This is Christopher Booker’s latest column
There is not a judgment up yet, that would allow me to give you an account of what has happened from someone who has heard both sides of the case, rather than just one side. I will keep an eye out.
The column does have the usual Booker hallmarks – the account provided by a single source, the cosying up to the President of the Family Division as being the only person who is trying to put things right, his habit as a ‘journalist’ of confusing making an argument with simply putting words in quotation marks to show his contempt for them, his misunderstanding of many basic legal principles, and his unappealing habit of throwing the Judge’s first name around like confetti – I imagine this is done to belittle them and diminish respect for them. It is a cheap shot.
It still surprises me, though it really shouldn’t after all this time, that when there is a Court case where the Judge actually uncovers the sort of dark dealings by social workers or a cock-up or mistake by professionals that led to children being wrongly separated from families, Booker is always silent. Where are his columns on Al Alas Wray, on the foster carer who used racially abusive language to the mother, on the mother who wasn’t told for six months that whilst she’d been in a hospital having mental health treatment that social workers had taken the child away from the neighbours she’d left them with, on the Hampshire case from last week?
There are genuine scandals that happen in family Courts – appeal Courts showing why less senior Judges had made mistakes or had not been fair, Circuit Judges uncovering wrong-doing or errors or even conspiracies involving lying to the Court. They do happen – you’d be a fool to say that they didn’t. And maybe those uncovered cases are the tip of the iceberg, and it is right for journalists applying the usual codes of practice that govern journalism to dig and investigate and bring them into the light. I’ve no problem at all with a journalist attacking the system and wanting to reform it. But if you were a columnist crusading for reform of the family justice system, why wouldn’t you be interested in writing about these cases where the facts absolutely demonstrate that there had been something rotten in the State of Denmark? They aren’t conspiracy theories, they are facts.
I’d welcome a column from Booker on the Hampshire case – it deserves attention, he’s a ‘journalist’, he’s angry about social work corruption and bad practice – he’s a good person to write the story.
Note to Ian from Forced Adoption – I am sure that you can give me and other readers chapter and verse on the background to this column. Please don’t. I’ll read it from the Judge who heard both sides of the story rather than just one. Perhaps the Judge still got it wrong, people are only human, but I do think that hearing both sides doesn’t half give you an advantage before reaching a conclusion.
As ever, if I read the reported judgment and it shows that Mr Booker is factually correct in the substance of his claims, I will let you all know. (I haven’t had to do that in four years of running the blog and checking Mr Booker’s reports of dire misdeeds against the actual judgments, but there’s always a first time). Equally, if I think that the reported judgment shows that mistakes were made or that those involved were treated badly, I’ll say so. I ran stories on Al Alas Wray, on the foster carer who used racially abusive language to the mother, on the section 20 abuses, on the Hampshire case where social workers lied, and sadly I think that I’ll have to run similar cases in the future. But I show the readers where my source comes from, and they are free to read that source for themselves and reach their own conclusions.