- Kathleen Danby’s granddaughter Janine is forced to live in care home
- She ran away to Kathleen, 75, but was made to return to the home
- Kathleen jailed for three months in 2014 after caught hugging Janine
- She now faces further investigation after her granddaughter stayed over
Published: 14 August 2016
She was eating her favourite meals, sleeping in her own bedroom, and hoping for a job at a wildlife sanctuary in an idyllic corner of Britain where her grandmother has a family house.
It was a fresh start for Janine, who for the past two years has been forced by a shadowy English court to live in a supervised care home where, according to her and her grandmother, she ‘does nothing but sleep or watch videos’ and feels ‘like a prisoner’.
Kathleen said she was prepared to go to prison again, as she awaits investigation over rescuing her granddaughter from Crewe
Kathleen Danby is pictured here with her grandchildren, whose faces are obscured for legal reasons
Ten days ago, Janine decided enough was enough. She ran away from the home in the Midlands and took a train to Crewe.
Then, standing alone on the station platform, she rang her grandmother for help.
‘My granddaughter said she could not bear the home any more,’ diminutive Mrs Danby, a 74-year-old pensioner, told me yesterday.
‘She had hidden in the toilet on the train to get to Crewe because she did not have the money for a ticket. She was penniless and wandering around one of the busiest rail stations in the country.
‘Of course I helped her. She is my granddaughter, and I love her.
‘I rang a local hotel in Crewe and paid for her to have a room for the night. I said stay there until I can get to you.
‘I live in the Scottish islands, so it took until the next day for me to arrive there. Then I brought her back with me.’
But this act of kindness has landed the grandmother in hot water. Bizarre though it sounds, there is a court order banning all contact between her and her granddaughter.
In 2014, Mrs Danby made national headlines when she was imprisoned simply for hugging Janine when, while visiting friends, she met her granddaughter by chance in the city where the girl lives.
Mrs Danby was sent to prison by the secretive Court of Protection, which has draconian powers to make far-reaching rulings about almost every aspect of a citizen’s life, and often their relatives’ lives, too.
Pictured, Kathleen Danby talks outside court after being arrested for contacting her granddaughter in 2014
The Family Court judges presiding over it can compel people to undergo surgery, use contraception, or have abortions. They can decide if a life support system is switched off, where a person lives — and with whom — whether a marriage is annulled, and whether a last will and testament is torn up.
Just as controversially, the court’s judges can put someone in a hospital or a care home for as long as the State deems it to be in their ‘best interests’. In other words, the life of that person, who may be mentally impaired, vulnerable, or simply old, is under the control of the court — and woe betide the relative who tries to break the rules imposed by the judges.
Plenty of people who have done so have been sent to prison for contempt of court. Which is why grey-haired Mrs Danby, a former secretary, is now facing the threat of prison for a second time.
The real scandal here is that we still don’t know — and never will — quite why the court placed such a draconian order on Janine and her family. Clearly, the judge may know things we don’t, which would explain their decisions.
But on the face of it, Mrs Danby is an utterly sympathetic woman, which makes this legal straitjacket all the more mystifying.
As she said yesterday: ‘I was scared for my granddaughter when she called me from Crewe.
‘She was highly delighted when I found her. What grandmother would turn her back on their grandchild in those circumstances?’
Kathleen Danby smiles as she shares an embrace with her grandchildren on a family day out
But the reunion between the pair lasted only a few days. After Janine was rescued by Mrs Danby, the local police, alerted by staff at the supervised home from where the girl had gone missing and who knew where Kathleen Danby lives, made a visit to ask if she was safe and well.
Janine responded: ‘I’m fine. I’m happy,’ and the officers went away, content, apparently, that the girl was telling the truth.
Yet last Wednesday, as the two walked down the main street of Mrs Danby’s small town after shopping and having lunch at the local garden centre, they were confronted by two male social workers from Janine’s supervised accommodation.
They had flown up there and proceeded to tell Janine she must leave her grandmother, and her father (Mrs Danby’s son), who lives nearby, and return to the supervised care home.
Mrs Danby says: ‘Janine saw them first. She recognised the two men. She began crying and trying to hide behind me. In such a small place, everyone was watching the fuss going on.’
The local police were called in again — this time to help corral the girl. They put Janine in a car and drove her to the airport. The two social workers then took her back to the Midlands.
