I don’t know that this one needs a lot of introduction – it was national, if not international, news in December (although the facts were rather different to the media reports).
This is the judgment from the adoption hearing, which was the last stage left. It was allocated to the President of the Family Division, a judge who has not been afraid to grant leave to oppose (indeed his lead judgment in Re B-S on that very point was the decision that led to such changes)
Re P (A child) 2014
You may remember from all of the press reports at the time that mother now had solicitors and was going to fight for her child back. That has not materialised. As the President says :-
- As of 1 April 2014 the position remained as it had been on 17 December 2013. Despite what had been said in the correspondence from Brendan Fleming and Dawson Cornwell in December 2013, no application of any kind had been made on behalf of either the mother or the Italian authorities, whether to the Court of Protection, the Chelmsford County Court or the Family Division, nor had any application been made to the Court of Appeal. In particular, it is to be noted, neither the mother, nor for that matter the father, had made any application in accordance with section 47(5) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 for leave to oppose the making of an adoption order.
To be fair to them, getting public funding for a leave to oppose adoption application isn’t easy (though I have seen determined solicitors get it on a much less contentious case than this one, and of course if one is deeply committed to the cause there is always pro bono option – for example, the mother in the Re B-S case didn’t have legal aid and her lawyers did the work for free)
The Judge sets out quite a lot of the email and correspondence between the Local Authority and the mother about this hearing and the chance to express her views
- The email notifying the mother of the hearing was sent to her on 7 March 2014. A follow up email was sent on 12 March 2014. The mother responded by email later the same day:
“Dear Lynne thank you for your email I don’t have an advocate and unfortunately I will not able to attend Court, I received all the paperwork that you mailed to the adresse. Thank you very much”
Essex County Council replied by email on 13 March 2014:
“Many thanks Allesandra.
Would you wish to express your view via an email which we can present to the Court on your behalf?
There was no response, so Essex County Council emailed again on 27 March 2014:
“Alessandra – I just wish to remind you that the hearing in respect of [P] will be on Tuesday 1st April.
I know that you are unable to attend the hearing, but as previously stated, if there is anything that you wish the Court to know about your views on the proposed adoption then please email me by Monday 3 p.m. so I can ensure your views are available to the Court.””
The final email from the mother arrived on 28 March 2014:
I wish for my daughter the best. Me personally I am trying to forget this bad experience I had in England. I love my daughter with all my heart and I pray to see her one day again.”
With that in mind, it is not a surprise that the President went on to make the adoption order, as there was no challenge to it. Obviously this is a sad case, as all adoptions are. Perhaps the mother had given up hope, perhaps she thought that she would have no chance of success, perhaps she just wasn’t in a place where a fight was something she could manage. I feel for her. Less for some of the journalists who high-jacked her tragedy to make cheap and inaccurate points.
I suspect that this judgment won’t get the publicity that the shrill allegations got back in December.