Webber v Webber and Others
Atkins Hope acted to protect the privacy and Article 8 Rights of the family of Ms Webber from considerable press intrusion both during and after the Criminal trial of Ms Webber.
In a case where Ms Webber had defrauded the benefits system of £350,000 the press interest was considerable and the means of the fraud involved a system of claims using her “wholly innocent children” as was clearly set out by HHJ Niblett the criminal trial judge at Brighton Crown Court.
Charlotte Collier (Director) of Atkins Hope Solicitors was consulted by the family at the eleventh hour less then 2 days before The Sun sought to discharge any Crown Court order protecting the identity of the children in the leaving the way open for them to publish the identities of the children and other family members; working closely with specialist counsel Mary Lazarus from 42, Bedford Row, the case was brought into the High Court and heard by Mr. Justice Cobb who granted an order protecting the family and unusually during a criminal trial also the identity of the defendant Amanda Webber until any verdict when the matter would be reviewed.. To prevent the publication of the name of a defendant during a trial is unusual but was necessary of the very specific facts of this case.
Ms Webber was convicted on 23/05/2013 and publication of her name was possible given the review of the case conducted by Mr. Justice Cobb on 21/5/13. At that review certain additional information about the family could be published but the names of the children and their father remained out of the press, the balance fell on the side of Art 8 in this matter as far as the family was concerned and this was due to the nature, means and extent of the fraud.
Expressing her thoughts on the case Ms Collier said
…. “This has been a real nightmare for the family who without this order would have faced very considerable press intrusion into their lives. A number of the children are vulnerable due to their ages and circumstances, they are, as has been clearly stated both in the Crown Court and at the High Court, “ wholly innocent” in this matter, for them to have then faced a media storm would have been appalling.
I would also wish to say that Atkins Hope were able to act for our client with the benefit of legal aid, we were able to take swift and effective action on his behalf, how long such provision will remain available is a matter of concern to all legal aid practitioners. What families will do without representation in such complex and difficult situations when faced with lawyers on the other side is very troubling.”
Atkins Hope Solicitors