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Rhubarb* and custody

 

(*Story contains no rhubarb, but was prepared in an environment where there is a risk that rhubarb, rhubarb pollen (?) or rhubarb dust may have inadvertently contaminated the contents )

 

 

A committal hearing in relation to a grandmother who was using electronic media, including Facebook to protest against the adoption of her granddaughter.

 

 

Staffordshire CC and Beech 2014

 

There are two judgments, one being the committal hearing itself, and the second being the sentencing

 

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/OJ/2014/B81.html

 

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/OJ/2014/B80.html

 

 

Probably the most important thing is said at the very end

 

I conclude the Judgment by making clear to Mrs. Beech that there is no objection to her criticising the court, criticising the judge, the Social Services Department or the family justice system. She has an entitlement to campaign about these matters. What the court will not tolerate is the use of the name of her grandchild or the photograph of her grandchild in connection with this campaign.

 

 

The Court did find that the grandmother had breached the orders preventing her from naming her grandchild and using photographs of her grandchild within the campaign. Part of that had been to ask a wide network on Facebook to circulate the photograph of her grandchild with a view to tracking her down in the adoptive placement and find out where she was.

 

Allegation number 1. Mrs. Beech has a group Facebook page entitled “Stop social services” which has about 7,000 members. This page was compiled before my Injunction Order was granted. The page has photographs of the child and a slogan including her name. The page contains the assertion that the child has been stolen by Staffordshire County Council Social Services. On 24th January 2014 the Injunction Order was served on Mrs. Beech. On that very day she posted additional words on her group Facebook page in terms which represent a flagrant breach of the court order. I read from the relevant posting which is exhibit 5 in my papers: “I have just had court papers handed me. I have been gagged until (the child’s name) is 18 years old. How can this be? They steal my granddaughter, then gag me. Fuck off. You have no chance. I am still fighting for her, you idiots. You cannot bully this nana. The truth hurts and no one will shut me up. I will go to war for my family, you idiots. Please spread the word”. These words were posted alongside photographs of the child and other words and slogans which had been posted long before the Injunction Order was granted. However, I find that by posting these additional words on 24th January 2014 alongside the photograph Mrs. Beech was republishing the old photograph and slogans and so her breach extends not only to the new words but to the old words and the old photograph.

 

Allegation number 2. On 28th January 2014 the B.B.C. website reported my Injunction Order in an article carefully drawn to avoid breaching the terms of the order itself. However, Mrs. Beech on her Facebook page posted a link to the B.B.C. report together with a short extract from it. She accompanied this posting with additional words of her own which constituted a flagrant breach of the Injunction Order. She posted “Just to let you know this is me, Amanda Jane Beech. It’s about my granddaughter (named). Staffordshire Social Services think they can bully me. The truth will be heard.”

 

Allegation number 3. On her Facebook page Mrs. Beech posted more words of flagrant breach, this time accompanied by a photograph. Mrs. Beech claims that the photograph could have been put up by someone else. She says that the photograph was already present on her Facebook page. She says that if another person clicked on the Facebook page to indicate they liked the contents the consequence would be that the photograph came up on this profile page automatically without any intervention on her part. The Facebook page does show that people had clicked the page to show that they liked it. Mrs. Beech raised the same point in relation to allegations 5, 9 and 11, saying in relation to these other allegations that the intervention of others explains the entire posting, not just the posting of the photograph, as she says it does for allegation 3. I have looked closely at these pages. No other name appears. On each occasion the posting appears under Mrs. Beech’s own name. With the exception of allegation number 5 each photograph follows a different form of words for which it is obvious to me that the grandmother, Mrs. Beech, is responsible.

 

She gave me rather inconsistent evidence about these allegations. She said that she did from time to time re-post material on the Facebook page in order to encourage her campaign. In this context she accepted that some of the postings might be her responsibility but some might be the responsibility of supporters. In the course of her evidence she said that the accompanying words appeared automatically from what she had already recorded herself on other parts of the page. However, on analysis the form of words is different for each of these postings, so I reject this explanation from Mrs. Beech. One of these allegations, allegation number 5, has no accompanying words and comprises just a photograph. However, this posting appears under Mrs. Beech’s name, just like the rest. I have heard her account. I am sure that she posted this and the other postings to encourage others to support her continuing campaign.

 

Allegation number 4. This allegation comprises clear words of breach which Mrs. Beech accepts that she posted on her Facebook page. There was no photograph with this posting.

