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Anonymity for victim of child sexual abuse/exploitation


The High Court considered an application to extend a Reporting Restriction Order on a 17 year old, AB, which would expire when she became 18 to be throughout her life.


Birmingham City Council and Riaz 2015

AB was the victim in a high-profile case of child sexual exploitation – you may remember it as the one where Keehan J, in the High Court, made an order that the adult males suspected of having abused AB would be (a) subject to orders preventing them from being around children and (b) named and shamed, so that the press were able to report their names and print photographs alongside a story that they were men who had targeted and groomed children for sexual purposes.


Remember that in that case, there had been no criminal trial and was never likely to be, and that the men had not gone through a process of contesting the allegations and having the Judge decide whether they were true.  Just that on the civil standard of proof the evidence was such that an order preventing them from harming other children was appropriate.

The Local Authority, Birmingham applied to extend the Reporting Restriction Order on AB for her whole life. They argued that AB was a victim, that any story about the case could be told without her name, that she had been a child and deserved protection not press exposure and no doubt that if the result for AB of having told her story and made her allegations was that she was made notorious and everyone who met her would know for the rest of her life what happened to her, that would deter other victims.

The Press were not arguing that they wanted to name her, but were concerned about a precedent emerging.

When looking at the case, Keehan J identified that as a result of s78 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, Criminal Courts had the power to make orders saying that the name of a victim or a witness could be subject to an order that it not be reported.  There is also an authority of the Court of Appeal JXMX v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2015] EWCA Civ 96 that permits such orders being made to preserve the anonymity of children who receive financial settlements.  Again, that makes perfect sense – if you receive compensation for something terrible in your childhood, why should everyone that you meet in your life get to know all the personal details?


With this sort of case, it is more tricky.

As was put to Keehan J, an order preserving the anonymity and identity of an adult [other than as the result of Court of Protection or care proceedings/adoption] has happened in three cases in English legal history.

The cases are all pretty notorious – Mary Bell, Thompson and Venables, and Maxine Carr.  It is no small thing to add a name to that list.

On the pro side of things, I’d probably argue that those were all people who did something wrong (and where a child died as a result – Maxine Carr having the lowest culpability), whereas  AB was a victim. Why on earth should a victim get less protection than a person who was responsible to some degree for the murder of a child?

On the con side, the three cases above involved a CHANGE of identity.  The press and public knew who Mary Bell and the others were, and indeed photographs were available. The press can publish those photographs even now. The public wasn’t being told that they couldn’t know that Mary Bell had killed a child, they just couldn’t know her new identity.


I’m struggling to be balanced here, since for me the case for AB to have anonymity for life is overwhelming, but I can see that it is establishing a precedent  (and just with the inherent jurisdiction cases, there’s a later danger that such a precedent in a deserving and solid case can be later used to advance the jurisdiction further and further away)

Mr Dodd, for the Press Association  (given a tricky brief) did pretty well with it

  1. Mr Dodd submits that the court should proceed cautiously before filling in a lacuna left by Parliament. He referred me to paragraph 20 of the opinion of Lord Steyn in the case of Re S(FC) (A Child) [2004] UKHL 47 where he said:

    “20. There are numerous automatic statutory reporting restrictions, e.g. in favour of victims of sexual offences: see, for example, section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. There are also numerous statutory provisions, which provide for discretionary reporting restrictions: see, for example, section 8(4) of the Official Secrets Act 1920. Given the number of statutory exceptions, it needs to be said clearly and unambiguously that the court has no power to create by a process of analogy, except in the most compelling circumstances, further exceptions to the general principle of open justice.”

  2. Of particular note is the caveat entered by Lord Steyn to the courts creating further exceptions to the general principle of open justice “except in the most compelling of circumstances”. 



Keehan J considers matters in a very thorough manner and it is an exemplary judgment  (whilst I think that some of the analysis in the initial Riaz case is not as rigorous as I would have hoped, given the serious nature of what was being done there and the likelihood that the approach would be used in other later cases, I can’t fault this judgment)


