G suffered a heart attack which caused an irreversible hypoxic brain injury, leaving her in a permanent vegetative state. Her life was preserved by means of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration. It was agreed that it is not in G’s interests for this to be continued and declarations have been made to this effect by the court.
Hogg J made a RRO on 11 March 2016 to last until one month after G’s death. The RRO prohibited identification of G or her family. The Trust submitted there is no public interest in G or her family being named and therefore applied to extend the RRO indefinitely, which was opposed by the Official Solicitor and the Press Association.
The Press Association submitted that the application “represents an attempt to persuade the court to derogate from the principle of open justice and extend the right to respect for private and family life beyond reasonable limits.”
The Trust relied on observations made by Charles J in V v Associated Newspapers Limited  EWCOP 21, that the normal duration of a RRO should be until further order.
The Official Solicitor submitted, in response, that satellite litigation on an issue of this kind is to be avoided.
The court decided that there was no reason to vary the reporting restriction order, as made by Hogg J.
There is no evidence that the identification of G would harm her family members or be a significant infringement of their privacy. Additionally it is unlikely that there will be any significant reporting and the fact that a RRO may not make much of a difference cannot strengthen the case for restrictions.
In reality the court noted this application may not have been made but for the decision in Re V. This judgment should be read alongside Re V to fully understand the reasoning behind the application.
Jackson J highlighted the following key points in his judgment:
- A RRO can continue after death to protect the rights of survivors;
- Where a RRO is made in a case where death is foreseeable, the court will consider whether the appropriate duration is to be until death, until a fixed date after death or until further order;
- In Re S (A Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication)  1 AC 593 it was decided, as confirmed by Charles J in Re V, that “competing values of privacy and freedom of speech must be closely scrutinised in the individual case and that neither is by its nature privileged over the other”;
- The name of someone who dies is always a matter of proper public interest and should be recorded as a normal incident in society;
- In order to gain reporting restrictions, it must be shown that privacy considerations outweigh any matters for public consideration, such as where a coroner’s inquest is held.