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Disclosure case heads to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is to consider an appeal against a recent ruling ordering the identification of a person who had made allegations of sexual abuse relating to child contact proceedings.

The case involved a child, A, now ten years old, the daughter of parents identified as Ms G and Mr J. After the parents separated, the father applied for a contact order. Under a subsequent order in 2009, the child was to stay with her father for a fortnight in February and for four weeks over the summer.

Later, a young person identified as ‘X’ in the court reports alleged that the father had repeatedly abused her while she was a child. X is reported to have made the claims in confidence and did not wish to pursue the allegations, or even to disclose them to her family at first.

After the allegations, Social Services contacted A’s mother Ms G and told her that an unidentified person had alleged sexual abuse by Mr J, advising her to take steps to protect the child. As a result, the mother applied to change the contact order.

The father responded by applying to the courts for X’s identity to be disclosed, as well the nature of her allegations and her medical records too. It emerged that X had serious health problems, both mental and physical, and according to a psychiatric report,, revealing her identity and making her give evidence in proceedings would exacerbate these. Nevertheless, the identify of X had inadvertently been revealed to A’s mother Ms G, who told her that the allegations were true.

At the initial court hearing, Mr Justice Jackson declined to order the identification of X, saying that it would be harmful to do so. At the subsequent Court of Appeal hearing, Mr Justice McFarlane reversed that decision, saying “the balance of rights comes down in favour of the disclosure of X’s identity”.

The case will come before the Supreme Court on 29 November.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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