  1. Discussion
  2. I entirely accept the high importance accorded to the general principle of open justice. It was because of the considerable public interest in the issue of CSE that I directed the matter to be heard in open court in October 2014 and thereafter.
  3. The mere fact that there are only three reported cases of lifelong anonymity being granted in civil/family proceedings, should not deter me from undertaking my primary task which is to undertake a rigorous analysis of the competing Article 8 rights of AB and the Article 10 rights of the press and broadcast media.
  4. It is plainly in the public interest that the press and broadcast media are able to report proceedings concerning cases of CSE. The public have a right to know how local authorities, child protection services, the police and the courts approach and deal with such cases. It was for that reason that I gave a judgment in public last December and ordered that each of the respondents should be identified.
  5. What, however, is in the public interest in identifying AB as a victim of CSE? I confess I can see no such interest at all.
  6. AB is entitled to respect for her private life. What could be more private and personal than the fact that she has been the victim of CSE? I am satisfied that the fact she has been the victim of CSE is entirely a private and personal matter for AB. If, once she has attained her majority or thereafter, she wishes to make it known that she is a victim of CSE, that must be a matter for her and her alone.
  7. I accept the Press Association and the Times do not wish to identify AB, but their approach does not bind and may not reflect the approach of other members of the press or broadcast media or those who use social media sites.
  8. I take account and accord considerable weight to the serious adverse consequences for AB if she were to be identified as a victim of CSE in the press, broadcast media or on social media sites. I accept the opinions and conclusions of the social worker and the psychologist. AB remains a very vulnerable young woman. In my judgment adverse publicity about her as a victim of CSE is likely to have a serious deleterious effect on her emotional and psychological well being.
  9. I have earnestly reflected on this difficult issue of whether I should grant a RRO to afford AB lifelong anonymity. I have taken account of the high priority accorded by Parliament and the courts to the protection of victims and especially to young people.
  10. I have carefully balanced the competing Article 8 and Article 10 rights. On the basis that I find no public interest in identifying AB as a victim of CSE and I find that there are compelling reasons why AB’s history of being a victim of CSE should remain confidential and private to her, I am completely satisfied that the balance falls decisively in favour of granting the lifelong RRO sought by the local authority.
    1. I further consider that there is a high public interest in supporting the victims of CSE to come forward and report their abuse to the authorities and to co-operate with them. Whilst the issue of lifelong RROs in possible future CSE injunction cases will have to be determined on their own merits, there is a very real risk, in my judgment, that my refusal to grant a RRO in this case, might deter other young victims of CSE from coming forward to the authorities. In principle I propose to make a RRO in favour of AB for her lifetime.





child abduction and child abuse

The case of Neustadt v Neustadt (child abduction) 2014 is an interesting and desperately sad one


The bare bones of it are that there were two boys, Daniel aged 8 and Jakob aged 6. Their father, who was Russian, took them to Russia on Christmas Day 2012 and it took 2 1/2 years for the mother to get them back, including having had to litigate in the Russian Courts.


The wider aspect of the case is probably in the name of it – although the case relates to child abduction and a state of affairs by the father which the Judge described as child abuse and brainwashing, the family’s real name is published.

That is unusual, and many readers might well be wondering why it is okay to do that in this case, but children’s names have to be anonymised in other court cases.

  1. The above judgment was handed down to the parties on 26 November, with a request for submissions on the question of publication. The response of the mother and the Children’s Guardian, represented by CAFCASS Legal, is to support publication in un-anonymised form. The father does not oppose publication in all circumstances, but suggests that the issue should be deferred until welfare decisions about the children have been made. He argues that there is a high likelihood of an adverse impact of publication on the fairness of the proceedings and on the children’s welfare and that the issue would be easier to judge at the end of the proceedings.
  2. I agree with the submission for the mother and the Guardian that there is a public interest in the true circumstances of this case being known, for these reasons: (i) The parties’ accounts of events have already been widely published in England and in Russia. The true facts should be known, particularly where misinformation has been published by one party.

    (ii) This is apparently the first case under the 1996 Hague Convention. It shows the importance of the Convention, the willingness and ability of the courts of the Russian Federation to apply it, and the results that can be achieved when lawyers work together across jurisdictions.

    (iii) Knowledge of the outcome in this case may encourage the adult victims of other child abductions and deter potential child abductors, especially if the latter know that they might be publicly named.

  3. Like the Children’s Guardian, I do not consider that any serious or lasting disadvantage will come to the children from further publication. The existing publicity does not seem to have had any adverse effect on them.
  4. It is clear that an anonymised judgment cannot be published as the identity of the family would immediately be obvious.
  5. The only remaining question is whether publication should be delayed, as the father suggests. I understand the general argument that in some situations publicity could put pressure on professional assessors, or even on the court, but I do not accept it on the facts of this case. The welfare assessment that will now take place will be carried out by experienced professionals. The court’s welfare decision will not be influenced by publicity. The British media has reported the case responsibly and in my view nothing is to be gained from postponement. On the contrary it is in the interests of the family that its time in the public eye begins, and thus ends, as soon as possible.
  6. Accordingly, this judgment can be published as it stands.


