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Contempt of Court and Imprisonment

Family Law

In the case of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council v Watson [2011] a private investigator found to be in contempt of court had her 9 month prison sentence suspended.

Elizabeth Watson had been sentenced to nine months in prison for contempt by breaking an order to restrict publicity of the case and forbidding the identification of the child involved.  Ms Watson communicated allegations regarding the case via email with a large number of third parties and also gave material to an internet provider.  These allegations had already been found to be false by two other judges and revealed the identity of the child.

At the hearing to overturn her conviction Ms Watson expressed remorse for what she had done and that she had done everything she could to remove the information from the internet.  Ms Watson’s sentence was suspended for two years and she was released immediately.

The President of the Family Division Sir Nicholas Wall stated “I wish to re-emphasise that committal proceedings are not issued in order to stifle free speech, but to ensure obedience to orders of the court.  Everybody is entitled to free speech; but equally nobody is entitled to breach an order of the court”.

For help and advice regarding family and child matters please contact our Family Department on Eastbourne 01323 727321 or Hailsham 01323 841481 for a free initial appointment.

Nicholas Dennis
Nicholas Dennis
Alexandra Funnell
Alexandra Funnell
Guy Brown
Guy Brown
Carolyn Richards
Carolyn Richards