The Mail report was published before that confirmation emerged however, and they did (for whatever reason) subsequently publish our comment confirming the numbers. (See transparency positives below):


Transparency Positive

The Daily Mail – The Daily Mail published our comment with the HMCTS confirmation that the number of petitions affected was 13 (see above). We’ve repeatedly tried to share key facts or link to published judgments through the comments section of this and other publications without success to date, so this is something of a transparency turnaround:



IPSO complaint decision 20480-17: Tower Hamlets Borough Council v The Times – We commented on the decision IPSO published last week, and the context of oral and written evidence from newspapers editors, to the Home Affairs Select Committee. See Press regulator upholds complaint against The Times in the Muslim Foster Carer Case:


The verdict from the coroner’s inquest into Ellie Butler’s death – We updated our post Inquest into Ellie Butler’s Death. (See also the Guardian here):


JY v RY [2018] EWFC B16 (27 April 2018) – A legally ‘ordinary’ case of considerable importance for families and those working within the family justice system, as tweets reflect:


Jonathon Coulter v IPSO– The judgment was published from Warby J’s decision against the applicant on his application for judicial review of IPSO’s handling of the complaint against The Times and Sunday Times (about a campaign meeting held at the House of Lords). See responses from Jonathon Coulter and IPSO and this Gazette report:



The Chartered Institute of Journalists on Open Justice – We responded to the CiOJ report on Open Justice. See Journalism, Judges and Justice – a crisis in court reporting? and some twitter exchanges it provoked :


Mainstream news publishers challenge to the approval of Impress – Permission to appeal the High Court’s initial decision was granted to news publishers trying to overturn the press recognition panel decision to approve Impress as a press regulator under the Royal Charter. The Gazette reported here.

The Lord Chief Justice gave evidence to the Constitutional Affairs Committee – Lord Burnett’s evidence (on challenges facing the judiciary, the modernisation of the justice system, judicial appointments and legal aid) is available to watch here. (The Guardian, the Telegraph and others also reported elements).

The Sir Henry Brooke Annual Lecture on 7th June 2018 – The Lord Chief Justice will also deliver the 2018 annual BAILII lecture on ‘The Age of Reform’. Registration here.

BAILII survey – You may wish to complete BAILII’s short survey here to help them understand what users appreciate about the service and what they would like to see improved.

It’s not my job to believe you – Lucy Reed (Transparency Project Chair) explained the, often misunderstood, matter of how barristers respond to client’s instructions and why at Pink Tape:


Legal Blogging – Free Movement interviewed Lucy Reed (Transparency Project Chair who also blogs at PinkTape) as part of a series on legal blogging:


The ethics of non consensual adoption – The Yorkshire launch of the report from the BASW commissioned enquiry into the role of the social worker in adoption takes place at the University of Huddersfield on 5th June 2018.  Reservations here:


Transparency in the Family Courts: Publicity and Privacy in Practice – By Transparency Project members Lucy Reed, Julie Doughty and Paul Magrath, published at Bloomsbury Professional:


Resolution Annual Conference – Transparency highlights included Lady Hale’s Keynote speech as reported in the Times and Telegraph, and the Panel answering questions including on transparency in the family courts (see threads here):


Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinenon via Creative Commons licence – with thanks