Researching Reform has today written to the President of the Family Division, to ask why a case with graphic details of suggested child sexual abuse was published, and then later removed.
The case involved a father who had sent several thousand texts to his partner in which they both spoke about sexually abusing their own children produced with other partners.
Researching Reform shared the case on Twitter, after it had been uploaded onto the judiciary’s website.
The document offered an important insight into how child sexual abuse within families occurs, and the levels of coercion and manipulation, often of women, associated with this form of violence.
The case was then removed from BAILIII, a global legal database which publishes publicly available cases from courts around the world.
The link to the case on the judiciary’s website remained active throughout the day and the following night, and no notice was issued by the President of the Family Division about the case or the document.
The link on the judiciary’s website appears to have been deactivated this morning, however no formal statement has been issued by the President about whether the document had been published in error, despite the first page of the document being labelled “Judgement Approved” and with the following notice attached:
“This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.“
We have written to Andrew McFarlane this afternoon to ask for further details about the document, why it was published and why it was subsequently removed. A system which hopes to operate transparently must explain its actions and direct members of the public and the press when events change or documents are taken down.
This is what we wrote to the President: