A press agency journalist has successfully overturned a secrecy order preventing the naming of a former professional footballer who police say poses a serious risk to children.
David Graham, of Blackpool-based Watsons Press Agency, has been covering the case of 70-year-old Alan Burrows, who police applied to be given an interim then a full Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
The former Blackpool FC player was given the order last week at Blackpool Magistrates Court which prevents him having contact with children under 16.
He was allowed to be named following a ding-dong battle between David and Lancashire Police over the course of four court hearings.
At the first hearing, no applications were made for Burrows’ identity, age or address to be kept secret.
But at the second hearing, an application for secrecy under the Contempt of Court Act was made by Lancashire Police and Burrows’ defence team.
Magistrates rejected this following a plea in open court by David.
However, at the third hearing in front of a district judge, at which there were no press representatives present, a further secrecy application by police and the defence was allowed.
When David found out about the order, he made an official request for another hearing to take place before the court dealt with the SOPO application, so he could contest the anonymity ruling.
He argued that any application for secrecy should have been made at the start of all the proceedings and not part way through.
Despite the objections of police and the defence, David was successful in overturning the secrecy order so Burrows’ details could finally be reported.
He said: “It is becoming an increasing practice for the defence and police to apply for personal details to withheld by the media – usually when the media are not in court to fight.”