‘I begged them not to take her,’ says Mrs Danby. ‘Janine was beside herself, but they wouldn’t listen. They said they had a court order and that was that.
‘It was the end of our happy time together, and I’m sure she is distraught. I am certain she will run away again.’
I begged them not to take her
The astonishingly resilient Mrs Danby, who has no criminal record, first collided head-on with the Court of Protection over Janine’s care two years ago.
On a Sunday night, within minutes of taking her seat at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to watch Ken Dodd, she was told by the doorman that there was someone to see her. She went outside and found two police officers, who arrested her.
Unbeknown to Mrs Danby, she had been sentenced in her absence to three months in prison for embracing her granddaughter.
Social workers had been tipped off that the two had met, and then went through street CCTV film until they found the scene of the two hugging. They then reported the grandmother to the Court of Protection for breaching the no-contact order.
After her arrest, Mrs Danby was forced to spend two nights in prison and one in a police cell, before being taken before a court in handcuffs, flanked by four security guards. She was eventually released.
In an interview with the Mail afterwards, she told how she had been left terrified, and suffered bruises and cuts when she was manhandled by police officers. She had been deprived of sleep and food, refused access to a lawyer and barred from calling her son during her three days in custody.
Astonishingly, police officers and prison guards even refused to allow her to take the daily medicine she needs to combat liver disease.
‘By the end of my ordeal I felt shattered and very weak,’ she said, adding: ‘My first cell wasn’t fit for a dog — let alone a grandmother. They took away my belt, shoes and coat. It was really rough in there.’
Kathleen was sent to Foston Hall women’s prison (pictured) in Derbyshire after she breached the no-contact order and hugged her granddaughter
She found herself in Foston Hall women’s prison in Derbyshire, whose former inmates include Ian Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr, and Karen Matthews, who kidnapped her own daughter Shannon.
‘When I told a guard I was in jail for hugging my granddaughter, his jaw dropped in open-mouthed amazement. He was astonished and horrified.’
She was only freed by a judge and her sentence quashed when she apologised. Her Honour Judge Dowding said: ‘I am not here today to change the decision of the previous court. I am here to allow her the chance to purge her contempt [of court]. I am satisfied she understands the orders now.’
This sorry saga once again raises serious questions about the Court of Protection, which operates largely in secret and rarely explains the decisions it reaches to members of the public.
Mrs Danby and her son had been restricted to talking to Janine on the phone only once a month and at a set time, with social workers listening in to the conversation. Since Mrs Danby’s imprisonment, they have not been allowed to phone the girl at all.
The reason for this is that the court says Mrs Danby has a ‘detrimental affect’ on her grandaughter’s behaviour and, apparently, the girl gets upset when she has to say goodbye to her.
How has such an un-British approach to justice been allowed to flourish in this day and age?
Of course vulnerable children and adults need to be protected, but surely the public has a right to know what decisions are being made by courts in our name.
At the centre of this case is a clearly unhappy young woman. She is said by social workers, who have been responsible for her education and welfare since 2007, to have a learning disability, although Mrs Danby disputes this diagnosis. She feels Janine is a victim of a poor education in the care system, is now bored to tears, and would have a bright future if she returned to live with her.
During her recent week of freedom, the girl applied for a job at an animal shelter, getting a positive response.
Janine, whose name we have changed to protect her identity because of strict Court of Protection secrecy rules, was first put into social services’ care aged ten.
At the time, it had been agreed she would live with her father and grandmother in Scotland after her parents had split up. (Today, Janine’s mother lives in England and her daughter is allowed to visit her, but she cannot move in with her permanently either.)
Mrs Danby says social workers first swooped on Janine on ‘spurious grounds’ — involving Janine’s father verbally reprimanding his daughter in public for bad behaviour. She has never been returned to the family.
She has no life and no future. I don’t know why they don’t let her go.
‘She thrived before that,’ says Mrs Danby. ‘She was going to school, reading books and loving them. She wants to come back to us up here.
‘She says she has nothing to do all day at the place the Court of Protection and social services have put her. She feels like a prisoner and lies on her bed watching videos all day. She has no life and no future. I don’t know why they don’t let her go.’
Before Janine was taken back to the supervised care home last Wednesday, she told the Mail: ‘I’ve been miserable. No one there looks after me.
‘All they are interested in is keeping me locked away from my family. When I saw my chance to run through an open door, I went for it.’
Indeed, on Thursday night Janine ran away again and was found wandering the streets by police who returned her to the home.
