Shannon Matthews’s father tries to block publication of report

Shannon Matthews
Shannon Matthews

The father of abducted schoolgirl Shannon Matthews is asking the High Court to block publication of a report he believes will “seriously compromise” her welfare.

A QC representing Leon Rose told Mr Justice Holman, sitting in London, that if a “redacted” version of a serious case review is made public it would cause his daughter “upheaval” as she continues to “heal from her ordeal”.

Shannon disappeared in 2008 from her home in Dewsbury Moor.

After a massive police operation she was discovered 24 days later at her stepfather’s uncle’s home less than a mile away. In January 2009 her mother Karen was jailed for eight years for what a judge described as a “truly despicable” plot to abduct the nine-year-old.

Michael Donovan, in whose flat Shannon was found in the base of a bed, was also jailed for eight years.

A summary of the review is already in the public domain.

Mr Justice Holman heard that the intention was not to publish the full Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board review, but for publication of a “redacted overview” document.

Anthony Hayden QC, representing Mr Rose, who was present in court, said that even if the document was revised to remove any ambiguity, Shannon’s father would still “resist” its publication.

He told the court: “While it is possible, at least theoretically, to revise the report in a way that makes it perfectly plain that the father is a positive and important influence in Shannon’s life, nothing can prevent the upheaval to her life that will be caused by the publication of this document.

“That is primarily why we are seeking to resist publication.

“It is perfectly feasible that we can have discussions to amend the document, but the central hardship here is to Shannon.”

Mr Hayden argued that if the document was published, even in its redacted form, it would “seriously compromise the delicate progression of Shannon’s therapeutic work” and her “settling into” a stable adolescence and adulthood.

For the balance to fall in favour of publication, it “must outweigh pressing welfare imperatives”.

The hearing was adjourned until today.