Full case report

R v Swansea Crown Court, ex parte BBC

Reference T20077088
Court Swansea Crown Court

Judge HHJ Diehl QC

Date of Judgment 22 Jan 2008


Summary

Reporting restrictions – s.39, Children and Young Persons Act 1933 – Criminal offence – Order to prohibit publication of particulars identifying child as defendant – Application to lift restrictions – Whether any good reason for restrictions


Facts

The BBC filmed a documentary series about Barnardo’s work with young people entitled ‘Somebody’s Child’. One episode featured a 17 year-old girl, S, who had been filmed over a period of 7 months. Towards the end of the filming, S was arrested for robbery. The BBC filmed S talking about the potential consequences of the offence. During the criminal proceedings, an order was made under s.39 CYPA 1933, prohibiting the publication of particulars identifying S as the defendant. S was convicted and imprisoned. Upon release from prison S, who was still 17, wished the programme to be shown in full, including the parts of it that identified her as the defendant in the criminal proceedings. The BBC applied for the s.39 order to be lifted.


Issue

Whether the restrictions on publication imposed under s.39 CYPA should be lifted.


Held

Applying dicta of Simon Brown LJ in R v Winchester Crown Court, Ex parte B (A Minor) [1999] 1 WLR 788, there was no good reason to maintain the restrictions. Accordingly the restrictions were lifted and the programme could be broadcast.


Comment

Orders to restrict reporting under s.39 of the Children and Young Persons Act are often made without the media being aware and without full argument, as was the case here. When challenged it can often be shown that there was, or is no longer, any good reason for such restrictions. Here the BBC’s case was significantly strengthened by the support of the child’s mother, and of Barnardo’s.


Instructing Solicitors

BBC for the Applicant