Paper wins right to name dog attack girl

The Basingstoke Gazette has successfully persuaded a crown court judge to lift a restriction banning the identification of an eight-year-old who had been attacked by a dog.

Dana Breslin was left with scarring to her ear and arms after a Staffordshire bull terrier mauled her near a town playground in June.

But the newspaper was banned from identifying the youngster after a Section 39 order was slapped on the court case, held in Winchester Crown Court on 12 October.

Yet at a previous court appearance in September, the victim’s name had been reported in the newspaper.

A letter from Simon Westrop, Newsquest’s head of legal affairs, was faxed to the court, arguing that placing a Section 39 order on a case just because of a child’s age was not a good enough reason.

He said that naming the child would not cause embarrassment or reflect on her character in any way.

Westrop also said that the victim and her family wanted to talk to the Gazette and had posed for pictures.

Court reporter Paul Edwards then spoke to the judge in chambers and in open court. The Section 39 order was finally lifted on 14 October, just hours before the Gazette went to press.

Judge Andrew Barnett had asked for the paper to produce a letter signed by the family informing him they were willing for the order to be taken off proceedings.

Gazette Newspapers editor Mark Jones said: “I am pleased that the representations made by Paul, with the valuable assistance provided by Simon, paid off in persuading the judge to lift the naming restriction. It meant the paper could run an exclusive picture and interview on the front page of the Gazette.”

By Jean Morgan

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