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Trainee overturns gagging order in baby cruelty case

A trainee journalist on a weekly newspaper has managed to overturn a court order which had prevented her from naming parents convicted of baby cruelty charges.

Surrey Advertiser reporter Stephanie Jones-Berry challenged the Section 39 Order which covered a baby girl who suffered permanent brain damage at five-weeks-old at the hands of her parents.

Although the mother had pleaded guilty to child cruelty, the father pleaded not guilty to a charge of child cruelty by not seeking medical help for his daughter. He was convicted of the charge.

Reporting throughout the father’s trial was hampered by the order, which meant the parents could not be named for fear of identifying the baby.

However the order was overturned at the couple’s sentencing after Stephanie argued in a letter to the judge that the child was too young to be affected by adverse publicity. It was her first challenge to a court order.

She also argued that the naming the parents was in the in the public interest and the interests of open justice.

Advertiser news editor Tony Green said: “Surrey Ad trainees quickly become seasoned court reporters. It is an important part of a comprehensive training.

“Nonetheless Steph’s success with her first court order challenge is commendable.”