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RTX -v- Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust(anonymity)

|High Court|Anonymity Order

Claim No. QB-2020-002944

 

IN THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE
QUEENS BENCH DIVISION

3 September 2020

Before:
Master Dagnall
Between:

RTX
-v-
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust


UPON the Application (“the Application”) of the Claimant made by Notice of Application dated 27 July 2020 And without a Hearing or Notice of the Application having been served upon the Defendant
AND UPON consideration of the Claimant’s Article 8 right to respect for private and family life and the Article 10 right to freedom of expression
AND UPON Court considering the Notice of Application and the accompanying draft order sought by it and the witness statement in support AND THAT:
1. The action is one which is likely to attract significant media attention and publicity.
2. The action relates to alleged, but unspecified, sexual assault and where it
is unclear whether the Claimant is an alleged child or adult victim, and where, at least if the matter were the subject of criminal proceedings, the Claimant might be entitled to the protection of section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 and/or the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and to matters which do or may attract statutory anonymity and provisions against publication of the identity or address/location of the Claimant and their family
3. It is conceivable that publicity revealing the identity or address/location of the Claimant could unfairly damage the interest of the Claimant and their family and give rise to serious harm to the Claimant or their family.
4. It may well be that Non-disclosure of the identity of and anonymity of the Claimant and of their family and of their addresses/locations is necessary in order to protect the interests of the Claimant and to secure the proper administration of justice.
5. Until an urgent hearing can take place the Claimant’s identity and address/location ought to be withheld from the public and should not be published, and that the Court should allow these prohibitions and give consequential directions, and that such prohibitions are necessary to secure the proper administration of justice 6. It is necessary to sit in private to secure the proper administration of justice, and including because publicity would subvert the purpose of the Application and this Order.
AND pursuant to the section 11 Contempt of Court Act 1981, Civil Procedure Rules 1998 rules 1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.3, 3.10, 5.4 A-D and 39.2 and the inherent jurisdiction of the Court.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
(1) The Application be listed for a remote Teams hearing (with the Claimant being identified only as “RXT”) at 2pm on 22 September 2020 before Master Dagnall (time estimate of up to one hour) “the Hearing”
(2) The Claimant shall serve the Notice of Application and this Order and the existing and any further evidence in support upon the Defendant as soon practicable
(3) Any party shall have permission to apply to set aside or vary the above provisions of this Order by application to the court (which application if not to be sent also to the other party shall specify the reasons for such) made on or before the Hearing.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND DIRECTED THAT:-
1. The identity and the address/location of the Claimant and of their family be not disclosed or published without the permission of the court (other than as required for the purposes of the carrying on of this action).
2. There be substituted for all purposes in this application in place of references to the Claimant by name, and whether orally or in writing, reference to the sequence of characters, RTX; and the Claimant shall be described in all statements of case and other documents to be filed or

served in the proceedings and in any judgment or order in the proceedings and in any report of the proceedings by the press or otherwise as “RTX”.
3. The address of the Claimant be stated in all statements of case and other documents to be filed or served in the proceedings as the address of the Claimant’s solicitors.
4. That insofar as necessary, any statement of case or other document disclosing the Claimant’s name or address already filed in the proceedings be replaced by a document describing such name or address in anonymised form as above (and in the meantime shall be kept confidential), and the Claimant’s solicitor shall have permission to file with the court such copies of such documents adjusted so as to comply therewith.
5. The original of any such statement of case or other document disclosing the name or address/location of the Claimant (and in particular any Application Notice, or any statement of case, judgment, Order or other document to which anyone might have access to pursuant to Rule 5.4 A-D or otherwise at any time) are to be retained by the Court in a sealed envelope, marked “Not to be opened without the permission of a Judge or Master or District Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division”, or, if electronically filed or scanned, shall be placed on the court file and marked “confidential: not to be opened without the permission of a Master or High Court Judge”. 6. Any person not a party to this action may not inspect or obtain a copy of any document on or from the Court file (other than this order duly anonymised as directed) and whether pursuant to Part 5.4 A-D of the Civil Procedure Rules or otherwise, without the permission of a Judge or Master of the Queen’s Bench Division. Any application for such permission must be made on notice to the Claimant and the Court will effect service. The Court file is to be retained by the Court and marked “Anonymised”.
7. The reporting restrictions apply as to the disclosing of any information that may lead to the subsequent identification of the Claimant. The publication of the name or address/location of the Claimant or of any member of the Claimant’s immediate family is prohibited.
8. The Claimant must serve a copy of this Order and of the Notice of Application and the witness statement in support upon the Defendant and otherwise comply with CPR Rule 23.9 as soon as practicable.
9. The Defendant may apply under CPR Rule 23.10 and CPR3.3(5) to set aside or vary this Order at or prior to the Hearing.
10.Any non-party affected by this Order may apply on notice to all parties to have this Order set aside or varied.
11. The Court will further consider the anonymity Application at the Hearing of the application for Pre-Action Disclosure
12. The Claimant has permission to apply to set aside or vary this order.
13.A copy of this Order shall be published on the judicial website of the High Court of Justice specifying that the Claimant shall be referred to as RTX. Further Reasons
1. I have considered the decisions in Zeromska-Smith v United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust [2019] EWHC 552 (QB) and in Jones v Ministry of Defence [2020] EWHC 1603 (appendix) in both of which anonymity was refused. However, those cases are distinguishable not only on their individual facts but as this is a case of alleged sexual assault (which attracts at least some of the policy considerations for anonymity underlying the statutes cited in the Recitals above), 2. The witness evidence in support of the Application (and in conjunction with the Claim Form) is extremely unspecific. I have no details of the age of the Claimant (now or at any material time) or of the number or detail of the alleged assaults or of any harm or risk if anonymity was to be refused, albeit that the application has been made very promptly at a very early stage.
3. Thus it seems possible that a full application for anonymity may be justified and succeed but I do not consider that I have the proper material before me at this point, and, also, the Defendant, which is a public NHS body, has had no chance to be heard (and neither has the press). On the other hand, I am concerned that not to make an anonymity order now could result in disclosure of the Claimant’s name (and address) and cause precisely the harm which anonymity orders are designed to avoid.
4. I am therefore listing a hearing in about two weeks time (to have an anonymised title) and with what is effectively an interim anonymity order in the meantime. It seems to me that that will not unduly prejudice open justice whilst preserving the parties’ various rights. The Claimant may well wish to serve and file further evidence in support. If the Claimant supplies such further evidence and wishes to contend that the Hearing is unnecessary then the Claimant can apply accordingly. The parties (and the press) are further protected by permissions to apply and the usual publication order.

 

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