Full case report

Re Baby RB (Press Injunction)

Reference [2011] EWHC 221 (Fam)
Court High Court (Family Division)

Judge Macfarlane J

Date of Judgment 16 Feb 2011


Summary

Family proceedings – Reporting restrictions – Article 8 – Article 10


Facts

In 2009 proceedings took place concerning the question of whether Baby RB’s life support should be withdrawn. Baby RB’s father initially opposed the withdrawal of life support, but a week into the trial he decided that the withdrawal of life support was justified. A reporting restriction was imposed preventing the publication of information which identified Baby RB, the parents or the treating Hospital Trust. Baby RB then died. The BBC applied to vary the injunction allowing it to broadcast an interview with Baby RB’s mother in which both she and Baby RB were identified by name. Baby RB’s mother supported the application, but Baby RB’s father opposed it.


Issue

Whether the injunction should be varied so as to permit the identification of Baby RB and his mother


Held

Allowing the application:

(1) Following X Council v B [2008] EWHC 270 (Fam), the wisdom or otherwise of the mother’s wish to be identified was an irrelevant factor. The deceased child had no rights under Article 8. The issue for the court was whether or not the relaxation of the injunction in the manner sought by the BBC was a necessary and proportionate step, notwithstanding the impact that it may have on the father’s Article 8 right to private life.

(2) Applying Guardian News and Media Ltd & Ors in HM Treasury v Ahmed & Ors, naming the mother and baby was justified as adding to the journalistic value of any subsequent interview with the mother.

(3) Whilst the interview with the mother would distress the father, it would not identify him. The interference with his Article 8 rights was proportionate, particularly given the extent to which there was already material about the case legitimately in the public domain.


Comment

Identification of the mother was permitted notwithstanding the court’s recognition of the fact that this would infringe the father’s rights under Article 8.


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Instructing Solicitors

Miss L Grace of the BBC Litigation Department for the BBC; RB's father in person; Weightmans for the NHS Trust