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Paper gets 'pointless' ID ban lifted on witnesses named in open court

The Richmond and Twickenham Times has successfully persuaded a judge to lift “pointless” reporting restrictions on the names of three witnesses in a failed robbery and burglary case who had already been named in open court.

Reporters Chris Wickham and Natalie Fahy had been covering the case at Kingston Crown Court when the Crown Prosecution Service decided to impose a section 39 order and restrictions under section 46 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act in a bid to protect the witnesses – who were also the victims in the case.

The news team argued that both orders were unreasonable as the victims and the accused already knew each other and the names were already in the public domain.

Chris made some initial oral representations, and the following day Natalie submitted a letter to the court from Newsquest’s head of legal affairs Simon Westrop.

The judge then agreed to lift the restrictions.

Judge Shanie Barnes told the court: “I do not think I can turn the clock back. I don’t think I can give anonymity.

“I have to be very careful not to affect the movements of the press where it is not necessary.”

Natalie said the move to keep the victims’ names and addresses out of the paper had been “pointless”.

The paper had already run a front page story on the case, which had prompted a lot of interest in what was a quiet neighbourhood.

She said: “We wouldn’t have been able to say who the victims were, identify who was giving evidence or say where it happened.”