Last night, John Hemming, a former Liberal Democrat MP who campaigns for family justice, said: ‘Janine is a secret prisoner of the Court of Protection. She is being treated cruelly.
‘It is clear she has been sentenced, for no apparent reason, to a life of tedium, and her physical health is suffering.
John Hemming (pictured), a former Liberal Democrat MP, said Janine was being treated ‘cruelly’ in the care home
‘A couple of months ago, she wrote and invited me to visit her. I asked her local council social services for permission, as I have to do. I have never had an answer from them. Somehow, she needs to be rescued.
‘I think the Court of Protection believes Janine is made upset when she meets her grandmother, and then has to say goodbye. That is no reason to incarcerate her.
‘She should have an independent assessment of her learning disability, if it exists. This girl’s life is being controlled by the State for no good reason, and it must stop.’
As for Mrs Danby, she is waiting to see how the Court of Protection reacts to how she rescued her granddaughter in Crewe.
Yesterday, she said sadly: ‘I am prepared to go to prison again. All I have ever asked is for the social workers to listen to her views on where she wants to live. But they always refuse.’
Those who write reports — often psychologists or psychiatrists, but also medical doctors and consultants — do not face the glare of public scrutiny precisely because of the secrecy of the family court system. No parent who appears at one of these hearings, which operate in every town and city in the land, is allowed to speak to anyone later about what has happened there, even to their own MP.
Every year, 200 mothers or fathers are jailed for ‘contempt of court’ for breaking this silence — while the same family courts request the removal of 225 children each week, 97 per cent of whom are never returned to their families.
Now, there are demands for an American-style ‘class’ legal action against the Government by parents who have had dubious or even bogus reports written about them. Paul Grant, a legal adviser at Bernard Chill & Axtell Solicitors in Southampton, says devastated parents have contacted him after his firm took on the case of a mother, known only as Miss A, who claims she was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder by psychiatrist Dr George Hibbert because social workers wanted her baby adopted.
Now, Hibbert could be struck off by the General Medical Council, which is investigating extraordinary suggestions that he deliberately misdiagnosed ‘caring’ mothers as having ‘personality disorders’ in order to help social workers take away children.
When he was confronted with the allegation about Miss A, Hibbert offered to surrender his licence to practise as a doctor.
This week, his spokesman said he is ‘unable to comment due to his professional duty of confidentiality’. But I have learned that Porsche-driving Dr Hibbert amassed up to half-a-million pounds a year from his work as an expert witness, and from his reports on parents and children for social services departments.
Accounts for his company, Assessment in Care Ltd, show that profits soared from £23,000 in 2001 to a peak of £468,000 in 2007. It is now worth £2.7million, according to Companies’ House records.
Paul Grant says that Miss A’s distressing case ‘may be the tip of a very large iceberg’. He adds: ‘We contend that when a practising clinician becomes a professional expert witness with a private company, there is no registration process, and no machinery to vet what they do.
‘By failing to put in a regulatory framework, we would argue that the state is failing to protect families under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which says everyone has the right to a private and family life.’
As Dr Hibbert’s professional conduct comes under scrutiny, it is emerging that he is not the only one whose actions are being questioned.
The Mail has been contacted by scores of parents who believe they have been mistreated on the word of these ‘experts’. We have been told by lawyers about clinicians charging £1,800 a day to appear at family courts, on top of the thousands of pounds a time they receive for writing the reports, which often contain lies, ambiguities and insinuations.
One mother said she had her children taken away because an ‘expert’ said she ‘liked shopping’; another was criticised as mentally unfit for ‘burning the toast’, and lost her child, too.
In another case, an expert was paid handsomely to write a report based on the observations of a social worker who said a five-year-old girl was ‘monosyllabic’.
‘By failing to put in a regulatory framework, we would argue that the state is failing to protect families under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which says everyone has the right to a private and family life’
Yet we are told a secret tape recording of the social worker’s interview showed the child chatting away about school, her family and her home. The little girl has since been removed from her mother.
We have also been told about a gregarious 47-year-old business adviser in the north of England who had to fight to keep her five-year-old daughter after being labelled a ‘totally isolated schizoid’ by a psychologist, who we understand is trained only to treat children, and should never have been involved in the analysis of adult behaviour.
