Judge bans media reporting of family finances

This week saw the publication of an unusual High Court decision concerning the issue of privacy in divorce proceedings. Having heard arguments from the couple’s respective lawyers with regard to public disclosure of the couples financial resources, District Judge Hilary Bradley has forbidden any publication about the details of the family finances. And, what’s more, she did so on the basis that the balance between press freedom of expression and the right to private and family life should fall firmly in support of the maintenance of family confidentiality and privacy – after hearing from father’s lawyer in particular of the potential embarrassment to him of the revelation of the family’s financial dealings in the press.

In most cases, details of a family’s finances are normally kept private – but there was considerable media interest in this particular case and newspaper lawyers argued in favour of publication on the basis of “serious public interest”. Who did it concern and why? That’s covered by the court ban, which also prevented identification of the couple. However, earlier, the family had been unsuccessful in trying to keep newspaper reporters out of the courtroom – who subsequently, despite their presence in court throughout the hearing, were forbidden from divulging what they’d heard about the case and, in particular, the finances of the father and the son.