Liam and Nicole

rex shutterstock

With thanks to REX Shutterstock and the Guardian for the photo

The President told you so…Liam, you should have listened to him! And now you find yourself in a half-built house, with the public looking in through the gaps.

For some reason, I was the last to know that poor Liam and Nicole were having difficulties with their judge. It seems such a short time ago that ‘Oasis’ Liam Gallagher and ‘All Saints’ Nicole Appleton were a happily married couple, and then in April last year in the space of 68 seconds District Judge Anne Aitken granted their divorce. The name of US journalist Liza Ghorbani was also mentioned, but not that of Liam and Liza’s love child, nor the £2m lawsuit that ensued.

Mr Justice Mostyn is the judge that has been given the job of sorting out the money, and last week heard Patrick Chamberlayne QC and Fiona Shacketon argue that the case should be heard in private. His decision is awaited.

Mostyn J has however said, “If you asked someone to design a more crazy system they couldn’t have done it … Sometimes the court has to issue an unanonymised judgment to prevent speculation becoming the new truth.” The government needs to address problems because the existing system is “a half-built house”.

The ‘half-built house’ is the state of affairs where the press are entitled to enter family courts…and, sort of, report bits of what they hear. Here I am confused. but it seems so is Mr Justice Mostyn stating, “The press come in half-blindfolded … The role of the press is more watchdog than as members of the public.”

When, as an advocate, I have raised the prospect of open justice, my judges have simply looked down their spectacles and said, “that is not necessary”, allowing proceedings to continue behind closed doors. Our Family Court President has for a while pressed for family proceedings to be more open – certainly with regard to the reporting of process and decision making.

Of course Liam and Nicole could have opted for a private arbitration. The President is encouraging it – see AI v MT and S v S. So should we. Someone should ring Liam and Nicole and tell them. Or should they? When celebrities marry in the spotlight of public glamour, why hide the aftermath?