Judgment concerning best interests of A and whether she should receive covert medical treatment and reporting of proceedings where there had been closed and open hearings.
A is a 23 year-old woman with a diagnosis of Asperger's, epilepsy and primary ovarian failure. She had been taken from her mother's (B), care out of concern that she had not yet started puberty, which could have serious long-term effects and the fears that she would continue to be influenced by B. During that care a covert medication placed was commenced providing A with hormones to induce puberty: A was offered the hormones, but if she refused then they were administered covertly. The plan was not discussed with B and was the subject of closed CoP proceedings. Legal bloggers had reported on earlier hearings in open court but had no knowledge of the closed proceedings.
This judgment is in two parts dealing with the closed and open hearings. Part One deals with the application concerning the covert medication plan. Poole J decides that continuing the covert medication was in A's best interest in the short-term as it had provided irreversible advantages for her physical and mental health though it needed to continue. However, a fresh look would be required for the longer term as the ongoing proceedings and the consequent open hearing would mean that A and B would be informed of the cover medication. Part Two deals with what reporting restrictions should remain. Poole J recognises that the case is possibly unique, that Article 10 is engaged as the use of covert medical treatment authorised by the court is of public concern and that blogging about the hearing would be meaningless without knowledge of the covert treatment. At  discharges the RRO:
"The RRO concerns convention rights and A’s best interests. There is considerable and understandable anxiety to remove any chance of A discovering that she has been and continues to be covertly medicated. An RRO might go some way towards preventing those who know A or know of her, from finding out about the use of covert medication, but there seems to me to be a very slim chance of anyone then conveying that information to A, and there is an even lower chance of A herself accessing a report of the case and realising that she has been covertly medicated. Weighing the risks of that happening against the importance of open justice, weighing the convention rights to which I have referred and scrutinising the comparative rights with an intense focus, in my judgement the RRO should be discharged. The protections of A’s interests afforded by the Transparency Order and injunction, allow the RRO to be lifted."
Read the judgment on the National Archives.
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