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This is not a new topic, but it bears repeating.


Please don’t use the word ‘disclosure’ when the word ‘said’  or ‘alleged’ would do better.

AS v TH (False Allegations of Abuse) [2016] EWHC 532 (Fam) (11 March 2016) 


[33] … despite the fact that the use of the term ‘disclosure’ to describe a statement or allegation of abuse made by a child has been deprecated since the Cleveland Report due to it precluding the notion that the abuse might not have occurred (see para 12.34(1)), every professional who gave evidence in this case (except the Children’s Guardian) used the term ‘disclosure’ to describe what the children had said to them).


Disclose means to make known, to cause to appear, to allow to be seen.  It has the connotation of truth.  Whether you believe the allegation or not, until the Court has determined it, it is an allegation not a disclosure. I understand why social workers might feel uncomfortable about saying ‘alleged’ but ‘said’ or ‘told’ conveys perfectly well that the child SAID X, without giving a value judgment of ‘and X is true’


By way of concrete example, I can DISCLOSE to you that I think Natalie Portman is a fine looking woman.  If, however, I tell you that I had a relationship with Natalie Portman and that she initiated it, you can’t properly say that I DISCLOSED that to you.   That’s an allegation, not a disclosure.  It might be true, it might not be.  (It is not)

But if I tell you that, you’d be wrong to say I disclosed it to you.  Stick with ‘said’


Example pulled out of thin air.


If you want to do one small thing to improve your written work, a find/replace on disclose / disclosure is a good start.  Hint, if you are not using the word ‘disclosure’ in a Court document to mean ‘a bunch of documents provided by someone’ just find a replacement word.    This is not just social workers, a random trawl on Bailii found me a dozen examples of the very best and brightest of our judiciary using it in judgments. Old habits die hard.


For further reading, I recommend


Things children say – Disclosure, allegations and why language matters




About suesspiciousminds

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

5 responses

  1. I can “disclose” that social workers and their allies have no regard for the truth and make allegations in court presented as facts in order to win their cases.
    After all the only way they can win is to make sure the parents lose ! I do wish more parents would realise this………..

    • shirley buckley

      Ian I realised 20 years ago that social workers and their allies lied continually and without fear of even being challenged. This is in the CoP. For your interest try reading Cop MB v Surrey CC judgments Judge Parry Cardiff 4th August and 16 October 2017. When I first appeared in Court in November 2006 before the MCA Surrey CC put in 489 pages of “allegations” against me, all total fabrications. In October 2007 (under the MCA) Judge Charles put a penal notice on me. This is not quite relevant to the original subject but just to let you know I did realise that they lied, and also that I was powerless to challenge them

  2. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “o) S was removed from Scotland by their mother on 11 August 2014 without the consent of TH and was in breach of orders made by the Sheriffs Court on 12, 15 and 28 August 2014.

    p) The mother has told lies to professionals. Those lies were aimed at preventing the return of S to the care of his father, protecting the mother from compliance with the lawful orders made by the Scottish court and preventing professionals discovering that the mother had told lies.

    q) In consequence of the findings set out above, the N and S have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of the care given to them by their mother.

    r) In attempting act in compliance with orders made by the Sheriff’s Court in Scotland TH has acted only to secure the lawful return of S.

    Note 1 The Office of the Procurator Fiscal has now indicated that the criminal charges against TH will not be pursued. [Back]

    Note 2 On 2 March 2016 I received a letter from the solicitor acting on behalf of the mother informing me that the mother had been assaulted and threatened by ER at her home on 20 February 2015. The letter stated that ER had been arrested and charged in relation to the incident. N and S were in the property at the time.”

  3. ashamedtobebritish

    Wouldn’t the court just say it’s hearsay if you say ‘they said’?

    • The vast majority of it is hearsay…

      So much harm is done in family courts on the basis of opinions and not facts.

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