There were some dreadful details in this. One theme which kept emerging was the father taunting the mother in a very literary way.

On 22 January, the father e-mailed a poem by Nietzsche to the mother. It is entitled “Vereinsampt” [“Alone”]. The mother correctly interpreted this as the father crowing



On 7 March, the father ordered a book online that was delivered to the mother a few days later. This was “Glory” by Nabokov, which describes a Russian émigré who re-enters Russia secretly and succeeds in keeping his whereabouts unknown from family and friends.


I don’t think I have come across a case before where the menacing communication was by way of literary allusion, and a set of Cliff study guides would have been of assistance

The father had gone to extraordinary lengths with these children

The children lived in these bizarre and unlawful circumstances between November 2013 and June 2014. The only reliable source of information about how they were treated comes from their later accounts to their mother. They have told her that there were many rules of life. They were told that they were being hunted by violent “bandits” who were trying to kidnap them and that she was in the gang. They could only go outdoors one at a time so that no one would see both boys together. They were not allowed to go out on the same day. They were not allowed to look out of windows. On one occasion they had to crouch down in a car. They were given different names. They could not go to school. They were coached to say why they did not want to live with their mother.




  • 90The mother says that the protracted collection was “horrific”, despite what she describes as the very professional approach of the authorities. The father was out and the grandmother, who had stayed with the children, did everything she could to obstruct the process. Her behaviour included:
    • Refusing to open the door until the bailiff started to drill off the locks.
    • Grabbing the children and inciting them to panic by shouting phrases that the children repeated in a monotonous drone: “No, no, no! Mummy is bad!” “They don’t want to go to England, they want to stay in Russia!” The children later told their mother that they were doing what they had practised.
    • Refusing to release the children and smacking the mother’s hand when she tried to touch and reassure them.
  • Refusing to hand over the children’s passports.



On 4 July, the father wrote an article in a Russian online newspaper, describing the children’s “forcible seizure” and saying that:

“There are about 15 people in plainclothes who took part in the taking away of the children, among them were foreigners dressed as members of a US-centric religious organisation, as well as a bailiff brought by them, who refused to produce any documents for the removal of children, but explained that he was contacted by the USA Embassy and ordered to use force. … The persons who broke into the flat used force towards the children and dragged them away by force, parting them from their father and grandmother against the children’s will. The children resisted in every possible way, cried, screamed that they wanted to live in Russia with their father and would never agree to leave for the USA or England. The children, who think of Russia as their Motherland, were irremediably traumatised by such fascist punitive squad’s methods.

The children are Russian citizens; they are fully integrated in Russia, their only native language is Russian … My children and I are Russian citizens, who legally returned to Russia in 2012. … There were numerous offers of amicable settlement suggested to the foreign party, but they were fully ignored under the pressure of Russophobe milieu of the children’s mother. The father is the only legal representative of the children in Russia, and children love Russia and the Russian culture very much.

I am requesting that all mass media, Russian authorities and human rights activists should assist in the immediate search for and discovery of children’s whereabouts … in prevention of children’s isolation from their father and their removal to the USA via England. In case of such removal and full isolation from their father in the foreign-speaking environment, the children will suffer another psychological trauma which will haunt them their entire life.”


