CA orders release of court judgment on Ellie Butler’s death

“I cannot help thinking that the CA showed a touching faith in (i) the efficacy of a direction that a jury should ignore the press/internet when trying a case and (ii) the responsibility of the press when handling such an explosively newsworthy story, were Butler to be tried again. Nor is the internet subject to the fade factor applicable to print journalists – after a few Googling seconds I could find as much press coverage as I wanted on Butler and Gray over the last few years, and much of it strongly prejudicial.

I quite understand the strong policy reasons for not allowing criminal appeals on the grounds that the right to a fair trial had been impaired by grossly prejudicial press coverage. But I am not sure this can be read directly over to the current situation, where any problem could be avoided altogether by not releasing the judgment until Butler’s potential appeal had been determined. That is not to say that I disagree with the outcome – a convicted defendant cannot simply hold up press disclosures by saying that he wants to appeal.”

UK Human Rights Blog

benbutler2106aC (a child) [2016] EWCA Civ 798  read judgment

This is the most recent in the long series of legal steps touching on the violent career of Ben Butler, recently convicted of the murder of his daughter, Ellie. 

Butler was convicted for Grievous Bodily Harm, and then cleared on appeal. Care proceedings were commenced at the end of which Ellie was ordered to be returned to her parents by Hogg J in October 2012. A year later, on 28 October 2013, Ellie was found dead.

C, the subject of this appeal, is Ellie’s younger sister. In June 2014, Eleanor King J, in the family courts, found that Butler had caused Ellie’s death, Ellie’s mother (Jennie Gray) had failed to protect her from Butler, and C had been the victim of physical and emotional abuse. This judgment had been the subject of reporting restrictions.

Immediately after Butler’s conviction in June 2016, media organisations…

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