Court to review ban on naming offenders

By John Aston
Tuesday 28 January 2014 05:36

A High Court judge has ordered a magistrates' court to reconsider a decision banning the media from identifying two teenage gang leaders accused of harassing the residents of a town.

Anti-social behaviour orders lasting two years were imposed on the two in January after 18 months of violence and intimidation in Camberley, Surrey. They were accused of assault, nuisance, various acts of trespass, criminal damage, threatening behaviour and intimidation. But District Judge Terence English, who made the orders at Woking magistrates' court, said the teenagers, who were accused of leading a 40-strong gang, should have their anonymity protected.

He said that, although it was generally right in such cases to name names to help enforce the anti-social behaviour orders, he had noticed "a change of attitude" on the part of the brothers and publicity should not be permitted as he wanted to give the orders a chance to work. He also took into account the effect publicity could have on other family members.

Yesterday Mr Justice Elias, sitting at the High Court in London, ruled that District Judge English was wrong in this case to have regard to the impact on other family members. He added that the evidence of a "change in attitude" by the two was "so slim" that he wondered whether it was a conclusion which could properly be reached. He sent the case back to the magistrates' court for reconsideration.

In a second similar case, the judge ordered a court in St Albans to reconsider its decision to allow the media to name an 11-year-old boy accused of pushing dog excrement into a baby's face.