The Sun: broke baby scandal story
National newspaper groups are jointly considering a challenge to a blanket injunction on 71 newspapers and media outlets preventing them asking any questions or speaking to anyone involved in the IVF baby scandal.
The complete gagging order, made against The Sun, the paper which broke the story of black twins being born to a white couple after fertility treatment, was extended to cover the rest of the press, facing heavy fines if they break it.
The High Court granted a contra mundem (against the whole world) injunction on Monday without The Sun being present.
The paper’s legal manager, Tom Crone, said the orders were made all the time but were normally limited to anything exposing the identity of the people involved.
"This goes well beyond that – we can’t publish anything to do with the treatment, whether it leads to the identification or not. We can’t say this problem arose because of equipment failure or human error," said Crone.
The order forbids the media from publishing anything that leads dir-ectly or indirectly to the identification of the family or the NHS trust or the hospital where the babies were delivered . Nor can the media publish anything about the treatment given to the couple, or the history of the conception and the biological parentage.
Journalists cannot solicit any information relating to the children from the parents or any employee of the trust or any person concerned with or having knowledge of the fertility treatment to them.
Crone said: "It stops us saying where this happened and whether anyone has screwed up. It stops us ringing them and saying ‘what went wrong, how could this happen?’ It’s a pretty monumental gag really."
The Sun’s leader promised the newspaper would rail against the ruling with all its might. Alleging a cover-up, the newspaper said its reporters had been shackled from acting in the public interest. And it has categorically said it would not have named the children anyway.
The parents and twins can be named only as letters of the alphabet. The injunction was sought by the NHS trust and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
The parents have also retained two barristers and the Home Secretary has a representative acting on his behalf.
By Jean Morgan