Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MRS JUSTICE RAFFERTY
| R (Harper) and R (Johncox)
|- and -
|Aldershot Magistrates Court
|- and -
|The Press Association
Surrey and Berkshire Media
Guy Vassall-Adams (instructed by the Press Association) for the Press Association
Anthony Hudson (instructed by CPS ) for the CPS Hampshire
Hearing date: 28 April 2010
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Pill :
"The circumstances in which it is appropriate to allow a name or other names to be withheld are rare; see R v Malvern Justices Ex parte Evans . . . it is a misuse of this section to prohibit publication of the address of the defendant if the court is motivated solely by its sympathy for the defendants' well being and not for reasons to do with the administration of justice."
The Magistrates retired and on their return refused the application. They declined to reconsider their decision.
"In any case where a court (having power to do so) allows a name or other matter to be withheld from the public in proceedings before the court, the court may give such directions prohibiting the publication of that name or matter in connection with the proceedings as appear to the court to be necessary for the purpose for which it was so withheld."
"As a general rule the English system of administering justice does require that it be done in public."
Lord Diplock identified the principles on which departure from the general rule is required:
"However, since the purpose of the general rule is to serve the ends of justice it may be necessary to depart from it where the nature or circumstances of the particular proceeding are such that the application of the general rule in its entirety would frustrate or render impracticable the administration of justice or would damage some other public interest for whose protection Parliament has made some statutory derogation from the rule."
"The use of the words 'some other public interest' indicates that Lord Diplock had in mind the protection of the public interest in the administration of justice rather than the private welfare of those caught up in that administration."
"However, I am bound to say that I am impressed with the argument that the action taken by the justices in the present case had nothing to do with the administration of justice. It seems to me that the concern shown by the justices for not giving publicity to Mr. Hocking's home address was solely motivated by their sympathy for his well-being if his former wife should learn of his home address and harass him yet again. That kind of predicament is not, unfortunately, unique. There are undoubtedly many people who find themselves defending criminal charges who for all manner of reasons would like to keep unrevealed their identity, their home address in particular. Indeed, I go so far as to say that in the vast majority of cases, in magistrates' courts anyway, defendants would like their identity to be unrevealed and would be capable of advancing seemingly plausible reasons why that should be so. But, section 11 was not enacted for the benefit of the comfort and feelings of defendants. The general rule enunciated in the passage I have quoted from Attorney-General v Leveller Magazine Ltd.  A.C. 440, 450, may not, as is there stated, be departed from save where the nature or the circumstances of proceedings are such that the application of the general rule in its entirety would frustrate or render impracticable the administration of justice. I fail to see how the revelation of Mr Hocking's home address could in the circumstances in any sense warrant a departure from observance of the general rule of ensuring open justice."
"In our judgment it is impossible to over-emphasise the importance to be attached to the ability of the media to report criminal trials. In simple terms this represents the embodiment of the principle of open justice in a free country. An important aspect of the public interest in the administration of criminal justice is that the identity of those convicted and sentenced for criminal offices should not be concealed. Uncomfortable though it may frequently be for the defendant that is a normal consequence of his crime. Moreover the principle protects his interests too, by helping to secure the fair trial which, in Lord Bingham of Cornhill's memorable epithet, is the defendant's "birthright". From time to time occasions will arise where restrictions on this principle are considered appropriate, but they depend on express legislation, and, where the Court is vested with a discretion to exercise such powers, on the absolute necessity for doing so in the individual case."
Mrs Justice Rafferty :