The former adoptive parents of a 16 year-old girl have won the right to discuss their experiences with the media.
The couple applied for permission to publicise their experiences after their adoption of a 16 year-old girl broke down. They wished to publish a judgement setting out the girl’s need for therapy; and also sought permission to identify themselves to the media with the pseudonyms used in the court judgements. In addition, they applied for a declaration that it would not be contempt of court to talk to the media about the failed adoption and their interactions with the local authority and the family justice system.
The girl in question reportedly suffered from reactive attachment disorder.
At the High Court, Judge Clifford Bellamy said the couple were free to publish the judgement as the girl’s continuing need for therapy had not been met. The issue required publicity and transparency was important to encourage confidence in the family justice system. The couple would, however, need to remove some references to the girl’s behaviour from the judgement.
The couple were also free to identify themselves using the legal pseudonyms, provided they kept their real names a secret and any photographs of them were properly pixelated and audio recordings disguised.
Section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 allows for the publication of material “relating to proceedings before any court sitting in private” in certain circumstances. The judge concluded that there was enough material relating the case already in the public domain to allow the couple to discuss the case with the media and there was no need for a further declaration. The couple would also be permitted to name certain individuals at the local authority when discussing their experiences and the authority’s failure to provide therapy for their former adopted daughter.