Court lifts anonymity order in David McGreavy case

3 June 2013 by

David McGreavyM, R(on the application of) v The Parole Board and another [2013] EWHC 1360 (Admin) – read judgment

Reporting restrictions on proceedings concerning a life prisoner should be discharged since the public interest in allowing media organisations to publish reports outweighed the prisoner’s human rights.

The claimant had been convicted of the brutal murder of three infant children in 1973. Subsequent to his incarceration in open prison, his movements had come to the attention of the press. Inmates made threats and the claimant was moved to secure conditions.  When he sought judicial review of a decision by the parole board in 2011 (declining his return to open conditions), the judge granted an order restricting reporting of  the claimant’s identity, the details of his offences and his current location.  In this hearing, various media organisations intervened to request the discharge this order.

Factual background 

The claimant, who remains in a vulnerable prisoners unit (VPU), argued that the reporting restrictions order should remain in place, in the light of press reports which had triggered attacks or threats of attacks on him. These he said would threaten his rights to life under Article 2 and protection from degrading treatment under Article 3.  He also contended that his rights under Article 5 were engaged in the event that he would, in consequence of the risk presented by disclosure of his details, have to remain in the segregated conditions of a VPU. Under Article 5 he had a right not to be detained arbitrarily. As to Article 8, he had the right to respect for his “physical and psychological integrity” which he maintained was threatened by the lifting of the anonymity order.

The media interveners contended that the Court, in this hearing, was only concerned with whether the Parole Board had made a legally valid decision not to recommend his transfer to open conditions, and that to impose a news black-out in a case of such seriousness would be to deny the public the right to know the outcome in a disproportionate way, which runs counter to the public need for open justice. They also submitted that it was the exceptional nature of the claimant’s crimes and his identity that generated and justified the public interest in his case. Whilst it was conceded that the claimant’s identity and whereabouts would need to be protected from public knowledge in order to ensure his safety and to facilitate his re-entry to society, the case advanced to the court by the media interveners was that in current circumstances a cogent case for anonymity has not been presented.

The court granted the application and ordered that reports of the judicial review proceedings should be permitted, as there was “a strong public interest” in favour of such reports.

Reasoning behind the judgment

Pitchford LJ emphasised that courts should be vigilant to prevent inappropriate encroachment upon the right to report matters of public interest arising from court proceedings:

The importance of the principle of open justice at common law is so well known that it does not require further emphasis in this judgment. It is a cornerstone of the rule of law that public justice should be publicly reported unless the interests of justice otherwise require: Scott v Scott [1913] AC 417 at 463

He considered in detail the authorities pertaining to the situation where the state’s positive obligation to protect life under Article 2 had to be weighed in the balance against the press interest under Article 10, observing there had to be a very high degree of risk calling for positive action for the authorities to protect life (Osman v United Kingdom 29 EHRR 245). Most of the cases on that point related to witness protection (most notably In re Officer L [2007] 1 WLR 2135 (HL), but the Supreme Court decision in favour of press freedom regarding the details of a terrorist suspect was relevant: In re: Guardian News and Media Ltd and Others [2010] UK SC 1.

The most important factor was that there was at present no real and immediate risk to the claimant’s life and safety because he is serving his sentence in conditions in which his safety can be closely monitored. Experience had shown that interest in him waxed and waned depending on the prominence given to his offences and the profile of the prison population with whom he was serving his sentence.

Our decision by no means consigns the claimant to a VPU for the rest of his sentence.

There was no evidence that the claimant had been denied the means to engage in offence-related work which would enhance his progression within the prison system, and there was no evidence to support his Article 8 claim that his psychological health was not significantly at risk.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS 

Related posts

1 comment;

  1. John Love says:

    Information and knowledge of truthful factual events is a basic human right. It is a wrongful abuse of power to circumvent hinder or prevent information that does not interfere with the security of the State or the immediate and real threat of danger to witnesses or victims of crime to use discretion to withhold such information.

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: