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Deputy Children's Commissioner welcomes decision to revisit measures on media access to family courts

Ministry of Justice to review measures in the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010

Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England, has welcomed the Ministry of Justice decision to look again at the measures in the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 that would allow journalists to report more widely on family court proceedings. She said: 

"We really welcome the decision by the Ministry of Justice to look again at the measures to allow journalists to report more widely on family court cases. We understand the reasons behind the calls for greater transparency in these proceedings. But children and young people have expressed deep anxiety about these moves and told us that they were seriously worried about information from their private lives being placed into the public domain. Their concerns were brought to Parliament's attention in the Office of the Children's Commissioner's report on media access to family courts.

"We have long advocated for assurances that a child's privacy is upheld and the utmost sensitivity is demonstrated before any information from the family courts is made public. Any change to the current rules on reporting must put the best interests of the child first. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Justice to ensure these children's lives are adequately protected."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said:

"In recognition of the sensitivity of this area, the government wants to look closely at the changes the Act would introduce before any final decision on implementation is taken."

Meanwhile, the Newspaper Society has complained in a submission to the House of Commons' Justice Select Committee that the Act has rendered virtually unreportable legal cases covered by the Act.

The submission says:

"In the final event, the Act became the vehicle for a regime which not only ensured total anonymity for all those involved, thus completely defeating the objective of greater accountability of those involved in the system, but which also, if brought into effect in its present form, will arguably place greater restriction upon the media's ability to report than is presently the case."