Release of court documents to the security services in children proceedings

“MI5 must come back to court, if need be by closed material procedure (considered as a coda to the judgment at paras [89] to [95]), for further release. The emphasis will remain – so far as possible – for the family courts to preserve the frankness which s 98(2) is intended to encourage; and to do so alongside the rights to confidentiality of the children and other parties involved.”


Confidentiality a pre-requisite

In X, Y and Z (Disclosure to the Security Service) [2016] EWHC 2400 (Fam) judgment on 6 October 2016 (headed Commissioner for Police of the Metropolis v A Local Authority) McDonald J dealt with an application by the Metropolitan Police (MPS) to release a judgment and mother’s statement in unconcluded care proceedings to the security services (otherwise MI5). MPS had received the documents on their own earlier application. MPS wanted to release the documents to assist in their enquiries (eg in case MI5 could provide them with information about any criminal, including radicalisation, information about the mother: MI5 were not a party to the application).

The mother did not consent nor oppose. All other parties agreed to release. The case turned on whether there should be, and if so what, conditions upon release. MPS said release should be unconditional. Taking the lead for the respondents…

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