Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any legal concerns we suggest you consult a solicitor.

Vulnerable adult in court

(6 Posts)
CandyOcean Tue 27-Sep-16 09:00:02

If a vulnerable adult (in this case a man with autism) is in court, is there any way their address can be redacted so that the local dreadful unprincipled rag don't publish it?

This man currently lives independently with support but had to move from previous address as he was was being harassed, financially exploited, and on one occasion broken into and vandalised, by local youths. Safeguarding processes have been instigated and the police have been involved, but his current safety (and improving mental health) rely on the fact that his whereabouts is unknown to these youths.

He lives in a small town and the local rag is renowned for publishing stuff it could be more discreet with (think address of women's refuge, intimate gory details from coroner's reports etc)

The young man is in magistrates court on a drunk and disorderly charge.

Roomba Tue 27-Sep-16 09:15:13

Are you able to ring the court and ask to discuss this with someone? I imagine that magistrates are able to prevent publication of case details (as they do with children's information) but have no idea who has to request this or bring it to their attention - does he have a solicitor or support worker attending court with him? If so, I would think they would need to ask about this. But please don't take what I've said as any authority at all as I don't work in the court system!

CandyOcean Tue 27-Sep-16 09:28:25

@Roomba thanks, he will have a solicitor and support worker with him so contacting the solicitor sounds like a plan. I don't know if his vulnerability counts for anything in legal terms but having heard stories of irate estranged husbands turning up at the women's refuge after their wives' addresses have been published via magistrates hearings in the local paper there are valid concerns, I think.

JaniceBattersby Tue 27-Sep-16 20:46:53

I'm a reporter on a 'local rag' hmm

Firstly, the paper has the right and responsibility to publish details of all hearings in court to ensure the principle of open justic is upheld. It is a vitally-important tenet of our legal system and slagging off reporters for publishing details heard in open court (including coroners' court) is perhaps not the way to solicit good advice with regard to your problem.

As for your question, there is a mechanism by which your friend could seek an order banning his address from being published. He would need to seek a section 11 order (through his solicitor. I would not recommend him trying to do it himself). Note that if a press reporter is in court they are very likely to oppose the order.

Discretionary reporting restrictions are only imposed by the court in rare circumstances, based on clear and cogent evidence, and as a last resort. I've not seen many made, but it very much depends on which magistrates are sitting that day.

The guidelines (Reporting restrictions in the criminal courts 2014) state that an order should not be made for the comfort of a defendant, but only where there is an evidence-backed risk of serious injury or death from reporting the address (in this case) of the defendant.

These are the relevant paragraphs you need, but the whole document is online should you wish to read it. If I were your friend I would keep my fingers crossed there are no reporters in court to oppose the order.

"Consistent with the requirement to protect the open justice principle and freedom of expression, courts should only make an order under s.11 where the nature or circumstances of the proceedings are such that hearing all evidence in open court would frustrate or render impractical the administration of justice.62 It follows that a defendant in a criminal trial must be named save in rare circumstances.63 It is not appropriate therefore to invoke the s.11 power to withhold matters for the benefit of a defendant’s feelings or comfort64 or to prevent financial damage or damage to reputation resulting from proceedings concerning a person’s business.65 Nor can the power be invoked to prevent identification and embarrassment of the defendant’s children, because of the defendant’s public profile.66

Where the ground for seeking a s.11 order is that the identification of a witness or a defendant will expose that person to a real and immediate risk to his life engaging the state’s duty to protect life under Article 2 ECHR,67 the court will consider whether the fear is objectively well‐founded.68 In practical terms, the applicant will have to provide clear and cogent evidence to show that publication of his name will create or materially increase a risk of death or serious injury.69"

delboysfileofax Tue 27-Sep-16 20:52:06

Perhaps he shouldn't have been drunk and disorderly if he didn't want his address reported in court?

JaniceBattersby Tue 27-Sep-16 21:07:34

Yes delboysfilofax, thats exactly what the magistrate will say to him but I didn't want to pre-empt their decision grin

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now