I wrote recently about Mr Narey’s speech to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. He has put up a response to my response.
In order to stop us getting into an infinite regress of responses to responses, I won’t do a detailed reply.
Here is his response
Very very quick points
1. He didn’t have to do a response – I’m a very tiny fish and he swims in a proper pond with proper grown-up fish (and maybe some sharks), so respect to him for taking the time. And he did it with flair and humour, so fair play to him.
2. I think that we probably agree about more than you might think (Adoption is the right outcome for some children, and if people are interpreting the case law of the last two years to mean that adoption is never right for any child, they’re wrong; and if the Court does make a Placement Order it is a disgrace for children to wait so long for a family and that needs fixing)
3. I don’t think we’ll agree on what the law of the last two years is actually saying, but that’s okay. Probably if you put ten lawyers in a room and ask them something you’d get eleven different opinions.
4. I think he accidentally puts a ‘not’ in when he’s quoting me here :- a lawyers’ job is to give advice but take instructions.
5. I’m of course not privy to the conversations and discussions that have taken place between Mr Narey and the President. Those things are between themselves. I can only go on what the President has said in public, and there are two major sources there – firstly, his press conference where he accepted that there was a tension between the line the judiciary were taking on adoption (emphasising the nothing else will do) and the line that the Government was taking (emphasising that adoption should not be seen as a last resort) leaving Local Authorities caught in the middle and secondly his coda to Re R which can only be read as saying that the judiciary were not endorsing the Myth-Busting document.
I would genuinely like his views on the decisions since December 2014 that have moved children from prospective adopters to members of the birth family. Those are unprecedented developments, and I find it hard to think that it is coincidence that we had no such judgments from 1976 to December 2014 and four since then. I do honestly worry about these decisions. I think that it puts prospective adopters in a scenario that they never ever wanted to be in – a court battle fighting about where a child should live; it puts the child in a dreadful situation where they have been settled into a new home and then moved, and it puts the family in a position where the child has been placed with adopters and then returns to them and nobody can really predict the longer term impact or what support they need. I’ve represented prospective adopters in my time, and the idea of Court always terrified them, even when you were able to reassure them that no Judge was ever going to take the child away from them.