Opening up of family courts may be dropped after opposition from vulnerable children

    Constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer has strongly hinted he will drop plans to allow the media automatic access to the family courts in the face of significant opposition from vulnerable children questioned on the plans.

    In a speech on Wednesday, Falconer admitted that vulnerable children questioned on the issue “overwhelmingly rejected the idea.”.

    He added: “They do not want people in the court hearing details of their lives. They are worried about themselves or their families being identified by people whom they do not trust to report responsibly.”

    Falconer said that a way forward “may involve allowing the press or the public in only where the judge expressly agrees as an exception”, rather than as of right.

    The government yesterday published a sumary of responses to its consultation on opening up the family courts, which was launched last July.

    Other respondents were split on the issue of media access, though lawyers, other court practitioners, public bodies and judges’ representatives came out against giving the press the right to enter the courts.

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