Photo ban for care girl grandmother

Herald Series: A judge has told a grandmother whose granddaughter was taken into care to stop posting the child's name and photo on the internet A judge has told a grandmother whose granddaughter was taken into care to stop posting the child's name and photo on the internet

A judge has ordered a woman whose two-year-old granddaughter was taken into care to stop posting the youngster's name and photograph on the internet.

Judge Ross Duggan said the woman had been "very disappointed" after failing to convince a court that she should be allowed to look after the little girl.

He said she felt that the decision was unfair and he said she should not be prevented from commenting or criticising. But he said she had "embarked upon a campaign" which undermined the child's right to privacy.

And the judge barred publication of the toddler's name and photograph after social services chiefs at Staffordshire County Council applied for an order preventing her from being identified.

Detail of his decision - made following a hearing at Stoke-on-Trent County Court - has emerged in a written ruling published on a legal website.

Judge Duggan's decision comes nearly five months after the most senior family judge in England and Wales refused to outlaw the broadcast of a man's footage of social services staff taking his newborn child into care.

In September, Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, made an order preventing the baby from being identified by name.

But Sir James refused to ban the publication of images of the baby - saying there was a public interest in people having access to the footage so that the work of social services departments and family courts could be debated.

Sir James, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, said the case raised important questions about reporting of disgruntled parents' complaints about ''deficiencies'' in the family justice and care systems.

He had analysed that case - which also featured Staffordshire County Council - at a hearing in the High Court in London.

Judge Duggan said the case he had analysed differed from the case before Sir James.

"In that case the restraint of publication of photographs of a tiny baby was considered to be inappropriate," said Judge Duggan.

"The present case I find to be very different. This child is significantly older and correspondingly easier to identify from photographs.

"Indeed, the grandmother has used a photograph as part of her campaign to seek out the whereabouts of the prospective adoptive placement.

"This is one of the most harmful aspects of the case and an element from which the child needs protection.

"Carrying out the same balancing exercise as did the president, I reach a different conclusion and find that the publication of photographs must be restrained alongside the publication of names."

Judge Duggan said the woman should not be prevented from commenting or criticising.

But he said he had been shown her Facebook postings and added: "This child has a qualified right to privacy and family life. The courts of this country have decided that her future lies in adoption, which means that she has a qualified right to successful, stable, undisturbed family life within adoption.

"The evidence presented to me leaves me in no doubt that the grandmother has embarked upon a campaign to undermine these rights enjoyed by the child."

He went on: "The order does not prevent campaigning, discussion or debate. However, as in many other cases, these must not include the use of the true names or photographs of the child as this would be harmful to her."

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