M v BBC

Reference: [1997] 1 FLR 51; [1997] 1 FCR 229

Court: Family Division

Judge: Hale J

Date of judgment: 25 Sep 1996

Summary:

Broadcasting - Private proceedings - Jurisdiction - Injunction - s.12(1)(a) Administration of Justice Act 1960

Appearances: Desmond Browne QC - Leading Counsel (Defendant) 

Instructing Solicitors: BBC Litigation Department for the Respondent

Facts

The BBC planned to broadcast a programme about the Child Support Agency, which included an interview with the Applicant’s former wife, during which she revealed his infertility. The Applicant sought an injunction to prevent publication of this or of any other information concerning his case against the Child Support Agency. He did not object to the identification of the children.

Issue

Whether the injunction should be granted.

Held

s.12(1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 defined the limits of what information could be published in relation to private proceedings. The jurisdiction could only be invoked in relation to publication of matters potentially harmful to the welfare of children. An adult could not claim its protection. In the circumstances, the public interest in freedom of speech prevailed and the injunction sought would not be granted.

Comment

The ambit of the inherent jurisdiction of the Court to protect children is wide, but it cannot be used to protect adults.