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Dog attack child identified as paper wins court re-think

The Basingstoke Gazette has successfully persuaded a crown court judge to lift a restriction banning the identification of an eight-year-old who had been attacked by a dog.

Dana Breslin, from Oakridge, Basingstoke, was left with scarring to her ear and arms after a Staffordshire Bull Terrier mauled her near a town playground in June.

But the newspaper was banned from identifying the youngster after a Section 39 order was slapped on the court case at Winchester Crown Court.

A previous court appearance and the victim’s name had earlier been reported in the newspaper. No Section 39 order had been made at the original appearance.

But after taking advice from Newsquest head of legal affairs Simon Westrop, the paper approached the court and asked if a representation could be made to the judge.

A letter was faxed to the court in which he argued that placing a Section 39 order on a case just because of a child’s age was not a good enough reason. He said that naming the child would not cause embarrassment or reflect on her character in any way.

Simon also submitted the fact that victim and her family wanted to talk to The Gazette and had also posed for pictures.

Court reporter Paul Edwards was called upon to speak to the judge in chambers and then in open court.

The Section 39 order was finally lifted hours before The Gazette went to press – meaning the paper could identify the victim and use her picture.

Judge Andrew Barnett had asked for the paper to produce a letter signed by the family informing him they were willing for the order to be taken off proceedings.

Gazette Newspapers editor Mark Jones said: “I am pleased that the representations made by Paul, with the valuable assistance provided by Simon, paid off in persuading the judge to lift the naming restriction and meant the paper could run an exclusive picture and interview on the front page of The Gazette.”

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