Sunday, 18 October 2009

Judge condemns Jack Straw's 'haste' on media access to family courts

The most senior family judge in England and Wales urged ministers not to rush ahead with controversial plans to allow greater media access to family court hearings.
Sir Mark Potter, President of the High Court Family Division, said that he was concerned about the haste involved with the latest plans from Jack Straw and warned that they may lead judges to exclude the press altogether.
Despite concerns already expressed by judges, lawyers and others over the plans, Mr Straw, the Justice Secretary, plans to include the changes in the Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill in the new session of Parliament.
The Justice Secretary has said that opening up family hearings in April to the media was being undermined by reporting restrictions.
He intends to allow the media acccess to confidential medical and social work reports, subject to anonymity provisions, in a move that would allow the media to name and shame social workers.
But Sir Mark told a conference of family lawyers this week that even interim rules, pending the legislation, should not be rushed.

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