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Dangerous driver was not protected by family court order, IPSO finds

NewIPSOA dangerous driver’s mum tried to use past family court reporting restrictions to stop a weekly newspaper’s coverage of her son’s case.

Karen Nassiri claimed the Falmouth Packet had no right to reveal the street on which she lived when it covered her 24-year-old son’s conviction for dangerous driving.

Ms Nassiri cited a court order from the family division of the High Court in 2010, which noted her address could not be disclosed to a further named party “until further order”, in making her claim.

However, an investigation by the Independent Press Standards Organisation concluded the order did not protect the dangerous driver.

Ms Nassiri claimed the Packet had breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in its story about her son’s conviction in March this year.

She said she and her children had an expectation of privacy over their street level address as there was a court order in place, which she said prevented the publication of the address in question.

The man who was the subject of the Packet’s was not named in the order, which related to Ms Nassiri’s two younger children.

Ms Nassiri told IPSO that the judge had stated the address should not have been published and noted that there were 22 houses on her street, meaning it would be easy to identify their home.

She added the Packet’s story had been circulated on social media and that her other children, who were both under 16 years old, had been asked about their brother because they shared the same address.

Denying any breach of Code, the Packet said there had been no reference to any court order on either the magistrates’ court listing in January, which had listed Ms Nassiri’s address, and that it had not been referenced at the time of sentencing in the Crown Court.

Once they had been contacted by Ms Nassiri, a Packet reporter had phoned the court’s clerk, who had initially been unaware of the order, but had then recontacted the newspaper 30 minutes later to say she found a family court order from 2010.

While the paper did not consider that the inclusion of the address amounted to an intrusion into her privacy, it said that it had deleted the address from its website as an act of goodwill.

The Packet further noted that – as the court order came from the family division of the court – it would not apply to anyone aged over 18, such as Ms Nassiri’s older son and said that as the order had not been served at the criminal court, or to the newspaper, no restriction on reporting the man’s name had ever been in place.

The paper also provided a letter from the court saying that Ms Nassiri had raised the 2010 family court order at the court and, while the judge had said the address should not be published, no formal court order was made in relation to the criminal proceedings against the complainant’s eldest son.

IPSO found the family court order did not refer to Ms Nassiri’s older son and the court had not made a formal order restricting the publication of his address in relation to the court proceedings reported on in the article.

Therefore, the Packet was justified in publishing the name of the street because, in accordance with the principle of open justice, newspapers are generally entitled to report information that has been disclosed in court documents and is not subject to a reporting restriction.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.