- 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
MEDIA (MIS)REPORTS OF FAMILY COURT CASES
Sky News (and others) – We commented on a misleading headline from Sky News (online), Man loses court fight over wife’s ‘flirtatious’ kisses (seemingly based on a press association piece) in Hi Sky, Corrected your misleading headline, love TP xxx. The headline wrongly suggested the main reason for a ruling against a man in a family court case, was the Judge rejecting his claim that ‘x’s at the end of his ex wife’s texts disproved other compelling evidence of his serious abuse (that included rape, assault, killing and leaving her cat on the door step and arranging for her to be assaulted by a third party). The casual, gendered, trivialisation of domestic abuse, and failure to engage with real public interest issues crying out to be heard from the family courts from this Sky report (and the Sun, Express, Daily Mail, and even the Independent) also shocked many. We’ll be updating our blog post, with responses from publishers and broadcasters we’ve contacted (the Independent have already updated their report); our discovery that Sky are unregulated in respect of online news items like this, with neither IPSO (/Impress) nor Ofcom responsible; and for the new Domestic Abuse Bill, containing measures to end cross examination of alleged victims by alleged perpetrators, expected today:
The Times – We questioned the claim of Lord Berkeley in the Times that At present the Family Court can issue a care order for a child at risk of forced marriage or harm from a habitually drunk parent, but not for a young girl threatened with having her genitals mutilated. See this twitter conversation between Lucy Reed (Chair of the Transparency Project). Last year’s Children Act 1989 Amendment Female Genital Mutilation Bill (unsuccessful for reasons the Times article discuss) in fact related to subsidiary legislation with no direct bearing on the existing power of the family court to make a care order in such cases where warranted:
Guardian – The Guardian reported apparent contempt proceedings from the case featured in this judgment from a 2017 High Court decision. Judicial committal guidance doesn’t require publication of judgments from decisions not to commit which appears to be what occurred here (though we may still see a published judgment if thought to be sufficiently in the public interest).
BuzzFeedNews – Emily Dugan won the bar council legal reporting award (print and online) in recognition of her impact in promoting public understanding of the law, for A Record Number Of People Are Representing Themselves In Court – This Is What It’s Like on the impact of cuts to legal aid, including in the family courts:
BBC Radio Two – The Jeremy Vine Show provided listeners with a balanced, accurate summary of a family court judgment (A Local Authority v B, H and I (Sibling as carer or adoption), alongside informed critical analysis of some policy questions such cases raise. Catch up here, featuring Alan Johnson (ex labour MP and patron of the Family Rights Group) who was raised by his 15 year old sibling:
BBC One / BBC Radio 4 – Broadcasting the powerful voices of those not only professionally expert but also expert through lived experience (here of the care system). See the One Show (from 3 minutes) featuring Ashley John-Baptiste, and Book of the Week featuring Girl with Dove by Sally Bailey :
BBC Radio 4 – The Battles that won our freedoms delved into the history behind aspects of the law now on financial settlements on divorce:
NEWLY PUBLISHED CASES FOR EXPLANATION OR COMMENT
A and B (Children) – We explained the judgment from this High Court reporting restriction order decision of the ex-President, on cross applications from Hampshire council to injunct and from a (struck off) Christian Legal Centre ‘journalist’ for disclosure and publication of evidence from completed care proceedings. See An interesting judgment about reporting restrictions:
IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
Transparency through the legal blogging pilot – Julie Doughty and Lucy Reed reported from private family court hearings under the legal blogging pilot.
See Journalists & legal bloggers sitting in a row from Lucy Reed (Transparency Project Chair) reflecting the project’s first targeted attendance at a hearing involving issues of significant public interest under the pilot (tipped off by a journalist). Proceedings involve a father’s application (supported by various news organisations) to publicly identify family members in order to encourage return of children wrongfully abducted to Ukraine, and feature the significant legal question of the proper weight children’s welfare should carry in reporting restriction order decisions balancing Article 8 and Article 10 considerations under the Human Rights Act. See reports in the Times and Press Gazette.
And Legal blogging – a day in Cardiff Family Court from Julie Doughty (Transparency Project Trustee), testing out attendance under the pilot at routine family court proceedings in the Cardiff family court:
Transparency Training – Don’t miss the NEW transparency knowledge (CPD) workshop on 29th January in light of the Legal Blogging Pilot (implemented through new PD36J). The workshop, is aimed at lawyers wanting to attend private family court hearings under the pilot or simply to be prepared should legal bloggers (or accredited journalists) attend hearings they are instructed in. Tickets are free, but donations are invited. Please book via our Eventbrite booking page. Further information here. This event has been made possible through the kind sponsorship of Bloomsbury Professional Family Law:
Transparency and council accountability – Herefordshire called an Extraordinary General Council Meeting in response to recent judgments documenting serious failures of children’s social care (including IRO’s) to vulnerable children in their care), and published the two most recent Keehan J judgments as background material. Louise Tickle (Journalist and Transparency Project member) live tweeted from the EGM and provided an accessible set of those illuminating tweets via Wakelet for the Transparency Project. (See also Community Care on the same issues from the other end of the spectrum, reporting on how Essex Council has achieved an outstanding rating; their Communtiy Care and Family Law onArticle 39’s letter before action in judicial review of the government’s ‘myth busting guide‘ to social care, with reference to IRO’s; and the transcript from last week’s House of Commons debate on children’s social care:
AND DON’T MISS….
Michael Rosen on BBC Radio 4 – In conversation with Transparency Project Chair, Lucy Reed on legal language (4pm Tuesday 22nd January):
The 30th Anniversary of the Children Act 1989 – Is it still fit for purpose? – A Gresham College free lecture by Professor Jo Delahunty QC (Thursday 31st January 6-7pm):
Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinen via CreativeCommons licence – with thanks