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A defeat for justice and transparency

By Paul Connolly

Published 01/05/2015

The anonymity granted to 'CS' is just the latest case in an unfortunate trend in Northern Ireland's courts to protect the identity of accused and convicted criminals.

Recent examples include a mother accused of killing her own baby, drug dealers and sex offenders.

Although the 'CS' case was a civil matter, it was one that arose from a criminal conviction. The fundamental principles are the same.

Back in 2013, a convicted sex offender known only as 'XY' used the same claim - that he might kill himself - to convince a criminal court in Belfast to grant him anonymity. It is believed to be the first such ruling in British legal history.

We warned 'XY' would open the floodgates as others convicted of terrible crimes used the ruling as precedent. Now those floodgates are being prised further open by overly-conservative judicial decisions that would not be accepted in other jurisdictions on these islands.

As the rest of the UK moves forward to embrace transparency and open justice, Northern Ireland, unfortunately, travels in the other direction.

Paul Connolly is the Belfast Telegraph's Readers' Editor

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