Court upholds gag over convicted barrister - for now

The High Court has today ruled that it should be left to a full hearing to decide whether an order preventing the naming of a barrister who was convicted over charges connected with domestic harassment. While the court acknowleged that the barrister had been properly convicted it said that the original anonymity order granted under the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act - that provides that anonymity can be granted in cases where identifying the defendant could harm children involved or associated with them or the case - could be challenged by the media but would be subject to a full hearing and the media submitting a challenge to the existing anonymity order.

If the media - as is anticipated - challenge the gag, it would be on the basis that any potential harm to the children would be outweighed by the legitimate public interest in being allowed to know about the case and the media's corresponding right to report it. This was recently tested in a case where protection had been sought in respect of a father who had downloaded indecent images of children. The Court of Appeal decided to lift the ban in that case. It remains to be seen if the barrister's own barrister can distinguish that case and counter the argument that he should be named. Much of this may be down to facts as to what extent his children were involved or may be affected by the case and which can't be reported.

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