Murderer loses anonymity legal bid
3:28am Wednesday 16th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
A man who committed "appalling and horrific" murders is not entitled to remain anonymous while he seeks rehabilitation, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Three judges said double murderer X, who stabbed his ex-girlfriend and her lover to death in 1996 should not be allowed to keep his identity secret from the press and the public.
It emerged some time after the judgment that X still cannot be named while he seeks to take his case to the Supreme Court for a final ruling.
X said he was entitled to anonymity because he is a hospital patient receiving treatment for mental illness.
The question of him remaining anonymous arose when he challenged a decision refusing him unescorted leave in the community, which is a key step to eventually being allowed to live in the community on parole.
In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, X appealed against High Court judge Mr Justice Cranston's order that he can be named.
Today, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and appeal judges Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Floyd unanimously ruled against him.
Lord Justice Maurice Kay said in the lead judgment that Mr Justice Cranston "was not wrong to refuse an anonymity order".
Stephen Knafler QC argued that X, who sexually mutilated one of his victims, had the right to anonymity because his mental illness trumped the public interest in him being identified.
Mental patients who committed crimes were entitled to protection, including from press harassment, "no matter how horrific those crimes are", said Mr Knafler.
He accepted the X killings "are high up on the scale of horrific crimes".
But that was no reason to deny him the anonymity all mental health patients are entitled to when their cases are considered by courts and mental health tribunals.
Mr Knafler told the appeal court: "There is absolutely no precedent for the order Mr Justice Cranston made in this case. I cannot find a single case where it has been done before."
Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Maurice Kay said: "I accept the need to protect a released criminal from media intrusion or physical attack can be a material consideration in the context of an anonymity application.
"However, it is of limited weight in the present case.
"The position is not significantly different from that which arises when any notorious, violent or sexual offender leaves prison on licence or otherwise, and regardless of whether or not he has been a mental patient."
The anonymity issue arose because X went to London's High Court earlier this year to challenge a 2013 refusal by the National Offender Management Service (Noms) to grant him unescorted community leave.
The court heard that X was convicted 17 years ago. Both his victims received multiple stab wounds and one was sexually mutilated.
He finished serving the 11-year minimum period, or tariff, he had to remain in custody some time ago, and the authorities can now consider whether it is safe to release him on licence.
While in prison, he was diagnosed with a personality disorder and other mental health problems and transferred to Broadmoor high security hospital under the 1983 Mental Health Act.
Since then he has been moved to a medium-secure hospital where, the court heard, he has progressed to having frequent unescorted leave within the hospital grounds - and more than 300 escorted leaves in the community.
Kate Olley, appearing for Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, said he was "strongly opposed to the idea there should be any general presumption of anonymity" in cases like that of X.
But Mr Grayling remained "neutral" with regard to the X case and believed every case should be considered on its own merits and in the light of its own circumstances, which could vary widely, said Ms Olley.