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Secret Imprisonments and the RCJ press office

What we know (and was reported by PA) is that at a hearing which started at 9.30am in Court 35 in the RCJ Theis J committed a woman to jail.
On 2nd August Sir James Munby the President of the Family Division sent out a circular which clarified the practice directions of May and June. The circular is Here in a PDF form, but this is what it said.
From: President of FD 
Sent: 02 August 2013 11:02 
To: ZZ RCJ Family High Court Judges; ZZ DFJs; ZZHMCTS Justices Clerks; Arbuthnot, 
District Judge 

Dear All, 

You will recall the Guidance on Committals issued by the LCJ and me on 3 May 2013 and the 
supplemental Guidance I issued on 4 June 2013. In relation to the latter may I remind you of 
paragraph 5. 

A question has arisen as to whether paragraph 6 of the original Guidance applies in all 
committal cases or only in cases to which paragraphs 4 and 5 apply. 

Paragraph 6 applies in EVERY case in which a committal order or a suspended committal 
order is made, WITHOUT EXCEPTION. 

Paragraph 6 thus applies whether the committal application has been heard in public or in 
private and whether or not the contemnor has admitted the contempt(s). 

Paragraph 6(a) makes clear that the judgments to which paragraph 6 apply "include" any 
judgment given in accordance with paragraph 5 and any statement given in accordance with 
paragraphs 4 and 5. But it is not limited to such judgments or statements. The word "includes" 
has its ordinary meaning of "includes, but is not limited to". 

The principle is very clear and MUST be rigorously followed. NO-ONE is EVER to be 
committed for contempt of court by a family court or the Court of Protection (whether the 
sentence is suspended or takes immediate effect) without (a) the name of the contemnor (b) 
proper details of the contempt(s) and (c) the reasons for the committal being made publicly 
available in a judgment published on the BAILII website. 

In a case where the contemnor has admitted the contempt(s), the judgment required by 
paragraph 6 may take the same kind of form as sentencing remarks in the Crown Court, so 
long as (and this is VITAL) what is said in court and then put up on BAILII sets out the name 
of the contemnor, proper details of the contempt(s) and the reasons for the committal. 

We shall be subject to strong and entirely justifiable criticism if it emerges that anyone has 
been committed since 3 May 2013 without the name of the contemnor, proper details of the 
contempt(s) and the reasons for the committal appearing on BAILII. I very much hope that 
there are no such cases. If there are, it is ESSENTIAL that steps are IMMEDIATELY taken to 
ensure that the judgment is put up on BAILII. 

In the unlikely event of there being any difficulties with BAILII the matter is to be reported to 

James Munby P 

The circular was issued following a comment from me to his office where a judgment had not been issued. I think the circular is very clear. However, the press office of the RCJ don't think it is clear and are saying that it is OK that someone has been imprisoned and we don't know who.

The government have a responsibility to count imprisonments so we can check they are not happening in secret. They have, however, refused.


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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

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