Contradictions in Judgment in re: Watson
 EWHC 2376 (Fam)Doncaster v Watson
has been published in which Wall P says: "The first myth I wish to explode is that a person can be sent to prison "in secret". Nobody in this country is sent to prison for contempt of court "in secret"."
He also makes reference to: EWCA Civ 248 Hammerton v Hammerton
in which it is clear that someone was sent to prison "in secret". Hence he is wrong in that someone 'can be sent to prison "in secret"' and he has given an example of it. The contradiction is referred to in his own judgment.
I know of other more recent cases where people have been sent to prison in secret. Obviously I cannot name them here.
It is quite clear that secret trials are less reliable than those subject to public scrutiny. The key accountability of the judicial system (as a whole) is transparency and public accountability.
Prosecutions for Contempt are for all intents and purposes criminal prosecutions. People have been imprisoned in this country after a secret trial and with their identity subject to reporting restrictions. This is not in accordance with the rules, but it happens.
Vicky Haigh's trial for asking a question at a meeting which I chaired in parliament was subject to reporting restrictions that prevented her from being identified.
My view is that for the system to operate properly and for justice to be done that such criminal prosecutions should occur without reporting restrictions save as to any material that relates to any underlying care case.
I am doing some research into wider jurisprudence here to identify what the norm is throughout Europe, but it remains that this country has been locking people up in secret and shouldn't.
We also need to look at the reliability of the appeals process. There are many problems here, not least the general resistance of the secret courts to timely production of transcripts of judgments (and refusal to allow parties to record the judgments to produce their own transcripts).