So in my last post I negated to insert a link to the consultation which you can find here: goo.gl/VGY8X7
Now as time is approaching to meet with Sir James Munby next Thursday, President of the Family Court Division and I think a few questions need to be answered about what undoubtedly will be a breach of a child or young persons Article 8 (ECHR) and Article 16 (UNCRC) rights; that being the right to privacy.
Before we get to that can we in fact trust the press with access to such delicate and intimate details of people family lives? We already know the travesty which amounted from Mirror Group’s (Trinity Mirror’s) actions including the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone which was a disgrace, and seemingly wide spread practice, within the organisation at least. I am not trying to blanket term anyone but I have found that many people are unaware of how to properly use their security settings on social media which could lead to some journalist publishing something which was not intended for public audience, or which may put a certain spin on their story or lead to the identification, or be it wrongful, or a child or young person who is or has been involved in family court proceedings.
The rights of the press to report on issues has always been a contentious matter, and in fact I think it is only right that we bring up the following quote
“They are bound to be harmed by immediate publicity, both because it would undermine the family as a whole and because the playground is a cruel place where bullies feed on personal discomfort and embarrassment.”
LJ Ward in ETK v News Group Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 439
Now this case is referring to the right of an injunction for an individual who had committed an infidelity whilst married with children. In my mind it seems pretty clear that this would also refer to any family court proceedings as such proceedings would already put the family under great strain and undermine what is thought of as a normal family by social norms. Unnecessary stress is not needed at what is potentially the most stressful time in a child or young persons life, nor is the publication of their most intimate details, as is said above the playground can be a cruel place, but so too can be places of work or the extended family itself.
Now that you have the idea of the lack of respect from the printed media consider this, what good is a fine or imprisonment to a child who has been socially scared and may be prejudiced against because of something they had little or no control over? Sure it is a nice little deterrent but it is of no comfort when the damage is already done and irreversible.
In 2010 the Government promised to consult further and directly with young people before moving forward on this issue; to my knowledge this has not happened and the outraged views of children and young people have thus far been ignored. If the whole idea of greater access is to make the courts more transparent surely the further use of information leaflets, case studies, books, on-line guidance for general audiences, and family court open days used or expanded rather than tearing at the vulnerable to fill a few tabloids and not really educate the masses.
Now these are just a few quick thoughts resulting from a lecture, and I still have to meet with Sir James Munby and attend the Association of Lawyers for Children Conference so keep your eyes peeled for more information.