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Mother can be identified after court lifts anonymity order on child

The Newbury Weekly News has persuaded a district judge to lift the S39 court order on a three-year-old girl whose mother was accused of cruelty.

The paper had argued that the effect of the order was that the child’s mother could not be identified in reports of the case, and that in any case, the child was too young to be affected by any publicity.

The anonymity order, under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, was made during a hearing where the toddler’s mother was accused of having left methadone in a fruit juice bottle, resulting in hospital treatement for the child.

Newbury Weekly News Group editorial director Brien Beharrell told Media Lawyer: “We felt that the order had been made inappropriately and were seeking an explanation from the magistrates who had first applied it in response to an application from the adult defendant’s solicitor.

“To name the child was not our priority. However we did wish to name the defendant in order to be able to write a fair and accurate report for our readers.

“We feel that the ability to write a fair and accurate report of court proceedings, including names where the law allows, is fundamental to local newspapers.”

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