The Judge’s findings were powerful and moving


  1. My findings
  2. These three children have been habitually resident in England and Wales since January 2011. After their parents’ separation, the arrangements for them to live with their mother and spend time with their father were carefully negotiated by the parents and approved by the court.
  3. The father’s removal of the children was an abduction, not a retention. I reject his evidence that he only decided to keep them after they arrived in Russia. When he took the children from London, he had no intention of returning them. He had planned it for months, lulling the mother into a false sense of security so that she would agree to the holiday he proposed.
  4. The father’s characterisation of Daniel Jakob and Jonathan as Russian children is a self-indulgent delusion. Of course they have a Russian parent, albeit he himself has lived most of his adult life elsewhere. But until December 2012, when they were aged 6½ and 4½, the boys had always lived in Switzerland and England. They had never even visited Russia. Their Russian heritage is important, but it has been played upon by the father because it is the one thing that he can offer that the mother cannot.
  5. Having successfully got hold of the children, the father set about strengthening his position by engaging in a series of cynical manoeuvres, delaying tactics and deceptions that he knew the mother would be powerless to oppose. He was only willing to accommodate her in the children’s lives if she came to live in Russia, where she would be under his control. When she would not agree, her access to the children was strictly limited, and then stopped altogether. In doing this, the father counted on his legal position in Russia being secure. I find that he intended to keep the children indefinitely, and was only frustrated by the determined actions of the Russian authorities.
  6. The father claims that his actions were influenced by Russian legal advice. I do not accept that he ever genuinely considered his position to be legitimate. He is a man who relies on advice that suits him and ignores advice that does not. He flouted every order of this court and when faced with orders of the Russian courts, he went underground. His excuse for this (danger from unidentified persons) is a bogus invention, but the children were not to know that. They were brainwashed into believing that they were being pursued by dangerous bandits, including their mother. The seriousness of this is not only measured by the length of the separation created by the father, but also by his willingness to root the mother out of the children’s lives. This was not just child abduction, it was child abuse.
  7. One of the father’s strategies has been to politicise the children’s situation for his own ends. He took to the Russian media in an attempt to whip up domestic political sentiment by means of deliberate lies, and he delayed the children’s return by obtaining a travel ban. He pursued his goal of keeping control of the children in every legal and illegal way he could devise.
  8. The children and their mother have been profoundly affected by these events. For a year and a half, their lives were turned upside down. The boys were separated from their mother and brother. They were forced to live a bizarre clandestine life, surrounded by lies and cut off from normal existence. It will take a long time for them to come to terms with these experiences.
  9. At this hearing, the father had the opportunity to show regret and insight. Unfortunately, by his written and oral evidence, his questioning of the mother, his submissions, and his decision not to attend the hearing in person, he showed that he has little appreciation of the impact of his actions on anyone else, including the children. The only person he seemed to be really sorry for was his mother. Throughout his evidence he was pedantic, unreliable and untruthful. When confronted methodically with the clearest evidence, his reaction was to misrepresent, prevaricate, minimise, extenuate and contest. There was no sign of any real remorse. So far, his apologies are no more than a means to an end, motivated by disadvantage and the failure of his grand plan. The mother’s perception of him, recorded above at paragraph 112, is in my view justified.
  10. Anyone meeting these parents without knowing the family history is liable to be misled – misled into underestimating past events by the mother’s extraordinary serenity and dignity, and misled into underestimating future risks by the father’s outward appearance of intelligence and courtesy. Given the sustained ruthlessness of his conduct, the risk of further alienation or abduction is high.
  11. The collusion by the father’s family increases those risks. The children’s uncle could have used his influence for good, but instead has chosen to support the father throughout. The grandmother’s conduct can only be described as unworthy of a grandparent.
  12. The next stage of these proceedings concerns the children’s future welfare. However harmful their father’s behaviour has been, he is an important figure for them. Unfortunately, he set about teaching them that they do not need two parents. It will take them time to unlearn that lesson.


Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

One flew over the Cuckold’s nest

The peculiar set of facts of Re M 2013, which hinged on whether a child had been conceived by artificial insemination, or in the traditional way, and if the former, whether the husband of the mother had consented.  Also, we touch on the issue of anonymity. 

The case is here

We have three players – M, who is the mother of the child, F who provided the gametes for the child’s conception, and H, the husband of the mother.  It is fairly to establish that M  is the child’s legal mother, but establishing who is the child’s legal father is a bit more difficult.

In essence, F was a man who was a sperm donor on a regular basis. Sometimes he did this by means of artificial insemination (AI), and sometimes by natural intercourse (NI).  It was factually agreed that F had been contacted by M and asked to assist with her fertility issue, and that some episodes of NI took place. The issues between the parties were these :-

1.       Was the event which led to the conception of the child, AI or NI ?

2.       Was the Husband in agreement with this?

Why is that relevant? The Court are clearly about to plunge into very delicate and sensitive matters and things are liable to get (excuse the phrase in this context) sticky.

Well, it is because when the Government decided to legislate and regulate the whole business of insemination done outside of the confines of a relationship or even one night stand, they brought into being the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008  (HFEA from now on)

Section 35 of that Act, provides (in very clinical language) that if a woman is married, her husband shall be the legal father of a child produced by artificial insemination with another man’s gametes PROVIDED that he consented to that insemination taking place.

