This is a case decided by a Circuit Judge, so not binding precedent, but it is both sad and unusual .
Re C (A child) 2015
In this case, care proceedings were taking place and the mother was with the baby in a foster placement. A major issue was whether the father presented a risk to the mother and to the baby as a result of serious allegations (and convictions) of sexual harm perpetrated by him to adults. There had been assessments during the proceedings and the Local Authority felt that mother was moving forward and was willing to make changes and asked the Court for more time to assess her further before a final decision was made (to give her time to make those changes). They actually asked for longer time than the Court was willing to give, but more time was given.
- The Local Authority were due to file their final evidence and care plan by the 22nd July. However in the light of the report from the independent Social Worker and from their own observations from the good parenting that this mother could offer to her child the Local Authority came to the issues resolution hearing on the 31st July with a plan of further work to be undertaken with the mother as recommended by the independent social worker.
They asked for an adjournment for several further months ( into 2016) to enable that work to be successfully undertaken. The Guardian was against that work being undertaken at all as she considered it to be outside the timescales for the baby and her own assessment was that the mother would not be able to parent this child.
However the Court considered, having regard to the positive changes that the mother appeared to have made which included that she had separated from the father and now wished to be a sole carer for her son that it was appropriate for there to be a further period of time given to enable the mother to evidence change and a real understanding of the risks that not only the father posed but that would protect her from manipulation or control from other like minded men in the future.
- Accordingly the Court approved a package of work to be provided to the mother. This included a requirement for the mother not to communicate with the father and to obviously undertake the work recommended and to attend all of the appointments. In order for the Local Authority to be satisfied that the mother was not contacting or had not contacted the father and that she was truely separated from him she readily agreed for her telephone records from her mobile number and her Facebook pages to be made available to the Local Authority.
- It was also positive that despite the conclusions of the psychological report on the father that he had taken the report to his GP who had recommended that he should first undertake a course with BARST and that once he had concluded that work then there would be a referral back to his GP to consider work to address his issues.
- It therefore seemed to the Court on that occasion that the father was for the first time taking a real step to understand that his sexual behaviour was inappropriate and that it needed to be addressed and that coupled with the separation of the parents and the mother’s positive parenting that it did in the Court’s view mean that there could be a really positive outcome to this case and the child could remain being successfully brought up by the mother in the long-term. The court did not approve the timescale proposed by the authority , and required them to come to a final decision as to their care plan for this child ( informed by the engagement and progress the mother made in the intervening period) by the 2 nd October.
Just days afterwards though , the mother sent the following email to the Local Authority lawyer (or the lawyer’s assistant)
“Hi ( legal assistant ) I know I shouldn’t be emailing you but I need to tell the truth. The Local Authority want me to do a course with (therapist) but I will never admit that (father) is a risk so saying that I’d wish to be taken home and (son )to go up for adoption. As much as I love my little boy I don’t want to waste the LA’s time I want (son) to be settled I don’t want this to be delayed any longer. They all want me to be honest and I am being honest, I have spoken to (foster carer) and have spoken to a lot of people who think I’m stupid but this is my decision and I wish to go.”
The case was taken back to Court and both the mother and father, having had long discussions with their lawyers, confirmed that this was their position, that the child should be adopted and that they would consent to the making of a Care Order and Placement Order.
The Local Authority having not been considering a plan of adoption for this child were taken aback, and the case had not gone to their Agency Decision Maker (who is the person who has to approve any request for the making of a Placement Order)
Therefore, as a matter of law, the parents were consenting to an order where the LA were not actually able to apply for that order, and the case couldn’t be finished on that date as the parents had hoped. There was a short delay to allow that to be done.
In this case, the paternal grandfather was very actively campaigning about family justice and injustices in this case
The assessments were being undertaken by the Local Authority against the backdrop of an abusive and cowardly campaign by the paternal grandfather on Facebook which has persisted throughout the course of these proceedings. He has made wild unproven claims against the particular Social Workers and the Local Authority generally and against this Court. It was clear from the hearing on the 14th August that the father shares his fathers views.
The campaign has included continued allegations of perjury and that the perjury in the Secret Family Court is to traffic children for money.
All of the Social Workers who have been involved in either child’s case have been named in Facebook pages and described as: “pathological paid liar”, “lying entrapment scumbag”, “paid liar assessor”, “paid liar”. All are described in this list as “baby/child traffickers who are operating in Southampton”. Facebook entries state they were trying to steal his granddaughter and worked ‘for a child trafficking organisation called the Local Authority’. The grandfather has also recommended that facebook users check out the social workers ‘friends list and you will see the child trafficking social workers on there, talk about conspiracies, the evil baby stealing bastards’.
It is worth noting that the grandfather had not actually applied to Court to be a party or to play any role in the proceedings or to put himself forward as a carer.
The Judge said this, in conclusion
- In this case both parents not only do not oppose the making of the Care and Placement Orders, they positively consent to them. That in itself is a highly unusual state of affairs. It is highly unusual for parents to actively consent to the making of such orders rather than simply not opposing them.
- There therefore is a concluded position between the Local Authority, the Guardian, and both parents that this child should be made subject to a Care Order and should be placed for adoption.
- It is a sad outcome for this child. The social workers in this case have gone the extra mile to support this mother in caring for her child. They have done that against the backdrop of persistent allegations and abuse from the paternal family, They have however remained professional throughout and have remained focused on trying to support this mother in caring for her child. It is important that is recorded. It was not their decision to separate this child from her baby, it was the mothers choice, supported by the father.
- This was an outcome that was predicted by the risk assessment that was undertaken by the psychologist. But it is still in my judgment right that that opportunity was given to this mother to care for her child. Sadly in this case the mother has chosen her relationship with the father above her relationship with her child.
- She has chosen to disregard everything that has been written about the father and the sexual risk that he poses to her and has chosen to remain in that relationship. This case could have had a very different outcome had the mother been able to understand that.Neither parent, nor any member of either the paternal or maternal family have given to this court any other options as to who could care for this child, realistic or otherwise to consider.
No one from either family has applied during these proceedings to be assessed as a carer or to be joined as a party. Given the campaign being pursued by the paternal family that is surprising to say the least.
- In the circumstances for the reasons given there are no other orders that this Court can make other than the orders that all parties invite the Court to make and that is the making of the Care and Placement Orders and therefore with the consent of all parties those are the orders that I make. There is nothing else that I can do.