A (A Local Authority) v PD & Another
Reference:  EWHC 1832 (Fam);  EMLR 840
Court: Family Division
Judge: Sir Mark Potter P
Date of judgment: 10 Aug 2005
Summary: Privacy – Criminal Trial - Injunction to restrain identification of defendant and victim - Children - Non-parties - Privacy - Article 8 - Freedom of expression - Article 10
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Adam Wolanski QC (Applicant)
Instructing Solicitors: Solicitor for Times Newspapers Ltd for the media applicants
PD was charged with murdering his wife at home and placing her body parts in a fridge. On 20 May 2005, before the criminal trial started, an order was made in Children Act proceedings relating to PD’s daughter which on its face prevented the media from identifying PD in reports of the criminal trial. Shortly after the criminal trial started, the matter was referred to the President for interpretation of the 20 May order. The Local Authority applied for an order that, in the event the 20 May order did not in fact prevent the media from identifying PD, the media should in any event be restrained from identifying PD.
(1) Whether the 20 May order restrained the media from identifying PD in reports of the criminal trial; (2) whether an injunction should be granted restraining the media from identifying PD in reports of the criminal trial.
(1) The 20 May order did not restrain the media from identifying PD in reports of the criminal trial. While it prohibited publication of PD’s identity, it contained an express exemption for the purposes of reporting the trial. Further, the judge who made the order had neither been referred to Re S nor to the Practice Direction relating to applications affecting the media. (2) No injunction should be granted against the media. Considering the Article 8 rights of PD’s child, and the Article 10 rights of the media, the evidence did not reveal circumstances of such an exceptional or compelling nature as would justify an injunction. The approach of the Local Authority – that no damage had been caused to the public interest by the fact that press reports of the trial had so far not identified PD – was erroneous.
A decision which, unlike Re W, provides encouragement for the press. Emphasis was placed on the difficulties faced by applicants for injunctions in such cases even where, as in this case, the background facts were unusual and sensational. The Local Authority was ordered to pay the costs of the media applicants.