If he did not consent, he is not the child’s legal father. And the donor of the gametes would only be the child’s legal father if he had provided the mother with a notice saying that he consents to be treated as the father of the child AND M has provided him with a notice that she agrees to that.  So, a child conceived by AI without the consent of the Husband  (H) or biological donor of the gametes (F) agreeing to be treated as the Father would have no legal father.

With me so far?

IF the child was conceived by NI, then the male participant would be the child’s legal father (but would not automatically acquire parental responsibility, unless he was registered on the birth certificate)

In this case, which was heard by Mr Justice Peter Jackson – who is rapidly becoming the “go-to” guy on difficult AI cases, the Mother was claiming that the conception had taken place as a result of NI, and that therefore F was the biological AND legal father. She was also seeking orders for financial support for the child from F, under Schedule One of the Children Act 1989.

It would be fair to say that the role of the Court became less one of determining which of F or M was telling the truth, but which of them, after sifting through the multiple lies that each had told, was the more credible in their overall account.  Given that F said the conception was by AI, and M said by NI, one of them must have been telling the truth about the circumstances, and it was, the Judge said, unfortunate that each of them had told so many lies in the proceedings.

These are the lies the Court found that M had told. (The names that I give are names that are within the anonymised transcript, and do not relate to the real names of M, F or H, or the child)


·  Examples of Ms M’s deceptions are these:

(1) Her opening e-mail to Mr F stated that she was healthy (she has a medical condition) and that Mr H was excited about donor insemination (he was against it but she hoped to bring him round).

(2) She told Mr F that she had miscarried his child, when she had in fact had a termination.

(3) Her ‘misdirected’ email to a girlfriend, deliberately sent to Mr F, is the work of a fluent fabricator.


 (4) Her use of the ‘Andy Hitchings’ name and e-mail account shows a capacity for determined and malevolent action to achieve her ends, and also demonstrates that she will use an alias when it suits her.

(5) I find that she wrote those ‘Andy Hitchings’ emails that she denies writing. Her criterion for accepting or denying authorship was no more than an assessment of the damage that the truth would do to her case.

(6) I find that she probably wrote the ‘Nicole White’ and ‘Edward Mason’ e-mails for the reasons given in Mr F’s opening submissions. She has had two years to prove that these people exist in the face of Mr F’s allegation that they do not, but she has made no attempt to do so.

(7) If I am wrong about point (6), the only plausible alternative is that Ms M conspired with one or more other persons unknown to pursue her campaign against Mr F.

(8) Ms M’s reason for keeping a transcribed log of text messages was that it was as a record for the child. This is unconvincing; a more likely explanation is that she kept the information as a form of insurance.

·  I found Ms M to be an unimpressive witness in relation to the above matters and to show no sign of discomfort when caught in an obvious lie. She freely stated that she is motivated by her own need for Mr F to be punished.



And then these are the lies that F told

·  Examples of Mr F’s deceptions are these:

(1) His calculating betrayal of his girlfriends, to whom he made promises that he was no longer engaging in sperm donation, and his unabashed dishonesty in concealing his overall activities from recipients with whom he entered into relationships.

(2) His casual untruthfulness on his website profiles about the number of children that he had fathered, lies that would only work to his benefit by disguising a level of hyperactivity that might have deterred responsible approaches.

(3) His deliberately misleading first statement, in which he trumpets the rules of the website as being ‘AI-only’ in an effort to create the impression that this was the case here, when in fact he had been engaging in and advertising sexual activity through the website for years.

(4) His untruthful evidence in these proceedings and to the CSA that he had not had sexual intercourse with Ms M until December 2010 or January 2011, when on his own case it occurred in October 2010.

(5) His gratuitously inaccurate statement that sexual intercourse with Ms M began ‘at her instigation’.

(6) His denial of certain text messages to and from Ms M, taking the same selective tactical approach as she has done.

·  As to the last matter, the log of text messages was produced by Ms M in an unsatisfactory form (allegedly transcribed in edited form from notes that no longer exist of texts that have been ‘lost’). Having exercised due caution in the light of Ms M’s general dishonesty, I nevertheless find that the record can be viewed as a reasonably reliable journal of this form of communication between the couple. The messages have the spontaneous and often inconsequential flavour of real life, are congruent with the content of the contemporaneous emails, and are in my view beyond even Ms M’s powers of fabrication. Moreover, had she wanted to invent evidence, she would probably have inserted some direct and unambiguous reference to sexual activity, but there is none. Many texts are accepted by Mr F, but only where they do him no damage.