 

Allegation number 5. I have dealt with allegation number 5 above.

 

Allegation number 6. This allegation comprises clear words of breach which Mrs. Beech accepts she posted on her Facebook page. Again, there is no photograph involved in this breach,

 

Allegation number 7 caused me a moment’s hesitation. This is Mrs. Beech’s Facebook group page. She accepts that she posted on this page a link to a YouTube recording. The new words do not constitute a breach of the terms of the injunction. However, these new words must be considered with the existing words to which they were linked so the effect is a re-publication of the words previously posted. Read together the words refer to the removal of Mrs. Beech’s grandchild into care which constitutes a breach of the injunction.

 

Allegation number 8. Mrs. Beech accepts that she posted the words and photograph which constitute this breach. She makes the point that the photograph was already on the web as part of an online petition that she started long before the Injunction Order was imposed. The local authority accept that the photograph is not new, but on this occasion by posting the link Mrs. Beech brought the old picture back onto her Facebook page again which constitutes a re-publication of the old picture in breach of the Injunction Order.

 

Allegation number 9. I have dealt with allegation 9 above when dealing with allegation number 3.

 

Allegation 10. Mrs. Beech accepts that she posted these words which clearly breached the terms of the Injunction Order. The reference to her partner, Mr. Rogers, is accepted by Mrs. Beech as a mistake. This was a publication to a closed group without a photograph.

 

Allegation number 11 has already been dealt with above when I was dealing with allegation number 3.

 

Overall then, all 11 allegations made by the local authority have been proved so that I am sure of the truth of the allegation and the fact that it infringes the terms of the injunction

 

 

It then adjourned, to give the grandmother the chance to reflect on this, and to get legal advice before the sentencing hearing.

 

At that sentencing hearing the grandmother accepted that she would comply with the injunction, take down those postings and not put up things of that sort in the future.

 

As a result, the Judge gave her a suspended sentence of 56 days, meaning that Ms Beech would not go to prison for her breaches unless she were to breach the order again (in which case the sentence of 56 days would take effect)

 

 

It does raise difficult questions, which I raised in part at the original report of the injunction. If a person campaigns on Facebook without naming their granddaughter, the step to indirect identification is a very short one. It is likely that within the rest of the grandmother’s facebook page are pictures and names of her family, and one could deduce fairly swiftly by the appearance of say “Rebecca” on those photos up until a year ago and then no more photos that it is “Rebecca” who was the child who was removed.

 

The provisions about directly identifying and indirectly identifying a child make decent sense for mainstream press – a newspaper reporting about a child and calling them “Child X” doesn’t identify the child.

 

Moreover, newspapers have editors, and lawyers. They can pause and consider whether they might be in breach of the law by any element of their story.

 

But we are now in a world where anyone with a mobile telephone can become their own publisher, and put things on the internet for all to see. It’s a whole new ball-game, and the law hasn’t quite caught up yet.

 

 

Ms Beech putting on Facebook “My granddaughter, who I can’t name, was stolen by social services” doesn’t directly identify the child, but it must be arguable that it indirectly identifies the child, because you can see that that the author of the post (who is named) is related to the child in question, and probably find on that page other photographs of the child. In a situation like that, proving whether someone made that indirect identification deliberately or by accident or lack of thought is very difficult, especially to the criminal standard of proof required.

 

 

 

 

[The original injunction judgment is here

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCC/Fam/2014/B1.html

 

and my post at the time about it is here

 

http://suesspiciousminds.com/2014/01/24/transparency-and-facebook/   ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

12 responses

  1. Ashamed to be British

    Message to social services as I am about to post this on her wall … For all your moaning about how stretched you are, lack of resources, understaffed and bogged down by case loads, you sure spend a lot of time nosing through people’s FaceBook accounts!
    All the time you are doing this you are ignoring those children who need removing from abusive families.

    What did you expect this family to do? Shake your hand and thank you for taking their most precious family member?

    To sum it up

    GET
    A
    GRIP

  2. forcedadoption

    A DISGRACEFUL crime by a disgraceful judge ! Clearly the judge had no power to grant the local authority such an injunction in the first place.A flagrant breach of the grandmother’s right to free expression,(article 10) censorship in peacetime ,and a flagrant breach of the right of both child and grandmother to enjoy a private family life undisturbed by public authority (article8).If granny had been an illegal immigrant and a suspected terrorist she would have had a swarm of politically correct QCs fighting for the privilege of protecting her rights.A non criminal grandmother whose grandchild has been legally abducted to feed the lucrative forced adoption industry should have the same right to publicly protest and search for the child as Dr McCann has had for the last five years searching for her missing child in Portugal.
    Of one thing I am certain (though I shall never live to see it).Future generations will look back at the UK family courts and the forced adoption industry of today with the same disgust that we now look back on ,at the way uk children were treated in the time of Charles Dickens;

    • Ashamed to be British

      Exactly, my post was very angry.

