A court’s decision to impose a Section 39 order on a neglect case involving a baby and toddler, who were abandoned by their drunk mother, has been criticised by a weekly’s editor.
Magistrates on the Isle of Wight bench had imposed the order at an earlier hearing fearing “online” publicity would be in the ether for ever, despite the County Press’s usual policy of not publishing court cases on its website.
The court heard the unnamed mother had left the children on their own in a cold, damp flat that smelled of urine for five hours while she had gone out drinking with her partner.
She later ended up attacking a woman in the street.
The woman pleaded guilty to neglect, assault by beating and criminal damage.
She was given a 12-month suspended sentence.
Reporter Matthew McKew sought permission to challenge the order at the full hearing, but was put off by the clerk who said there were no new facts, in her opinion, to make magistrates change their mind.
Alan had sent a letter to the presiding JP but received no response.
In a comment piece accompanying the court story, Alan wrote: “In this case, the (County Press) opposed the order, as we felt the children concerned, one and two years old, were too young to be affected by the publicity.
“Furthermore, we felt it was in the public interest their mother was named for these serious offences.
“There is legal guidance, which states very young children cannot be harmed by publicity of which they are unaware.
“However, the IW bench was not to be swayed by our pleas, so the CP cannot publish the name of the mother in a case where the presiding magistrate herself spoke of its seriousness.
“Hardly a good advert for open justice.”
He also told HTFP: “There is proven case law that children of this young age cannot be damaged by publicity in the press.
“It is worrying that magistrates readily, and I would say incorrectly, slap a Section 39 order on this case.”