·  Mr F’s evidence was clearly given, but he had clearly taken the strategic decision to tell the truth where possible and to lie where necessary. He at least conveyed some impression that he would have been more comfortable telling the truth if circumstances had not prevented it.



The Judge then had to weigh up, which of them on balance was telling the truth on the central issue of conception, taking into account that the burden of proof was upon M as the applicant


·  On the central question of the manner of this child’s conception, I have reached the clear conclusion that Ms M’s evidence is greatly to be preferred to that of Mr F. My reasons are these:

(1) Her account of the sexual activity is detailed and has been consistently maintained. It was unshaken during her evidence.

(2) As a straw in the wind, her answer to an unexpected question about what happened to the AI equipment after the first meeting (which was that she kept bringing but not using it) had the ring of truth.

(3) Allowing for the difficulty faced by any witness in breathing life into a denial, Mr F’s evidence on the issue lacked any real conviction.

(4) His new-found certainty that the first occasion of sex was in late October is inconsistent with his previous accounts and best explained by his having decided to sail as close to the wind as he could in terms of dates.

(5) If the first occasion of sex occurred in October it would have been at one address: if it was in December or January, it would have been at another, Mr F having moved in the meantime. A mistake about dates might be explained: a mistake about venue cannot be accounted for so easily.

(6) My findings about Mr F’s unreliability as a witness are of course relevant.

(7) While of no great importance, it would be a curiosity that the child was conceived by AI at a meeting that was the immediate predecessor of his parents’ very first sexual activity.

(8) The coy and flirtatious tone of their emails and texts from the start suggests that the couple’s relationship had swiftly progressed far beyond AI. The approach seems to have been to communicate in way that was not explicit, chiming with the wish to keep the affair hidden from their partners. Of interest, the tone of the texts and emails is no different before and after October 2010.

(9) I attach no real significance to the use of the term ‘donor’ by either parent when it is clear that this was used interchangeably in their minds for AI and NI. As Mr F put it, ‘I call it donation by sex or receptacle’.

(10) I reject Mr F’s case that a simple friendship and closeness developed between himself and Ms M arising from the intimate nature of AI. The sheer amount of time the couple spent together in a variety of private places from April 2010 onwards is a strong indicator that they were meeting for more than repeated AI.

(11) Mr H believed from an early stage that his wife was having an affair, and I believe that he had good grounds for thinking so.

(12) On the evidence, Mr F did not commonly engage in extended continuous asexual relationships with the women he met through the website. He has an unmistakable track record of inveigling or encouraging recipients into engaging in sexual activity with him from the very first meeting. Ms M’s account of Mr F making a pass at her during the first meeting is consistent with descriptions given by others. Of note, Mr F accepted that he had given her the option of AI or NI within minutes of their first meeting, which was highly inappropriate when she was a stranger who had come for AI.

(13) I accept that Mr F first became involved in licensed donation altruistically and even now, I do not discount a residual element of altruism in his make-up or forget that there are many much-wanted children alive today as a result of his efforts. However, I am clear that in relation to his website activity his mainspring has been to meet his own needs, at least at a sexual level. This is seen by his behaviour in 2007, when he advertised himself in graphic terms as willing to participate in a ‘breeding party’, i.e. a male-dominated orgy designed to get a woman pregnant, though there is no suggestion that he actually took part in such activity. Likewise, he referred in evidence to an occasion when he engaged in sexual activity with both members of a lesbian pair who had approached him via the website.

(14) The fact that Mr F is bound in his professional life by a clear code of ethics makes the risks he was taking the more surprising. His prolific sexual activity with recipients amounted to a brazen flouting of the rules of the website, such as they were. In one relevant period of 2-3 months alone, he was on his own account having sex with three women and providing AI to two others. Most of these contacts had to be kept secret from the other women involved. The sheer logistical challenge alongside his professional life will have been a burden that he would have been likely to have laid down if he had not been driven on by some degree of compulsion. He even kept up and refreshed a posting on a different website, from which he never received any custom over a period of years, and despite the volume of applications the main website was reliably producing.

(15) I reject Mr F’s case that Ms M main motivation is financial, but accept that much of her behaviour is explained by a desire to damage him in any way she can as a way of getting redress for his deeds and his lies.


