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Agency boss halts barrister's bid for anonymity

A freelance agency boss successfully halted a bid by Crown Prosecution Service counsel to have the name of a barrister who was the victim in an assault case kept secret.

The barrister – Paul Bryning from Manchester – was the complainant in a case in which one of his clients was accused of assaulting him in a conference room at Manchester’s Combined Court Centre.

The case was moved to Blackpool from the city because Mr Bryning is well known there.

At the start of proceedings the prosecution handed the district judge a six-page application asking for Mr Bryning’s name to be the subject of a reporting restriction under Section 46 of the Criminal Evidence Act.

The CPS argued that the quality of his evidence would improve if the restriction was imposed and that allegations which could be made during the course of the trial by defendant Gary Sunbeam could damage Mr Bryning’s career.

David Graham, head of Lancashire-based freelance agency Watsons, was in court and had a matter of minutes to prepare an objection to the application.

He argued that no other complainants at court that day would be given the privilege of having their name kept secret and that other personnel such as police officers were often the subject of incorrect allegations during the course of trials without being given anonymity.

The judge upheld his application. Sunbeam was later found guilty and fined.