Case on disclosure of identity of accuser to parties in contact proceedings heads to Supreme Court PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 November 2012 00:00

The Supreme Court has given permission for an appeal in a case over whether the identity of an individual who has made allegations of serious sexual abuse should be disclosed to parties in contact proceedings.

The case of In the matter of X (FC) centres on contact arrangements for a father (Mr J) to see his 10-year-old daughter (A).

The father and mother had married in 2000, but separated two years later when A was six months old.

Mr J applied for a contact order in the county court in 2003. A number of orders were subsequently made, leading up to a final order in 2009 providing for A to stay with the father for two weeks every February from 2010 onwards and for four weeks every summer.

A young person (X) made allegations of sexual abuse by Mr J which allegedly took place when she was a child.

X made the allegations in confidence, but did not wish to take the allegations further. She also initially refused to have her identity or details of the allegations disclosed even to her own family.

Social services contacted the mother of A and told her that allegations had been made against the father by an unnamed person. They advised her to take steps to protect her daughter.

On the basis of this information, the mother applied to vary the contact order.

Mr J and A’s Guardian applied for disclosure of X’s identity, the substance of the allegations and her medical records.

The accuser, X, suffers from significant mental and physical health problems which at times have been life threatening.

A psychiatric report prepared on her behalf said that forcing X to disclose her identity and give evidence would have a seriously detrimental effect on her health.

Before the matter was transferred to the High Court, social services inadvertently revealed X’s identity to the mother only. The mother went to see X, who said the allegations were true. Nothing further was said.

In the High Court Mr Justice Jackson, having seen all the confidential material, refused to order disclosure on the basis of the detrimentail effect on the accuser’s (X) health.

But this was overturned in the Court of Appeal, which ordered disclosure.

See: To disclose or not to disclose by the Court of Protection team at 39 Essex Street.