Full case report
Re Ward; BBC v CAFCASS Legal & Ors
Case Reference  EWHC 616 (Fam);  2 FLR 765;  Fam Law 704
Court Family Division
Judge Munby J
Date of Judgment 30 Mar 2007
Reporting restrictions - Care proceedings - s. 12 Adminstration of Justice Act 1960 - Disclosure - Anonymised judgments - Contra mundum order to protect medical expert witnesses, treating doctors, social workers and other witnesses in care proceedings - Interim orders - Practice and procedure - s. 12 Human Rights Act 1998 -Duration of order - Requirement of notice
Care proceedings in respect of a baby boy were dismissed. The judge exonerated the parents. While the proceedings were going on, the parents had made a video diary of their experiences. The parents wanted to tell their story. The BBC wanted to view the tapes to determine whether to make a documentary based on them. The BBC was concerned that the tapes might contain information whose disclosure by the parents could constitute a breach of s. 12 AJA 1960. The BBC applied for an order permitting the parents to disclose the tapes to it. The local authority, hospital trust, constabulary and two medical expert witnesses in the care proceedings resisted the application on the basis that professionals involved in the case needed to be protected from identification. The BBC also applied for an order that a 'suitably anonymised' version of the final judgment in the care proceedings be handed down in public.
(1) Whether the parents should be permitted to disclose their video diary to the BBC;
(2) If so, on what terms;
(3) Whether a suitably anonymised version of the care proceedings judgment ought to be made public.
The BBC's applications were granted. The parents were permitted to disclose the video diary to the BBC and a redacted version of the care proceedings judgment was handed down in public. The court also imposed an interim contra mundum injunction restraining identification of the medical and care professionals who gave evidence in the care proceedings, including social workers and a police officer.
A heated dispute about the duration of the interim contra mundum order was resolved in favour of the BBC.
Munby J warned that courts should not release judgments, even in anonymised form, until they have first given anyone affected an opportunity to apply for an anonymity order and complied with the President's Practice Direction.
BBC Litigation Dept for the BBC; CAFCASS Legal, Shire Hall Legal Services, Harman & Harman, Mills & Reeve and Weightmans for the various Respondents