The psychologist in question (who writes up to 100 expert reports a year) charged £6,000 for his written opinion on the mother, her husband and child. Yet the mother says she was given no chance to deny the ‘schizoid’ report — and kept her girl by the skin of her teeth only after the child’s nanny vouched for her parenting skills.
In another extraordinary case, after a woman was found by a psychologist to be a ‘competent mother’, the social workers are said to have insisted on commissioning a second expert’s report. It agreed with the first.
They then commissioned a third, which finally found that the mother had a ‘borderline personality disorder’. All three of her children were taken away for adoption.
So how have such apparent travesties been allowed to go on virtually unchecked in child protection?
Knee-jerk reaction? Since the harrowing case of baby Peter Connelly more youngsters than ever before in British history are being removed from families every week
No other country in Western Europe removes so many children from their parents. The numbers taken into care — the first step towards adoption — have doubled in a decade to more than 10,000 a year.
The last Labour government set adoption targets and rewarded local councils with hundreds of thousands of pounds if they reached them.
Adoption target met
by Hammersmith and Fulham Press Office 10/03/2008
101 children adopted in the last three years
More than 100 children have been adopted in the borough during the last three years, after the Council met a target from central Government target that many experts thought would be unachievable.
The Government target, known as a Local Public Service Agreement (LPSA), challenged the Council to successfully achieve 101 adoptions or secure placements during the last three year period in return for £500,000 of funding.
At the time, the Council felt that the bar was set too high, as in the previous three year period only 71 children had been adopted – a figure that was then considered to be very high.
However, H&F’s adoption team swung into action and pulled out all of the stops in order to meet the target.
The targets have been scrapped after protests from MPs and lawyers, but the dangerous legacy persists. Social workers now get praise and promotion if they raise adoption numbers. David Cameron is also demanding more adoptions — and that they are fast-tracked.
Since the case of 17-month-old Baby P, more youngsters than ever before in British history are being removed from families every week. Many say this is a knee-jerk reaction, which is probably true. But it’s not the whole story.
‘It’s time the criminal rules of justice applied in the family courts. We need parents to be considered innocent until proven guilty’
It is the 1989 Children Act — which introduced a blanket secrecy in the family courts — that is the real culprit. It encouraged a lack of public scrutiny in the child protection system and what MP John Hemming calls the ‘twaddle and psychobabble’ peddled there, which has caused dreadful miscarriages of justice.
Ian Josephs, who has written a book on forced adoption, told me this week: ‘It’s time the criminal rules of justice applied in the family courts. We need parents to be considered innocent until proven guilty and also be free to talk about what is happening in those courts without being thrown into jail.’
Until that happens, hundreds more children may be seized from their families on the word of experts — many of whom are either not qualified or are receiving huge sums of money to play God.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2121886/The-experts-break-families-The-terrifying-story-prospective-MP-branded-unfit-mother-experts-whod-met–nightmare-shared-families.html#ixzz3scSwZ3ON
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A TRIAL THAT TURNED INTO A FARCE !
Last week marked the final act in a criminal trial in Norwich which I and the Sunday Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker had been able to follow in great detail for many months. We agreed that it was one of the strangest and most disturbing trials we have ever come across.
Twice before, but only under tight legal constraints, Christopher managed to publish reports relating to the trial while it was still unfolding (links to these articles are given below). But last Sunday, when he planned to write again about the trial’s shocking conclusion – with each of three defendants being given life-sentences – the newspaper declined to publish his article, for reasons not related to its accuracy or any legal problems.
Because his unpublished article raises at least some of the many serious questions about the conduct of the trial which have not been aired anywhere else in the British media, I am publishing it here:
Last week there were again lurid headlines when a Norwich woman, Marie Black, was given a record-breaking 24 year gaol sentence for being at the centre of what Mr Justice Coleman called an “utterly depraved paedophile ring”. The judge again made play with his finding that five children had been subjected to “gruesome abuse” and passed around a group of adults like sexual “toys”. His only nod to the jury’s finding that seven of the original 10 defendants, including an 85-tear old grandmother, were wholly innocent of these sexual charges was to suggest,for the first time, and without any evidence, that the other members of the “ring” must have been “persons unknown”.
This, as I wrote back in August, was only one of many strange features of this trial. The oddest was that virtually the only evidence against Black and the two men found guilty, without any medical or other corroboration, consisted of voluminous notes written by two foster carers since the children had been placed with them by Norfolk social workers five years ago, supported by a series of DVD interviews with the children, conducted over three years.
