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Report No. 196

(4) Re C (a minor)(Wardship: medical treatment) No.2 (A) 1989(2) All ER 791 (Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR, Balcombe and Nicholas L. JJ.)(21/26 April 1989)

This judgment refers to need to restrict 'freedom of publication' and to the harm which publications may cause to the ward. Question was whether injunction could be granted against newspapers wishing to identify and interview those involved in the care and treatment of the ward, and from publishing details of care and treatment and family background.

The Court heard the application of Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday made before the Court of Appeal to review its earlier order of 20.4.1989 restraining any person from making or causing or permitting inquiry directed to ascertain the identity of the patients, patient's parents, doctors, hospital and medical advice.

The review was allowed in part. It was held that since publicity about the medical treatment of the ward of the Court could affect the quality of care given to her, the public interes.- that is required in ensuring that the quality of care she was receiving did not suffe.- would require the Court, in the interests of the ward, to issue an injunction prohibiting identification of the ward, the parents or publication of information in that regard, notwithstanding that the ward may be incapable of noticing such identification or publicity.

Moreover, such an injunction would reinforce the duty of confidentiality owed by those caring for her. The injunction against identifying the parents was justified in order to protect the wardship jurisdiction since parents might refuse to make a child a ward of Court if they thought that they might be identified and singled out for media attention.

(Of course, while external publication should be stopped, the doctors and hospital or local authority must know the real name of the patient or names of parents so that it can have an idea as to the patient In Respect of whom the Court has passed order.- in regard to continuing or withdrawing life support etc.)

Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Back

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