This will now be the fourth time I’ve written about this particular case, you may recall that it involves a family whose relationship with their daughter broke down and she came into care voluntarily as a result of being beyond parental control. The parents obtained a judgment in which the Court found that their complaints of being treated badly by the LA and being marginalised and excluded were made out, though the Court went on to make a Care Order believing that the better option of wardship was barred to them.
The Court of Appeal then ruled that it wasn’t and wardship was made.
The parents were then asking the Court whether they could speak out in public about the case – providing that they did nothing to give away the identity of themselves and the child.
(You may remember, it was my clunky Batman analogy – the parents wanted to say in their interviews that the published judgments were about them, using the alias in the published judgments but not give their real name – i.e they could say “I’m Batman” but not “I’m Bruce Wayne, and I am also Batman”)
Okay, so the Court now finally have said that they can indeed say “I’m Batman” – their faces would need to be either silouhetted or pixellated but they don’t need voice-changing technology. I think it is important for family justice that in a case where the Court have found that the State got things wrong, that this gets properly aired, and those concerned ought to be able to tell their story, so I think it is a good thing. (unlike Re J, where there was not yet any published context to ascertain whether the parents huge sense of injustice and aggrievement was justified by bad treatment as opposed to being a natural human reaction)
There’s even a fifth judgment, which deals in part with the wrangle that the parents had to obtain the therapy that their daughter so clearly needed. If you have seen the title of the case and got excited that it is a ‘compelling the LA to fund therapy’ case, it isn’t. Firstly this is wardship, and secondly the LA had agreed to be bound by the Court’s views – it was about who was to provide that therapy (the organisation supported by the psychologist and parents, or the one supported by the LA), the LA lost that argument too, but to their credit agreed to be bound rather than sheltering behind technical arguments about the court’s powers.
Having played a microscopic part in all of this, I am very pleased for these parents, who have had a long and gruelling journey to get justice and the help that their daughter so badly needs and have finally done so. I hope that some of the principles they have fought for may help others.
And in a final flourish – Bale is amazing, obviously, but against all the odds, wimpy Michael Keaton delivers THE line better than anyone could have expected.