C (A Child)

Reference: [2016] EWCA Civ 798

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: Master of the Rolls, Macfarlane LJ, & Burnett LJ

Date of judgment: 29 Jul 2016

Summary: The publication of a judgment in care proceedings relating to Child C should not be delayed in order to protect any potential appeal by C's father against his conviction for the murder of C's elder sibling.

Appearances: Jacob Dean (Respondent) 

Instructing Solicitors: London Borough of Sutton


In June 2014 Eleanor King J gave judgment in relation to care proceedings involving Ellie Butler and her younger sibling “C”. Publication of that judgment was restrained pending the trial of Ben Butler on charges of Ellie’s murder. Butler was convicted, but intimated an intention to appeal. Several media organisations applied to lift the reporting restriction. Pauffley J refused the application because of the risk of prejudicing any potential appeal by Butler.


Should the judgment of King J remain subject to a reporting restriction pending any appeal by Butler.


Restrictions on the publication of the King J judgment should be lifted, because the risk of prejudice to any potential retrial was so small that it should be given little or no weight when balanced against the important public interest in scrutinising the work of the Family Court. The judgment should be subject to redactions to protect the interests of C.


The judgment emphasises the importance of open justice in the Family Court, when that can be achieved consistently with the protection of the interests of surviving children.