Prison Sentence for Litigant In Person

A judge has acknowledged the ‘extremely high’ prison population before sentencing a litigant in person who recorded private adoption proceedings to four months in prison.

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.

Aggravating features in the case included that the recording was ‘a deliberate contempt in defiance of clear court signage’, was made covertly and appeared on YouTube, where it was viewed more than 1,600 times. Mitigating factors were that Wong never denied making the recording, and no harm was caused to the underlying family court proceedings, which concluded with a final order in 2022.

One of the three videos was removed from YouTube shortly before sentencing and two other videos, which were not the subject of a finding in the contempt proceedings, have been ‘apparently moved to a private area of the internet’.

The Honourable Mr Justice Cobb sentenced Wong to four months' imprisonment for recording the proceedings and for disposing of the recording and associated documents to another with a view to their publication on YouTube.

He said the contempt was ‘so serious that it must be met by an immediate, albeit short, custodial term’.

He added: ‘The prohibition on recording family proceedings and on publishing certain information relating to family proceedings is vital to the integrity of family proceedings. The deliberate defiance of the law prohibiting recording and publication of family proceedings involving children must therefore result in substantial punishment. The defendant, and those who support him (some are observing this hearing on the video-link), or who otherwise come to know of these proceedings and outcome, should be under no delusion about this.

‘The punishment needs to reflect the court’s profound disapproval when the child is named.’

Wong was also ordered to pay £5,000 costs.

 

Oliver Kew

Published on 17/01/2024

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