View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
October 6, 2015updated 09 Oct 2015 3:11pm

Judge praises Press Association reporter for ‘responsible journalism of a very high order’ after raising anonymity concerns

By PA Media Lawyer

A High Court judge praised Press Association journalist Brian Farmer for "responsible journalism of a very high order" after he raised issues connected with anonymity in judgments and publications bans.

Farmer pointed out to Mr Justice MacDonald that an anonymised judgment he had published, in a case in which he ordered that a man could no longer exercise parental responsibility in respect of his children, or even see their school reports, contained enough information to allow the family involved to be identified.

The man, currently serving a life sentence after having been convicted of offences against his family and others, was said to have demonstrated a "persistent desire" to harm his former partner.

The criminal proceedings against the man were widely reported at the time, and coverage was available on the internet.

Farmer had raised two concerns – the risk that information in a judgment might lead to the individuals involved in the Family Division proceedings being identified and their whereabouts discovered, and the danger that restrictions on reporting the judgment itself could also restrict the media's ability to refer in future to matters which were already in the public, such as earlier coverage of the father's criminal trial.

As a result of Farmer's concerns the judge produced a second decision in which he explained why he was keeping the first judgment in its original form, and also commented on the need for judges carefully to consider the wording of the rubric they put at the top of such decisions making clear what may or may not be published, particularly in cases in which there have also been criminal proceedings.

Farmer, he said, had contacted his clerk to alert him to his concerns.

Content from our partners
Five ways to fail in media job interviews
How Germany's Ippen.Media mastered content planning across 86 newsrooms
Free journalism awards for journalists under 30: Deadline today

He added that he agreed with a comment by John Tughan QC, who represented the mother and argued, unsuccessfully, that only a redacted version of the original judgment should be published, that the steps Farmer had taken to alert the court to his concerns "constituted responsible journalism of a very high order".

Topics in this article : ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network