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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 88: Conditions for making order

468.Subsection (2) requires three conditions to be met before a court can make a witness anonymity order. They are described as conditions A, B and C.

469.Subsection (3) sets out condition A, which is that the measures to be specified in the order are necessary for one of two reasons. The first is to protect the safety of the witness or another person or to prevent serious damage to property. There is no requirement for any actual threat to the witness or any other person. The second is to prevent real harm to the public interest. This will cover the public interest in national security and in the ability of police or other agencies to conduct undercover work.

470.Subsection (4) sets out condition B, which is that the effect of the order would be consistent with the defendant receiving a fair trial. Thus the grant of the order must be compliant with Article 6 of the ECHR.

471.Subsection (5) sets out condition C, which is that the witness’s testimony is such that in the interests of justice the witness ought to testify and that either the witness would not testify if the order was not made or there would be real harm to the public interest if the witness were to testify without an order being made (such harm might, for example, arise as a result of the identity of a member of the security services being made public).

472.Subsection (6) specifies that in determining for the purposes of condition A whether the order is necessary to protect the safety of the witness, another person or to prevent damage to property, the court must have regard to the witness’s reasonable fear of death or injury either to himself or herself or to another person (“we’ll get your kids”) or reasonable fear that there would be serious damage to property (“we’ll fire-bomb your house”).

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