Surrey County Council v Z A-H and others is an interesting case for both family lawyers and media lawyers, and is reported at  EWHC 2190 (Fam)
Readers may remember the tragic case of the Surrey family who were attacked by a gunman, in France, killing the parents and grandmother, and leaving the two daughters as orphans. (The Annecy shootings.) Initially the police thought there was involvement by another family member, making it impossible to place the children in the care of the extended family. The killings were thought to be in response to an inheritance dispute, which meant that the girls’ lives were at risk.
There was huge media interest in the case, and naturally the press wanted to be present at the hearing to decide the future of the girls. However, the question that needed to be answered was whether allowing the media to attend and report would put the girls’ lives at more risk. The Chief Constable wished to exclude the media. The journalists argued that it was in the public interest that the court proceedings should be in public.
The judge, in this instance, decided that the lives of the girls would not be any more at risk with the media there than without, and he also criticised the drafting of the Practice Direction.
Medialawblogger finds it hard to see what public interest is served by the media hearing whether the two unfortunate girls are allowed to be placed with their extended family (they were). The British public has got so used to knowing the ins and outs of the lives of celebrities that its voracious appetite for gossip has to be sated by the juicy details of the private lives of children.