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Judicial office names judge in anonymous case

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming pushed for for the inclusion of a judge’s name in a recently published family court ruling.

Mr Hemming, known for his sometimes controversial campaigning on family law issues, said he thought there had been a mistake when the judgement,  RBC  v R & J-M, appeared on legal website Bailii with no name attached.

He told the Telegraph:

“I understand the need to protect children in family court cases. But not identifying the judge is taking anonymisation a step too far, I think.”

A spokesman for the the Judicial Office, which represents judges across England and Wales, later named the judge as Her Honour Judge Eleanor Owens and her name was also added to the published judgement on Bailii.

The case, held in Reading County Court, concerned an application for care orders made by the local authority for three children, aged nine, six and two years. They came from a troubled family. The judge noted that social workers had trouble fully assessing the situation, “principally as a result of the complexity of the family relationships and the conflict between family members, characterised by multiple allegations and counter-allegations.”

The oldest child was born when the mother was still a teenager. In March 2013, the latter contacted social services and reported that she felt suicidal. Social workers visited and said it was clear that the children had been exposed to “ongoing and serious domestic violence” between the parents for a several years.

The mother was later diagnosed with a personality disorder. The judge made findings regarding care of the two youngest children but said further assessments of the older child’s circumstances were needed in order to make a ruling , so she ordered an adjournment.

Read the judgement here.

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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