Wednesday 2 March 2011

Why secrecy was lifted in the Court of Protection

The Independent reports the reasons given by a High Court judge for ruling that media organisations can attend hearings in a case involving a father's struggle to care for his autistic son at the Court of Protection, which rules on vulnerable people who are unable to take their own decisions and are mostly heard in private.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson, who also agreed the parties in the proceedings can be identified, said his conclusion concerning reporting of the case of 20-year-old Steven Neary was "not intended to set a precedent".

He said: "Steven's circumstances are already in the public domain to a considerable extent. If the claims made by Mr Neary and the Official Solicitor are made out [win the verdict], the facts deserve to be known to the public. If they are not made out, it may be right for the record to be corrected."

He said he would "unhesitatingly exclude the media if the evidence showed a real possibility of detriment or distress to Steven of anything other than a trivial nature. However, I do not find the evidence for such detriment.

"There is no evidence whatever that Steven has suffered from the publicity that has already been generated. His life has not been destabilised and he has not been made anxious by the coverage so far."

  • HoldtheFrontPage reports that Mark Neary, Steven's father, has praised his local paper, the Uxbridge Gazette, and says he will be 'forever grateful' for its part in helping to bring his severely autistic son home. The weekly paper ran an exclusive story last July about Neary's fight to take his son out of local authority care.

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