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Re P [2013] EWHC 4037 (Fam)

Application for reporting restriction order in the case of mother whose child was delivered by caesarean section following order of Court of Protection. Order granted to prevent the identification of the child. Fuller judgment to follow.

No. FD13P02300
Neutral Citation Number: [2013] EWHC 4037 (Fam)


Royal Courts of Justice
Friday, 13th December 2013


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(In Open Court)

Re P
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Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & CO
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1. This is the return day of an application which came before Mr. Justice Charles on 4 December 2013, the application being for a reporting restriction order.  The circumstances underlying the proceedings are well known, the case having received massive publicity in the media not merely in this country and in Italy, but elsewhere since the story first emerged in the Sunday Telegraph on 1 December 2013.

2. I propose in due course, and I hope next week, to give a fuller judgment explaining the background and my reasons for making the order which will be made today.

3. Very briefly, my reasoning is, in all significant respects, the same as that of Mr. Justice Charles on the previous occasion.  Applying the usual approach in cases of this sort and, in particular, applying the balancing exercise required by the case-law, it seems to me (as it seemed to Mr. Justice Charles) that the arguments in favour of the continuing anonymisation of the child are overwhelming and that the corresponding arguments in favour of the naming of the child, if indeed there are such arguments (and none have in fact been put forward), are exiguous and, on any basis, heavily counterbalanced by the arguments in favour of the child's anonymity being preserved.  That is because fundamentally, as Mr. Justice Charles pointed out, were the child or her current carers to be identified there would be a serious risk of disturbance to the child's current placement with potentially very significant adverse consequences in both the short and long term.

4. On the other hand, very different considerations apply in relation to the naming or otherwise of the child's mother.  The mother wishes to complain publicly about the way in which the courts in this country have handled her and her daughter.  The court should be very slow indeed before preventing a parent doing what the mother wishes to do in the present case.  Indeed, in the present case, following the order made by Mr. Justice Charles, the mother has in fact availed herself of that right and very extensive interviews with the mother have appeared in the English media and also, it would seem, in the Italian media.

5. The child is known by the mother's surname.  The surname of the mother should not be published because there would be a real risk that that would lead to the identification of the child.  The mother, however, has in any event, as I understand it, reverted to using her maiden name and it is, indeed, under her maiden name that the interviews with her have been published.  It seems to me that any argument that if the mother is identified, as has in fact happened, whether by name (by which I mean her maiden name) and/or by photograph, that would in some way lead to the identification of the child is little more than fanciful.  Accordingly, whereas the arguments in favour of the preservation of the child's name and privacy are compelling, there are correspondingly, and in a way that does no damage to the child's interests, very compelling arguments that the mother should not merely be enabled to tell her story to the world at large (if that is what she wants), but moreover that she should be enabled to do so by reference to her name (by which I mean her maiden name rather than her married surname), as, indeed, if this is what she wants, allowing her photograph to be published.

6. For those reasons, and as I say I shall elaborate them in a judgment which I will deliver next week, I have decided to make the order in the terms which have been discussed in the course of Mr. Howling's submissions: an order which does not prevent the mother continuing to do what she has thus far lawfully done but which, subject to certain qualifications to that duration, will, until the child's 18th birthday, prevent the child being identified and, likewise, prevent the child's carers being identified.  That, as was discussed during the hearing, is an order which in principle will survive until the child reaches the age of 18, but will come to an end if before then the child is in fact restored to her mother's care.