Tickle v Herefordshire County Council & Ors [2022] EWHC 1017

Malcolm Chisholm and Niamh Daly acted for the local authority in an important case which related to the rapidly developing issue of transparency in the Family Court.


The case concerned an application by Ms Tickle, a freelance journalist, to see certain documents relating to concluded care proceeding; to listen to recordings of the proceedings; and to interview the mother. The intention was for that information to form part of a forthcoming BBC Panorama programme. The local authority cross-applied, seeking a Reporting Restriction Order to place restrictions on what was to be reported, including the names of social workers.


The Court reiterated that the Re S balancing exercise must be undertaken in cases like this with an "intense focus" on how the competing rights apply in the particular case. The Court also considered how applications to withhold the names of social workers should be approached. Lieven J held that this was a ‘distinct and separate issue’ to that of the Re S balance.

Lieven J noted that in general, it is not for the Court to restrict the media from publishing comment about employees of public authorities or private companies, save in very particular circumstances. Applying Abbasi v Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust [2022] 2 WLR 465 Her Ladyship emphasised that there may be circumstances where the Court is prepared to restrict the naming of professionals but that this is in circumstances where there is evidence of potential vilification and harassment of those professionals.

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