Judge gives BBC permission to interview father of boy in council care - Press Gazette

Judge gives BBC permission to interview father of boy in council care

High Court UK

A High Court judge has given journalists at a BBC regional television programme permission to conduct an exclusive interview with the father of a boy who has significant behavioural difficulties and is in council care.

Mr Justice Holman made an order allowing “representatives” of BBC Look East, which is based in Norwich, to “seek or obtain information” about the boy’s situation from his father.

He heard the application at a hearing in Family Division of the High Court in London.

BBC editors had been in dispute with social services bosses at Norfolk County Council, who have responsibility for the boy’s care, over what could be reported.

But lawyers from both sides told Mr Justice Holman yesterday that they had reached an agreement which would mean that the council could be identified and Look East journalists could speak to the boy’s father.

Mr Justice Holman subsequently made an order approving that agreement.

But he said judges treated journalists even-handedly and he said other media organisations which wished to interview the boy’s father could make an application.

Little detail about the boy emerged.

Council lawyers said he had significant behavioural difficulties. They said a placement in secure accommodation had been authorised but no place had been available because of a nationwide shortage.

A number of judges, including Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, have raised concern about the shortage of secure accommodation for children in England and Wales in recent years.

Mr Justice Holman told lawyers representing the BBC and Norfolk County Council that the shortage was “scandalous”.



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.