Judge Bans Naming Of Jehovah's Witness Who Died In Hospital Having Refused Blood Transfusions

The woman refused blood transfusions on the grounds of her religion
The woman refused blood transfusions on the grounds of her religion
Shutterstock / Torsak Thammachote

A High Court judge has made an order preventing journalists naming a dead woman. The woman - a Jehovah's Witness who died early on Wednesday at a hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne at the age of 63 - had featured in litigation in the Court of Protection.

Earlier this month, Mr Justice Peter Jackson had given doctors permission not to administer blood transfusions in line with the woman's religious beliefs. The judge - who sits in the Family Division of the High Court and in the Court of Protection - had barred publication of the woman's identity when she was ill in hospital.

And he said in a ruling, following a hearing in London, that the "unusual circumstances" of the case had raised "interesting questions" about the restrictions on the reporting of information after death.

The judge raised the issue of the dead woman's identity at a hearing which featured no barristers. But he invited submissions from a solicitor representing the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which had treated the woman - and a reporter.

The solicitor argued against publication of the woman's name; the reporter in favour. "The unusual circumstances raise interesting questions about the court's jurisdiction to restrict the reporting after a person's death of information gathered during proceedings that took place during her lifetime," said Mr Justice Peter Jackson, in a written ruling published a few hours after the hearing.

"It seems to me that the proper approach is to make an order that preserves the situation until the time comes when someone seeks to present full argument on the question. I will say no more than that for the present."

He added: "I make a Reporting Restriction Order preventing the naming of (the dead woman)." And he said anyone "affected by the order" may apply to vary or discharge it.

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