Children have no special right to privacy, judges rule

CHILDREN have no more right than adults to be protected from unwelcome and possibly harmful publicity, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

The power of judges to ban publication of material likely to cause pain and distress to a child is limited to safeguarding the confidentiality of court proceedings over the child's welfare and upbringing.

Freedom of speech 'is a trump card which always wins' and, outside well-established exceptions, there is no question of balancing it against other interests, said Lord Justice Hoffmann, sitting with Lords Justices Neill and Waite.

The judges were giving their reasons for allowing, on 27 January, an appeal by Central TV against an emergency order by a High Court Family Division judge banning the broadcast of film of a convicted paedophile because it could lead to the identification of his ex-wife and their five-year-old daughter.

The film formed part of a documentary about the work of Scotland Yard's Obscene Publications Squad. The girl's mother had obtained an injunction requiring pictures of the father to be obscured.

Lord Justice Neill said the programme had nothing to do with the care or upbringing of the child. Central TV had been entitled to broadcast it in full.