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Divorcée Loses Anonymity Bid: Media Editors Successfully Contested Reporting Restriction Order

Divorcée Loses Anonymity Bid: Media Editors Successfully Contested Reporting Restriction Order

Reporting restiction orders during a divorce

The Court of Appeal has rejected an application for a reporting restriction order by a former wife involved in financial remedy proceedings against her husband. Tina Norman had claimed that her financial affairs were “private business” and that there was no public interest in the disclosure of her identity. Editors at a number of media organisations including the Times, Mail, Telegraph and Sun newspapers successfully contested the making of a reporting restriction order.

The dispute between Tina Norman and her ex-husband Robert Norman had already been considered by a family court judge.

Ms Norman said her financial affairs were “private business” – and argued that there was no public interest in her identity being revealed.

But three judges refused to impose an identity ban following an appeal at the Court of Appeal by representatives of the press.

Former wife accuses husband of concealing his wealth

The judges reached their decision after a hearing in which Ms Norman fought for more money, accusing her former husband of “duping her” in their divorce settlement.

Judges heard how the couple reached a cash agreement several years ago after separating, with Mrs Norman receiving the pair’s Surrey home and £6,000. The mother-of-two had been entitled to monthly maintenance payment, but instead settled for a lump sum “in a bid for financial independence.”

Ms Norman now claims her former husband “concealed” much of his wealth, including assets allegedly worth £300,000, so leaving her “ignorant” of his true fortune.

She has made allegations of “misrepresentation or fraud” and is now demanding a bigger payout, but fought to have her name concealed during the proceedings.

Barrister Matthew Waszak, representing Ms Norman, said a bar on naming her would protect her rights to private and family life.

“There would be little or no public interest in the identities of the parties . . . being identified,” he told judges, adding “The press can still report the substantive issues in this case without people knowing names.” He furthermore argued that Ms Norman’s personal affairs should not be “laid bare” in national newspapers.

For his part, Mr Norman was “neutral” about the identity issues.

Judges are urged to uphold the principle of open justice

Barrister Adam Wolanski, who represented the newspaper editors as well as bosses at media company Sky, said Ms Norman’s private and family life was not at the centre of the case. He said appeal judges were considering the case at a public hearing. Transparent justice was a fundamental principle of the British judicial system and it was vital that people were told what was happening in courts, he said.

He added that it was in the public interest for the names of people involved in court hearings to be reported because reports without names generated less public interest, and cautioned judges to be “vigilant” before handing down orders which were exceptions to the principle of open justice.

Judges said journalists could name Ms Norman and her ex-husband in reports of the case and said they would outline the reasoning behind their decision at a later date.

Divorce linked to eating disorders

Experts warn that divorce is contributing to higher-than-expected numbers of middle-aged women developing eating disorders. Researchers found that almost one in 25 women in their 40s and 50s has had anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating or a purging disorder in the past 12 months. Lead author Dr Nadia Micali, of University College London, said: “We have never looked at this problem before so probably under-estimated it. Eating disorders can be set off by one of a number of traumatic events – and divorce is certainly a stressful experience.”

Dr Micali also noted that “Parental separation or divorce during childhood seemed to increase the risk of bulimia, binge-eating disorder and atypical anorexia.”

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If you would like to discuss any aspect of family law, are considering divorce proceedings or a trial separation, or want to draw up a pre or post-nuptial agreement, call us in absolute confidence on 03456 381381. Alternatively, please email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk. IBB’s family law experts are based in Chesham, Buckinghamshire and provide support to clients throughout Buckinghamshire, London and all surrounding areas.