Full case report

Allen v The Grimsby Telegraph

Reference [2011] EWHC 406 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Coulson J

Date of Judgment 2 Mar 2011


Summary

Injunction – Reporting restrictions – s.11 Contempt of Court Act 1981 – s.4(2) Contempt of Court Act 1981 – Anonymity – Public interest – Freedom of expression


Facts

C, a convicted sex offender, had been made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) at a hearing in the Magistrates’ Court in November 2010. A s.11 CCA 1981 order prohibiting the publication of C’s address had been in place since the outset of the SOPO procedings. At the conclusion of the SOPO proceedings, C sought anonymisation of his identity in relation to the proceedings and indicated that he would apply to the High Court for an injunction. The District Judge made a s.4(2) CCA 1981 order prohibiting publication of C’s name until the outcome of C’s proposed application to the High Court.

C subsequently issued a claim against the Grimsby Telegraph seeking an injunction prohibiting the publication of his name or any details which could lead to his identification in the context of the SOPO proceedings. Prior to the High Court hearing, the Grimbsy Telegraph published articles identifying C as a danger to women. The articles did not refer to his address or the SOPO proceedings but it was subsequently alleged by C’s solicitors in correspondence that the articles were in contempt of court. Three days before the High Court hearing C was arrested for alleged breaches of the SOPO and for allegedly assaulting a police officer and was remanded in custody.

At the hearing the newspaper applied for the claim to be struck out on the grounds that it did not disclose a cause of action. C conceded that in light of the alleged further offences he could not maintain the claim for anonymisation.


Issue

Whether C was entitled to anonymisation in respect of the SOPO proceedings.


Held

Striking out the claim:

(1) C had no cause of action against the Grimsby Telegraph and there was therefore no basis on which an injunction could be granted.

(2) The order for anonymity was not justified in any event, the public’s need for protection far outweighing C’s right to respect for his private life.

(3) There was no doubt that the articles were not a contempt of court and did not amount to a breach of the s.4(2) order – the articles made no reference to the SOPO proceedings, which was the only subect matter of the claim for an injunction in the first place.

(4) The recent arrest of C was also fatal to the claim. C’s counsel had conceded that if C was in breach of the SOPO he would not have any grounds to seek an order that his name be withheld from the reports of the proceedings.


Comment

The case demonstrates the potential pitfalls in attempting to obtain anonymity orders at the conclusion of proceedings which have taken place in open court.


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Instructing Solicitors

Roy Foreman & Co for the Claimant; Foot Anstey for the Defendant; West Yorkshire Police for the Chief Constable of Humberside Police as an Interested Party