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Reporting restrictions

Liam Gallagher and Nicole Appleton’s current divorce battle has triggered a landmark legal dispute over what can be reported in the public’s interest from the family courts.
Both the former Oasis frontman and the All Saints singer, the high court has been told, are opposed to the lifting of reporting restrictions about their matrimonial dispute.
But the proceedings, held in private so far, have highlighted the uncertainty surrounding what precisely can be relayed by the media. Reporters, but not the public, have been allowed into the family court as observers since 2009, the judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, explained on Tuesday. But he admitted: “The press come in half-blindfolded … The role of the press is more watchdog than as members of the public.”
He said that regulations covering what can or cannot be written were not clear. “If you asked someone to design a more crazy system they couldn’t have done it … Sometimes the court has to issue an unanonymised judgment to prevent speculation becoming the new truth.” The government, he added, need to address problems because the existing system is “a half-built house”.
The application and argument made by the media is that no evidence had been presented to suggest that reporting the proceedings would cause damage or distress. Coverage of divorce cases enables the public to learn about how the divorce courts operate and how fair divisions of assets are reached, he said.
The argument against this is that fame does not displace the presumption of anonymity and confidentiality. There is no simple fame exception to the presumption. Gallagher and Appleton have not spoken about their divorce in a warring way or scoring points through the media.