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I’m off to a meeting with my social worker…at 3am..with all of my possessions


A committal hearing in relation to a grandfather

London Borough of Harrow v Afzal and Others 2014

I try to write on all committal hearings, not because each of them necessarily has a new key bit of law, but because I think that sending someone to prison for breaching a court order is a big deal, and that it is also important that people who might find themselves in this grandfather’s position can see what the consequences might be.  

I try, when I can, not to argue in articles on committal whether the decision was right or wrong. I will leave that to others. The important thing, for me, is that people in this position know that breaching court orders can result in imprisonment, and that they make their decisions on an informed basis.

In this case, both parents had a long history of drug misuse, and the arrangement for the care of the baby was that the mother and baby would live at the home of the maternal grandparents, it being believed that the grandparents would act protectively and make sure that the baby was not exposed to harm.

On 16th January, the mother left the grandparents home. The father came to collect her in a car. The grandfather helped carry  the baby buggy into the car. All of mother’s possessions were loaded into suitcases and taken in the car. This was all at 3.00am.

The grandfather’s evidence to the Court was that the mother had told him that she was going to a meeting with her social worker and that he had believed her.

The family Court made an order on 24th January 2014, containing these provisions :-

the grandparents should take all steps within their control to ensure that Farah is returned immediately to the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

  • Further, that they must immediately on service of this order provide to the London Borough of Harrow Social Services Department all information relating to the whereabouts of the child, Farah, which is presently within his or her knowledge or control. Further, during the period that this order remains in force, each of them must provide all information relating to the whereabouts of the child to the Local Authority where it comes into his or her possession and control after service of this order as soon as is practicable after receipt of the information 

After that hearing evidence came to light that later that day 24th January, the grandfather sent money to his daughter, £500, to Barcelona in Spain. On 30th January, the grandmother sent a further £500 to her daughter in Barcelona.

The idea that this grandfather would be told by his daughter that they were visiting social workers at three o’clock in the morning is utterly absurd and totally incredible, and I conclude that the grandfather is lying. I asked him why, when given that alleged explanation, he did not ask his daughter why they were taking the baby with them at three o’clock in the morning. He could not answer, despite being given repeated opportunities to do so.

I have found the grandfather to lie on many material aspects. He claims not to recall, or be confused about, the events of 16 January and other occasions. Again, I do not believe him. I do not believe that this grandfather would not clearly remember the events of 16 January. Given my findings in respect of the grandfather and his evidence, I consider him to be a totally unreliable witness and to be a dishonest one. He has lied to me repeatedly on serious matters. I ask myself rhetorically: what reasons might he have for lying? There is, in my judgment, only one reason why he is lying, and that is to protect his daughter and to prevent their whereabouts being discovered and, most importantly of all, the baby, Farah, being returned to this jurisdiction. I am satisfied so that I am sure that the grandfather is lying. I am satisfied so that I am sure that he knows the location of the mother, the father and the child. I am satisfied so that I am sure that he is withholding highly material evidence from this court. Accordingly, I have not the slightest hesitation in finding him to be in contempt of court. That is my judgment.


The sentence for contempt was 28 days imprisonment, with an indication that the grandfather would be likely to serve 14 days.

About suesspiciousminds

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

7 responses

  1. If you break the law, especially knowingly and or willing then there must be consequence. In all honesty 14 days isn’t all that harsh of a sentence, knowing that 2yrs is I believe the maximum as evidence by a recent court case involving an Egyptian man refusing to give the whereabouts of his children to the court. [2013] EWHC 4152 (Fam).

  2. Let him serve two weeks, or four if need be, or as long as it takes. In the grand scheme of things it is a small price to protect his grandchild from British secret injustice.

    Is there an address that we can send money to this man, it sounds like he and his relatives may need some?

  3. Ashamed to be British

    And I, as a grandparent would do the same to keep my grandchildren safe from what is the most corrupt and dishonest profession in the land.

    I take my hat off to him

    Let it now be seen, that when it is proven that social workers, guardian and expert witnesses are lying to the court, they also serve the same sentence, equality and diversity and all that

    • If they are indeed lying then yes they should have the full weight of the law thrown behind their prosecution.

      • They may have been lying. But there is no chance whatever that it will ever be proven. They would have to volunteer secret damning evidence and who is going to do that?

        Sadly, the result is that the social services and family court command ever less respect and ordinary people will assume the worst unless moral motivation on their part can be proved. They can expect an attitude of “Go away, I nothing to say!” from everyday folks and have brought this on themselves by operating in secrecy.

  4. Pingback: I'm off to a meeting with my social

  5. I see they are still bullying the grandmother as of 18Feb2014. What is to be gained by imprisoning an old woman? Except to prove that the is apparently no limit to the amount of money London Borough of Harrow is willing to throw away. Another good Daily Mail story here.

    Family Division Daily Cause List
    Cause list Tuesday, 18 February 2014
    Court 41
    Tuesday, 18 February, 2014
    At 10:30 AM
    Applications in Court as in Chambers

    Afzal, Nazma Raul and Ali Rasul in accordance with and for alleged breach of an order made by Mrs Justice Russell on the 24 January 2014. FD14P00078.

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