Secret family court ruling in Ellie Butler case published


A ruling relating to the murder of six-year-old Ellie Butler which had been kept under wraps for more than two years has been published.

The ruling, made by Mrs Justice Eleanor King following a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, was made public on Thursday after a number of media organisations took legal action.

Mrs Justice King analysed issues in June 2014 - after Ellie had died but before her father Ben Butler was convicted of her murder.

Social services bosses at the London Borough of Sutton, who had been responsible for Ellie's welfare, had asked the judge to make ''findings of fact'' to help staff take decisions about the future of a younger sibling.

Mrs Justice King, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, Butler was ''responsible for Ellie's death''. The judge said Ellie had suffered a skull fracture.

The King ruling was published following a decision by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier this summer, a number of media organisations asked a High Court judge to conclude that Mrs Justice King's ruling should be published.

They said publication would be in the public interest as a result of Butler's conviction.

But Mrs Justice Pauffley, who also sits in the Family Division of the High Court, rejected the application.

Editors then appealed and three Court of Appeal judges decided Mrs Justice Pauffley had been wrong.