A regional newspaper has successfully overturned a series of court orders to name and shame parents of children who skive off school.
Exeter Express and Echo crime reporter Eleanor Gregson challenged magistrates at Exeter Magistrates’ Court who had imposed a Section 39 order so that neither the parents or children could be named in newspaper reports as it would identify the child.
Eleanor had attended the court on an afternoon when nine parents were due to appear accused of failing to make their children attend school.
She successfully persuaded magistrates to lift the reporting restrictions after arguing that it was in the interest of open justice and would act as a deterrent to other parents whose children do not properly attend school.
Among the cases was that of a 15-year-old girl who skipped lessons over a four-month-period, even though she was on school grounds.
Deputy news editor Richard Birch said he and Eleanor prepared the argument to name the parents and pupils citing a case from 2000 as precedent.
Said Richard: “We see a number of these cases pass through the courts and it proves all but impossible to cover them when magistrates impose orders which effectively give blanket anonymity to all concerned.
“Our challenge was based on the principle that there is no deterrent if no-one can be identified and, equally, it gives those involved in the proceedings a better opportunity to have their say.”