Reference:  EWHC 448 (Fam)
Court: High Court, Family Division
Judge: Mostyn J
Date of judgment: 1 Mar 2019
Summary: Reporting Restrictions – Contempt of Court Act 1981 – Anonymity
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Adam Wolanski KC (Applicant)
Gervase de Wilde (Interested Party)
Greg Callus (Respondent)
Instructing Solicitors: Sears Tooth for the Applicant. Stewarts for the Second Respondent. RPC for the Media.
Mostyn J had, in a previous judgment (RJ v Tigipko  EWHC 105 (Fam)) granted the application to permit identification of the mother and maternal grandfather, but not the father or children. The judgment made a number of damning findings about the mother and maternal grandfather’s role in the child abduction. The mother and maternal grandfather (the respondents) applied for redactions to be made to the judgment pending the determination of any criminal proceedings against them, so as not to prejudice a jury hearing for any future proceedings.
Should the judgment be redacted?
The judge rejected the application. The application could not be made under s.11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 since the redacted information had not been ‘withheld from the public.’ Whilst s.4(2) Contempt of Court Act 1981 did not strictly apply, the judge considered that the policy underpinning that provision should be equivalently applied where the court is in fact exercising its powers under the inherent jurisdiction. Section 4(2) imposed a statutory threshold that an order postponing publication on the grounds of prejudice could only be made where the criminal proceedings in question were ‘pending or imminent’. Here, there were no ‘pending or imminent’ proceedings – any trial of the mother or maternal grandfather was a remote and contingent prospect.
The scope of powers under s.11 and s.4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 is explored in this short judgment, and Mostyn J highlights the severe difficulties that arise with retrospective reporting restrictions.
The Court of Appeal rejected applications by the mother and maternal grandfather for permission to appeal.