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Committal hearing

There’s a story today in the Mail about a woman being committed to prison and the paper not being allowed to give her name

It means the courts have returned to the practice of secret imprisonment that is thought to have ended in 2013 after the Mail revealed the case of Wanda Maddocks. Miss Maddocks was jailed for trying to remove her father from a care home where she thought his life was in danger, against a judge’s orders. The public were forbidden to know her name or any details of her case.

Lib Dem MP John Hemming said of the single mother ruling: ‘This is a coup against justice. Civilised countries do not bang people up in secret.’ As the row over her imprisonment grew, High Court officials announced that a new hearing in the case will be held today ‘where the judge will bring the attention of counsel to the mandatory aspect of the 2013 guidance’.

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and the MOJ have just published this judgment, which does actually name her.


I think that Pink Tape is going to do a detailed post about it. I can’t see anything in the judgment about the Judge considering making any order for anonymity or changing her mind on that, though that doesn’t mean that the Mail story is wrong.

There were journalists at that hearing, so one would hope that if they say that the Judge told them that they couldn’t print the woman’s name that they are reporting that accurately, in which case we could do with a judgment that reflects that there was a change of that decision and setting out why.


It is definitely the same case, as the reported facts are the same, save that there’s nothing in the judgment about reasons why one might consider not naming her.

What is unusual in this particular committal application (other than that) is that the care proceedings are not yet over and that the child seems to me to still be living with the mother – there were concerns that mother felt she might lose the final hearing and was planning to run away with her daughter to another country, so there was an order that she surrender up her passport, and it is the failure to comply with that order that led to the application.

This bit here, is what leads me to think that the child was still with mother

 It is the Local Authority’s case that whether or not I decide to remand the mother in custody for breach of this order, they will be making an immediate application for an interim care order

Although the mother has received a 7 day sentence, it is fairly clear that she would be released if she takes steps to provide the passports.

About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

3 responses

  1. Quick addition – there was a hearing today at which the Reporting Restriction Order was lifted. So we are missing two things (a) A judgment in which the Reporting Restriction Order saying the mother couldn’t be named was made and reasons for this and (b) A judgment in which the RRO was lifted and why.

    Hopefully these will both be available quickly.

    So the Mail and John Hemming MP were right, and also right to be troubled by this. Looking at the guidance with a fine-toothed comb, it is possible to hear a committal application in public and then make a Reporting Restriction Order or even to hear it in private in exceptional circumstances, but I haven’t heard of it happening since the 2013 guidance that committals were to be done in public. It would require some considerable justification (which is probably why the RRO has now been lifted)

  2. shows you the lady’s name ,but don’t say I told you !!

  3. That’s the case I’ve linked to. And this just deals with the committal application. But AFTER that, the Court made an order that her name was not to be published, and then the next day there was a further hearing and that order was discharged. So there are two important judgments that we have not seen.

    There are three possibilities :-

    (a) The Judge got it wrong and didn’t grasp fully the Practice Direction that the name should be made public, and then realised this at the next hearing
    (b) There were good reasons for making the restriction order, but those reasons were overcome by better reasons against it the following day

    (c) This was a cockup that only got remedied because the Press and John Hemming drew attention to it. I.e it was a reaction to the media’s ire.

    And in the absence of the judgments being published, any of those are possibilities.

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