News & Comment
Media to be allowed into family courts
Up until now, divorce and custody battles have been held behind closed doors and the secrecy which has surrounded rulings affecting children have been heavily criticised. As from today, however, accredited reporters will now to attend – although in any reports they will not be allowed to name those involved.
The idea behind the change is to increase public confidence, according to Justice Secretary Jack Straw:
‘People need to trust the justice system. One important way is by creating a more open, transparent and accountable system while protecting children and families during a difficult and traumatic time in their lives.’
Courts will have the power to exclude journalists if it is felt to be in the interests of the child; for the safety or protection of a party, witness or person connected with a party or witness; for the orderly conduct of proceedings; or because justice would otherwise be impeded or prejudiced.
Media organisations along with campaigning groups have complained that the media’s role as the public’s eyes and ears would be completely subverted because the cases where there was most acute public concern — those involving taking children into care — will remain unreportable.