Contempt of Court

A High Court Judge comments on legal representation in family case. The Judge has allowed a litigant in person (being someone without legal representation) found to be in contempt of court “one more opportunity, should he wish to take it, to obtain legal representation” before he is sentenced.

Jason-Steven: Wong made a covert audio recording of a private family court hearing in adoption application proceedings before giving the recording and associated documents to another individual. The recording was subsequently published on YouTube. The YouTube video recording is accompanied “by a specific encouragement to others to defy the authority of the family court”.

The Honourable Mr Justice Cobb said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Jason-Steven: Wong “knowingly brought a hand-held recording device into the family court and intended to, and did in fact, use it to record the entirety of the hearing”. The Judge listed a hearing to consider sanction for the proven contempts for a month’s time adding: “I take this opportunity to remind the defendant of his right to have a publicly funded lawyer. It is not too late for him to receive legal advice and benefit from representation at the next hearing.”

The Judge rejected Jason-Steven: Wong’s claim that recording the proceedings was to further the public interest. He said: “In this regard, I respectfully adopt the succinct and unequivocal despatch of a similar argument in HM Attorney General v Paterson per Males LJ: “The defence which he seeks to run to the effect that he was seeking to expose some kind of fraud for organised crime is simply nothing to the point”.”

He said: “There is, arguably, no category of case within the wide range of our diverse jurisdictions which is more sensitive or private than those concerning the adoption of a young child. It is, in my judgment, a most serious contempt of court to defy the long-established principle of privacy in adoption cases by covert recording of a hearing; the contempt is aggravated when the recording is publishe.


Urmilla Seenath

Published on 06/11/2023

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