      I know this mum, the child is a VERY pretty, blue eyed blond haired little girl, perfect adoption material, and I can confirm right now, NOT everything posted was Mrs Beech’s doing, far from it, ss cherry picked what they wanted the judge to see

    • Ian, I understand your view – the Judge does of course have that power, it is very well-established. If you are arguing that the Court and State should NOT have that power, that’s a legitimate argument to be had (and many might agree with you), but it is just not accurate to claim that he does not have the power.

      • forcedadoption

        Andrew, no you don’t actually understand my view.I was trying to point out that no judge has the legal power to flagrantly overide or ignore the human rights act,especially those clauses guaranteeing a family life undisturbed by public authority andalso freedom of expression..I know there are get out exception clauses “national security,rights of others,welfare and morals etc etc” but judges only use these exceptions to gag parents but ignore them when allowing illegal immigrants /suspected terrorists etc to stay in Britain and preach jihad with little restriction !No gagging orders for them! Gagging is only for parents and grandparents whose children have been brutally snatched by the State to feed the forced adoption industry.The human rights act designed to protect individuals from the State has been turned on its head by perverse judges to protect the State from criticism by its own citizens !! Gagging PARENTS just did not exist in the uk until well after world war 2.

      • forcedadoption

        Andrew, I also notice that you do not quote the specific clause of any specific statute giving any judge the power to gag uk citizens when national security is not involved;There is in practice precious little difference between courts established by Stalin from those created by Hitler but slowly our family courts are moving towards the same way of operating as those two models……………..

  3. That judge is on social services side he was the one who refused my 1st appeal for r order then he put the order on me in jan 2014 the I was in front of him again for breach in April 2014 my daughter was in front of him to stop the adoption order he took 3 days out then dismissed it then let the adoptee apply the day after RCJ dismissed the appeal all rushed up and then I was in front of him for sentencing then few weeks later the adoption hearing was agreed in front of the same judge
    But he told me that what stafford social services did placing my granddaughter by mistake was all water under the bridge and they have learned by the mistake and been retrained so that it never happens again and I was lucky to get a letter of apology has if I will not give up I applied to ECHR in December and have had paper work back just waiting on a date

    [Suesspicious Minds note – I did look at this comment carefully, but in light of the judgment, Ms Beech is entitled to criticise the system and those involved in it, as long as she complies with the order, so have posted it up in full]

  4. I’ve had my own personal image taken from Facebook and found it posted elsewhere with different captions written on in. (Luckily I like it so I actually posted it ) but I’ve also had other post to my page. (It’s PUBLIC) to determine she had created these posts are just out of sheer ignorance. Maybe while cps is so busy monitoring people’s pages instead of doing their jobs they can take the time to educate themselves on the cans and can nots on the social media sites, the capabilities of other people’s devices and don’t forget the intelligence of the people out there trolling through them.

  5. Time for root and branch reform;
    How are stone-age emergency child-protection powers compatible with living in the internet-age?

  6. stella aka toni macleod

    What a load of idiotic rubbish

    Let’s say the grand child for arguments sake we will name her Candice had her picture posted by me because I felt the injustice to Amanda her grand mother and her mother was wrong and I passed comments and named her family whom share her surname and had a picture of her I would be identifying her yet what harm would it cause her ????

    Was it not re h (a minor) fam 89 106 ward lj who said ……..

    Every child has the right to know the truth unless his welfare clearly justifies the cover up

    So if that is the case then why shouldnt Amanda’s grand child be allowed when she’s older to know her family loved and wanted her ( I would welcome Amanda to contact me I think I know a loop hole round this one n sorry to randomly name but I hate peoples angels just being branded the child or the baby grrr )

    Stella xxxx ;-)

  7. Ms Beech doesn’t really need to post anything because what has been posted and referred to previously has been shared a million times over anyway. It’s a case of stable doors and horses :)

  8. Pingback: Rhubarb* and custody | Children In Law | Scoop...

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