In a ruling given at the outset of the hearing of its first appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that one of the appellants, Mohammed Al-Ghabra (who had previously been known only as “G”) should be identified.

The application to remove anonymity had been made by a number of media organisations and NGOs including Index on Censorship and Associated Press (which has reported on it this afternoon)

However, the Court made interim anonymity orders in respect of the other three appellants, known as A, K and M.  It appears that a final decision on their cases will be made on Thursday 8 October 2009.

The Press Gazette, carries a report of the case from the Press Association’s media law service “Media Lawyer”.  Geoffrey Robertson QC, representing the media organisations, is said to have complained to the Court that “your first term docket reads like alphabet soup” because of the number of appellants who were referred to only by letters of the alphabet because lower courts had granted them “pseudonym orders”.  Two of the four cases being referred to are, however, cases involving children and one concerns a case involving a former member of the security service which the Government argues should be heard by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The Court’s ruling was given after a short hearing and no reasons have been reported. It appears, however, that allegations against Mr Al-Ghabra have been widely reported in the media, as has his identification by the United Nations as an “Al Qaeda sympathiser”, see for example, articles in the Sun and the Telegraph.  It may be, therefore, that the basis of the ruling is what was recently described as the “Canute Principle” (see Re Stedman [2009] EWHC 935 (Fam), para 74ff) – that the dam had burst and in practical terms there was nothing for the law to protect.

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