BBC loses appeal on naming sex offender
The BBC has lost its appeal to the Supreme Court over a ban on journalists naming an immigrant who was deported after being jailed for gross indecency with a child.
Corporation lawyers argued that a Scottish court was wrong to bar foreign national “A” from being identified after he said he would be at risk of “life threatening” violence when he returned home.
But a panel of five Supreme Court justices – deputy president Lady Hale, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes and Lord Hodge – unanimously upheld the ban.
The 47-year-old man arrived in the UK in 1991 and was later granted indefinite leave to remain after marrying a British woman.
In 1996, A was jailed for four years for indecent assault on a woman and sexual offences against a child and was ordered by the Home Secretary to be deported at the end of his sentence.
Lawyers said the man’s name and picture had been published in coverage which followed his conviction.
Lord Reed said: “This appeal raises important issues concerning the principle of open justice.”
The BBC was challenging an anonymity order made by the Court of Session in judicial review proceedings stemming form a tribunal’s decision to go ahead with deportation.
The case concerned the legal basis for departing from the principle of open justice and the procedure which should be followed.
Lord Reed said: “A is now residing in the country where, as the tribunal concluded, he is at risk of serious violence if his identity becomes known in connection with these proceedings.
“His application for judicial review of the tribunal’s decision to authorise his deportation has not yet been heard.
“In these circumstances, it is appropriate both in the interests of justice, and in order to protect A’s safety, that his identity should continue to be withheld in connection with these proceedings, and that the order should therefore remain in place.”