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Q, R and S (children) (RRO Application) [2021] EWHC 1492

Hertfordshire Local Authority (the LA) applied for a reporting restriction order (RRO) in proceedings concerning three children whose mother was murdered by their father.

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The RRO was made restricting publication of the names or photographs of the children and the schools they attend. A restriction was also placed on seeking information relating to the children or their parents from a carer, the children, the father, the staff or pupils at their schools or any relatives All restrictions were until the youngest child reached the age of 18. 

The LA also sought a reporting restriction that prohibited publication of information that the children were present at the family home at the time their mother was killed, that the 2 younger children may have witnessed her killing and that Q, R and S were left alone with their mother's body for some time. 

The LA's position was that this information, if made public, would heighten the children's trauma and worsen their mental health.  It was well known that the father had killed the mother and had pleaded guilty to her murder.  All 3 children were severely traumatised by events, they were presenting with difficult behaviours and press intrusion may hinder their progress.  The LA position was supported by the children's guardian.

Lee Agnew (BBC 3 counties radio) and Louise Tickle (freelance journalist) opposed that restriction on public interest grounds.  They argued that the age of the children meant they would not be impacted by the reporting, and everyone in the vicinity of where they lived would know the information anyway.  Reporting of these details was also supported by the maternal grandmother

The court determined that the additional reporting restriction sought by the LA and CG was disproportionate

Case summary by Martina Van Der Leij, Barrister, Field Court Chambers

For full case, please see BAILII