Family courts open their doors

FAMILY proceedings at Ipswich County Court are open to the media for the first time, following a Government decision to allow more transparency in the judicial system.

FAMILY proceedings at Ipswich County Court are open to the media for the first time, following a Government decision to allow more transparency in the judicial system.

Under new legislation put forward by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, journalists are able to attend and report on matters of divorce and those concerning children, having previously been excluded from attending family cases heard at county courts.

Reporting the identity of a child's name, address, school, or any information that may identify them, is still restricted but court rulings can be made public.

The press is now permitted to observe the responsibility of family courts to decide whether a child should be taken into care and to make judgements on custody and the division of finances in divorce cases.


You may also want to watch:


But according John Levis, the East Anglian co-ordinator of fathers' rights pressure group Fathers 4 Justice, the changes will make little difference. “The government claims to have made changes but have imposed so many provisos that only high profile celebrity cases will be reported fully.

“We have always campaigned for family courts to be as open as other courts but the press is still being told what can and can't be reported.”

Most Read

Mr Straw believes the change in the law governing family courts will still protect children and families but will “ensure a change in the culture and practice of all courts towards greater openness.”

Yesterday Ipswich County Court heard the case of a mother and father battling for custody of their one-year-old child, taken into care by social services last year.

Representatives from the council's social services department and solicitors representing both parties questioned expert witnesses on the ability of both parents to raise the child.

The court heard comments from professionals who had prepared psychiatric reports on the parental capability of both mother and father, who since last year have seen their child under supervision on four occasions each week.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter