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Notts magistrates in law update

Magistrates in Nottinghamshire are to receive revised guidance notes following the publication of the report on reporting restrictions.

At a meeting with newspaper and broadcast editors, the clerk to the justices, Graham Hooper, agreed the new report substantially superseded previous draft guidelines.

But he voiced concerns about the anonymity rights of individual children in court which he felt were “conspicuously overlooked”.

He said that Article 6(1) of the European Convention meant the interests of protecting very young children must be balanced with the pros and cons of “naming and shaming”.

The Article states: In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgement shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

Mr Hooper said: “When read alongside the remarks of the European Court of Human Rights in the Thompson and Venables case there is clearly an expectation that courts should take special note of the particular interests of children and the risk of naming and shaming very young offenders. We are yet to see how the English courts will approach this issue and the use of section 39 orders.”

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