Although the children had initially given no hint of anything bad having happened to them, the story told by the foster carers’ notes, supported by police interviews three years after their removal into care, showed them gradually coming up with ever more lurid “disclosures”, described by one of the more robust defence counsel as “nonsensical”.
Indeed last year, such doubt had arisen over the reliability of the written record compiled by one foster carer that the trial was postponed for six months, while the police carried out an inquiry into how and why it had been modified no fewer than 268 times. A witness involved in the police inquiry testified that the chief social worker in the case had asked for the evidence to be edited to ensure that there was “removal of leading questions”, and that nothing was left in “that incriminated the carers”.
Bizarrely little was made of this by the defence team, who were only permitted briefly to cross-examine three of the children under very strict rules, which excluded any questions about the sexual allegations.
As I said before, there was much else about the conduct of this trial I cannot report for legal reasons. Black herself, I gather, has written to supporters to explain how, although she had wanted to give evidence to plead her innocence, she was prevented from doing so by her defence team.
The judge ruled at the outset that the court could not hear evidence from Professor Martin Conway, the country’s leading academic authority on “false recovered memory syndrome”, whereby supposed victims of abuse may eventually, through repeated leading questions, come up with descriptions of events which never happened. However cut and dried this awful story may now seem to be, I suspect we may not have heard the last of it.
Booker’s earlier reports relating to the trial can be found here
Secret court jails father for sending son 21st birthday greeting on Facebook after he was gagged from naming him
By Sue Reid, Daily Mail, 31 May 2013
•Garry Johnson breached gagging order stopping him publicly naming son
•46-year-old brought up his son and still lives with him
•Judge sent father to prison for contempt at a closed-doors family court
•Case certain to fuel concerns about Britain’s network of secret courts
A father has been jailed at a secret court hearing for sending a Facebook message to his grown-up son on his 21st birthday.
Garry Johnson, 46, breached a draconian gagging order which stops him publicly naming his son, Sam, whom he has brought up and who still lives with him.
In a case which is certain to fuel concerns about Britain’s shadowy network of secret courts, a judge sent the former music executive to prison for contempt at a closed-doors family court hearing in Essex at the beginning of last month .
He was not arrested by police or even represented by a lawyer.
The order silencing Mr Johnson – which follows an acrimonious divorce eight years ago – means he cannot mention either of his boys, 21-year-old Sam and Adam, 18, in public, even by congratulating them in a local newspaper announcement when they get engaged, married or have children in the future.
The extraordinary gag is set to last until the end of his life, although his boys are now adults. Last night they condemned their father’s jailing as ‘cruel and ludicrous’.
After their parents’ divorce, the two boys chose to live with their father, following a series of rows with their mother over her new boyfriend.
But within a year of the divorce, Mr Johnson’s ex-wife made allegations to Essex social workers that he was neglecting the children and not feeding them properly at his smart family home.
An investigation by social workers cleared him of any wrongdoing and said the boys were fine.
A year later, in 2006, she made further allegations to social workers that he was mentally unfit to care for the boys.
Medical documents shown to the Mail by Sam and Adam reveal that Mr Johnson was examined three times by a local psychiatrist hired by social workers. The doctor wrote to social workers saying:
‘There is no evidence of mental illness. I cannot understand why there are concerns about Mr Johnson’s mental health.’
Social services refused, as a result, to get involved.
In 2007, the ex-wife started private care proceedings to remove the boys from their father. A judge put the boys under a ‘living at home with parent’ care order.
It meant they would continue to live with their father, but under supervision by social services.
This care order was accompanied by the gagging order to stop an increasingly anguished Mr Johnson talking about the case publicly.
Even naming his sons in the most innocuous circumstances – such as on Facebook – became a contempt of court.
The care order on Sam expired on his 18th birthday three years ago. The one on Adam in October last year when he reached 18. Normally, a gagging order imposed by a family court judge on a parent expires at the same time as a care order on the child. This one did not.
Mr Johnson was imprisoned at the height of the Mail’s campaign against jailings by this country’s network of secret courts.
The secretive family court system, which jailed Mr Johnson, deals with custody wrangles, children’s care orders and adoption.
Mr Johnson received a letter in late April from Chelmsford County Court officials ordering him to go to Basildon Magistrates’ Court building on May 2 for a hearing regarding his children.
He was not warned he might face imprisonment or that the hearing was about his Facebook message, posted on Sam’s birthday a few days earlier on April 23.