Thus finding that F was the biological and legal parent of the child, the child having been conceived by natural intercourse.


Where things get really rich, was the application for costs

Ms M seeks an order that Mr F should pay her costs, while Mr H seeks an order that Mr F should pay his costs on an indemnity basis. Mr H’s costs, it will be recalled, come to £13,000 and Ms M’s to £81,000, of which £61,000 is publicly funded.


Well, I see some merit in H asking for it, but after those findings about the pack of lies that M told, asking for a costs order required some bravery. It wasn’t successful.

The issue of anonymity was touched upon, and it is relevant in view of the current debate and the last blog piece that I wrote. Underlining here is mine.

·  Prohibited steps application Mr F seeks an order in these terms:

1. No party may, without the permission of the court, disclose to any person other than their respective legal advisors any of the evidence, oral or written, which has been adduced during these proceedings.

2. No party may disclose to any person other than their respective legal advisors, close friends and family members, or medical professionals treating either themselves or the child any information relating to the circumstances of the conception of the child.

3. For the avoidance of doubt, paragraphs 1 and 2 of this order prohibit disclosure of any information covered by those paragraphs in any of the following ways:

a. By email to any person other than those included in paragraph 1 of this order;

b. By posting the information on any website or internet forum;

c. By publishing the information via Twitter, Facebook or any other social media;

d. By disclosing any of the information to any representative of the Press.

4. Other than specifically provided for in this order, any disclosure which would otherwise have been permitted by Family Procedure Rules 2010, r.12.73 or 12.75 is prohibited unless the party wishing to make such disclosure has obtained the permission of the court.

·  Mr F seeks this order to prevent what is described as prurient interest in the circumstances of the child’s conception. He points to the findings about Ms M’s past behaviour in relation to third parties as heightening this risk. He is anxious to protect his personal position, that of the child and that of third parties, including other children fathered by him. He fears that the financial proceedings may prompt Ms M to renew her public campaign against him.

·  Ms M, who initially appeared attracted by the idea of such an order, now opposes the application. She considers that she should be free to discuss such information or desist from doing so as she sees fit in so far as is otherwise permitted by law.

·  FPR 2010 r.12.73 and r.12.75 protect information arising from the proceedings, either by way of written or oral evidence, or by description of what occurred in court, but at the same time permit disclosure of information relating to the proceedings in defined circumstances, which do not include communication to the public at large. However, in the absence of a specific order, there is nothing to prevent anyone talking privately or publicly about matters that do not originate from within the proceedings: the mere fact that information arising independent of the proceedings is then referred to within the proceedings does not mean that it cannot continue to be spoken of.

·  In this case, Mr F applies for greater restrictions than those imposed by the rules. In balancing the interests that arise under Articles 8 and 10, I am clear that this is not a case in which it would be appropriate for the court to make an order of this kind. Looking at the matter from the point of view of the child, I doubt that the sort of transient publicity that might follow either of the parties speaking publicly would have any real effect on his welfare or of other children. This is not an encouragement to anyone, and in particular Ms M, to go to the press. On the contrary, all parties would no doubt be wise to desist from washing dirty linen in public, but that is a matter for them, and not for the court to regulate in the circumstances of this case. I am not influenced by Ms M’s change of stance: had the parties been united in the application, I would still have refused it.


And thus the judgment is published, with names anonymised, with the standard rubric (see the last blog post) about anyone wishing to make use of the judgment having to do so on the basis that no information leading to the identification of the parties will be provided.


I know that some of my readers, and some of the media, and population at large, take the view that anonymising the judgments is a step too far, and that the names should just be made public save for the most drastic of circumstances.


But imagine, if you will, that this judgment, which is up online and can be viewed by anyone who looks for it, named the child, F, M and H, giving their real names.  Anyone in the child’s social circle could read it now or in the future, and know the whole grisly story of the conception and the lies , manipulation and deception that both of his biological parents were involved in. And could tell the child that , or tease or bully the child with that information. Imagine you are the child, and ten years hence you type your name into Google, and THIS judgment is what comes up.  And you see your mother’s name, and the name of her husband, who you thought was your father?


This is of course, nowhere near the worst things that are contained within family court judgments; and it is for that reason that I would support publication of anonymised judgments (hopefully with some clear guidance on what can or can’t be done with them) but not for the routine naming of those involved.