Additional memorandum submitted by the Newspaper Society (CS 47)
The Newspaper Society and Society of Editors oppose the amendments to the family court reporting provisions of the Bill which have been tabled by Conservative Members. These are all unnecessary given the existing powers of the court, will do nothing to address the concerns expressed by the media in relation to the Bill, and indeed will further undermine the media's ability to report family court proceedings at all, which will fatally jeopardise the Government's aim of increasing transparency and accountability in relation to family court proceedings.
In particular -
· Amendment 323, Clause 34, new 6A is unnecessary since S.9 of the Contempt of Court Act l981 already prohibits unauthorised recording etc of court proceedings
· 6b: this will automatically prevent the reporting, even anonymised, of any evidence given by a child. Medical information is already the subject of Schedule 2, and in any case the court already has power to prevent the publication of ANY particular evidence, (or indeed to exclude the media from court altogether for all/part of particular proceedings).
· Amendment 333, revised Clause 41 (line 42 onwards) this would prevent court reports from even stating the occupation of witnesses (e.g. paediatrician/child psychiatrist) , in every case, regardless of whether or not to do so would identify any member of the family concerned or the particular witness themselves.
Other factors listed in the amendment are unnecessary (because they are obvious e.g. photograph/name) and/or inappropriate (because what could identify a party in one case might not in others (e.g. occupation; business or other relationships - this provision in particular is so wide that its meaning and intent is uncertain)