BBC appeal lifts restriction on naming Local Authority

Posted on October 6th, 2010

A court appeal by the BBC has lifted restrictions on naming a local authority after a recent court case.

The case followed a previously unnamed local authority initiating child care proceedings regarding a family with 3 children.  Coventry City Council applied for care orders for the 3 children, who are now aged 12, 9 and 8 following allegations that the children had been subjected to unnecessary hospital admissions, tests and medical examinations by their parents.  The parents had allegedly lied and exaggerated the children’s symptoms to enable the tests to take place.

Coventry City Council dropped proceedings after re-evaluating its evidence and concluding that there was ‘no, or very little’ material that would satisfy the threshold criteria for the orders to be made.  During the case, the defence had run up legal aid bills of £400,000.  The council was ordered to pay £100,000 towards the costs after the judge described the case as one where, ‘something had gone badly wrong’.

After the judge’s decision had been published, an informal application was made by The Press Association to enquire as to the name of the local authority concerned.  The request was denied by the judge, who explained that a formal application would need to be made.

The Press Association decided against this due to the costs involved, so the application was taken up by the BBC.  The QC for the local authority argued that naming the council would lead to identification of the children involved – which was disregarded by the judge as a low risk.

The judge summarised that he was, ‘…not persuaded that this is a point of real substance.  In the event that the local authority agreed to participate in any broadcast of the court’s criticisms it would be unnecessary, in my judgement, for the local authority to descend to that level of detail in order to address the points.’

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One Response to “BBC appeal lifts restriction on naming Local Authority”

  1. Alison Stevens Says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I commend Judge Bellamy for allowing the LA to be named in this case.
    The Social Workers and Paediatrician who labeled the Mother with MSBP, a so
    called expert witness, who was not adequately qualified to diagnose
    such a disorder should also be named and shamed, he made such an
    assumption without ever seeing the parents or children involved.
    The family encountered some barbaric tactics at the hand of Social Workers,
    i cant mention what, due to the confidentiality clause.
    I wish them the best of luck for the future, and also thank Brendan Fleming
    Solicitors based in Birmingham, for their pure professionalism, in
    keeping this lovely family together.

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