A weekly newspaper journalist successfully challenged a court clerk’s attempt to prevent the naming of a baby girl allegedly killed by her father.
Brighton Magistrates Court clerk Sandra Cryan initially imposed a Section 39 order in the case of Mark Sandland, 27, who is charged with killing his daughter Aimee Rose in November 2012.
But Sol Buckner, assistant content editor at the Hastings Observer Series, immediately challenged the move and later spoke to the clerk during a break in proceedings, along with TV journalists Colin Campbell of BBC South East Today and Malcolm Shaw of Meridian News.
After Sol was allowed to address the packed courtroom, the clerk told the bench that the S39 order could not be issued.
Before speaking against the order, Sol found the relevant guidance and asked head of news Dave King to email as much case law as possible.
The three journalists also asked the clerk to search online for the Children and Young Persons Act of 1933, which states at section 4.1 (1) (b): ‘Orders cannot be made in respect of dead children.’
Said Sol: “In almost 20 years of being in the industry I had never come across something like this.
“I was adamant that the bench should understand that the court clerk had no power to issue a Section 39 order on a dead child. I hastily drafted some notes and case law which Dave King had emailed and was prepared for a long argument.
“I had made several challenges in various magistrates court against Section 39 orders but never one for a dead child, which had the alarm bells ringing immediately.
“I had the support of my fellow journalists present and it was a team effort. The problem was I had no idea how much time I had to prepare my argument which is always difficult. I had about 30 minutes in the end to organise myself and steady the nerves.
“However I was only allowed to speak for a couple of minutes before the clerk said no order could be issued and there was no need for me to carry on.
“It is incredibly frustrating for the media when faced with situations like this. I understand the clerk may not deal with many cases like this in her career but one expects common sense to prevail in situations like this. We were all on deadline so it held everyone up for at least 90 minutes not to mention the morning’s court proceedings.”