An alleged child sex offender has been named thanks to a court challenge by a local reporter.
Tanya Fowles has successfully challenged an anonymity order protecting Ryan Thomas Patrick Irvine, who is accused of making and distributing indecent images of children, as well as possessing drugs with intent to supply.
Tanya works in Northern Ireland as a BBC local democracy reporter, but also covers court on a freelance basis.
Irvine, 38, first appeared before Coleraine magistrates two weeks ago where the judge agreed to a defence application to ban all details on his identification, ordering he be referred to only as ‘TP’.
The reason given for granting the order was the protection of Irvine’s Human Rights Convention Article Two – Right to life, which is usually applied if the accused person is under threat, and this has been verified by police in court.
But enquiries by Tanya through the Office of the Lord Chief Justice revealed the order was instead made “so that it could be checked if naming the defendant would potentially identify the victims in the case”.
Tanya’s challenge on behalf of the press questioned why the defence would contend this impacted on Irvine’s Right to Life, and why the Public Prosecution Service was not making the application if there was an issue around victim identification.
The order has now been discharged in full.
Tanya said she wanted to “make other journalists aware this kind of behaviour is happening, and should not go unnoticed”.
She told HTFP: “I am by now very much accustomed to attempts to have identities banned from publication, particularly in alleged sexual offending, and for a while was submitting challenges on an almost weekly basis.
“As a result of so many such challenges the Lord Chief Justice instigated a review last year, which ended with the re-publication of guidance for Judiciary who were also required to undergo retaining.
“I was consulted on this, chiefly as I fight these orders without engaging lawyers as it was happening so often. I’m sure that has made me unpopular amongst the ranks of some judges, but there you go.
“Usually, applications have some form of contended basis within law, but the case took on a whole new angle, and exposed major errors and false assertions.”