Transparency Project News: Legal bloggers – a level playing field?

12th February 2019

Barrister: Lucy Reed
Source: Transparency Project
Summary: In August THAT Muslim foster carer story hit the press (‘Christian child forced into foster care’, The Times, 28 August 2017). The Times journalist Andrew Norfolk, lauded for his expose of the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal, was the subject of trenchant criticism for what was widely perceived as anti-Islamic coverage of a case involving a white Christian child placed with (it was said) Muslim foster carers who did not speak English and who withheld a crucifix and spaghetti carbonara from the child. The case has caused all sorts of consternation – about the state of our foster care system, about the importance (or not) of religious and culturally matched placements, about the state of our family justice system, about the state of journalism. We wrote about the case at the time (see below) – in short whilst we had significant concerns about some aspects of the coverage, we later became concerned that some of the criticism of Norfolk might itself not be entirely fair or accurate. However, the case raised a more general issue about transparency and the role of organisations such as The Transparency Project, which we think is worth highlighting in this column. From the end of August there was a lull in commentary on the foster care case – the Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH) was due to be listed on 2 October. Perhaps more information could come to light so we could make a better job of working out where the facts lay, about the placement, the decision making, the court process, the news coverage. Perhaps not.

Lucy Reed