On arrival, he was escorted by court security guards to a private room in the building for a half hour hearing under family court rules before His Honour Judge Damien Lochrane.
He was not warned that he might need a lawyer.
At the private hearing, Mr Johnson learned he had breached a gagging order, imposed by the family courts in 2007, by sending the Facebook message.
He informed the judge that he had had four heart attacks and was awaiting a triple by-pass operation. But he was sentenced to 28 days’ jail and sent down to a court cell to await transport to Chelmsford prison.
In the court cell, he had a heart attack caused by the shock. Rushed to a local hospital by ambulance, he was then shackled and handcuffed to a bed while on oxygen and receiving morphine.
Booker Column 23 October 2015 ( The Telegraph)
Twice recently David Cameron has spoken out about our “child protection” system. At the Tory conference he noted that the suicide rate among children formerly in care was four times the national average, and that 70 percent of prostitutes had likewise been in care (although the more usual figure is 50 percent). He might have added that care-leavers represent more than a quarter of our prison population and that only 9 percent reach university, against a national average of 47 percent. “I tell you”, he promised, “this shames our country, and we will put it right”.
This was picked up by a Tory backbencher at Prime Minister’s Questions, who said how “movingly and shockingly” he had spoken about “the life of despair that still lies ahead for our looked-after children”. Cameron replied that the answer must be to “speed up the adoption process”, to provide more children in care with “loving homes”.
Alas, all this demonstrated, yet again, was how astonishingly little Cameron understands what is really going on in our “care” system, It is true that many children taken into care from dysfunctional homes are already so damaged that they are unlikely to do well in later life. But one result of the Government’s obsession with adoption is that this urges social workers to snatch even more children from loving homes for no good reason, because they make more “suitable adoption material” (despite this, the number of children adopted – 5,520 in England last year – is still only a fraction of the 69,540 held in “care”).
Just as tragic, however, is how many children taken from their families suffer far worse abuse at the hands of the £3.7 billion a year “care” industry than was ever alleged against their parents as the excuse for removing them in the first place. In all the years I have been writing about this, I have found few things more shocking than the continual evidence I get of desperately unhappy children being physically and emotionally ill-treated in “care”, whose only wish is to return to their loving parents.
This is one of the real dirty secrets of our “care” system which no politicians ever recognise. Yet one person who did much to expose the hidden realities of this system was the journalist Camilla Cavendish, who is now head of Cameron’s policy unit at Number 10. No one is better placed to tell him that he simply hasn’t begun to grasp what is really going on in the murky underworld of “child protection”. If what he said about his determination to “put it right“ is not just another empty promise, she should insist on giving him a proper briefing as to why the failings of this system have become as horrifying a scandal as any in Britain today.
A team of prison officers were put on 24-hour shifts beside his bed to make sure he did not escape.
He recovered and was sent to prison two days later, serving two weeks of the sentence before being released. Details of the horrifying case were made public to the Mail by his sons, who are not subject to any gagging order according to their Essex-based lawyer, Alan Foskett.
The jailing provoked a horrified response from MPs last night. John Hemming, the Lib Dem MP who has campaigned against the secret courts, said: ‘This is yet another example of how the secret courts are stopping freedom of speech. I have never heard of a gagging order of this kind going on into adulthood. This is a surreal case.’
Mr Johnson’s local MP, John Baron, said: ‘I have helped Mr Johnson and his sons – who always wanted to live with him – over several years. To find he has been imprisoned for sending a birthday message to one of them is troubling.
‘Whilst I appreciate the need to protect children, the family court system often ignores the legitimate wishes of families. This needs to change, and quickly.’
Sam, a telesales manager and former professional footballer, said last night: ‘My dad is a good father and has never been in trouble with the police. He was treated like a criminal. This ludicrous gagging order should not exist and must now be lifted.
Both Adam and myself are adults. This cruel ruling is now hanging over my father to silence him about the sons he loves for the rest of his life. That is a terrible thing in what is meant to be a free country.’
Mr Johnson was imprisoned a day before senior judges, on May 3, reacted to the Mail campaign by saying they planned to stop courts jailing defendants in secret for contempt.
The Ministry of Justice this week said that it does not count up people jailed by the family courts because the numbers are ‘so small’.
A spokesman said of the courts: ‘It is very rare for anyone to be imprisoned for contempt of court and it only ever happens in extreme circumstances when a person has continually disregarded legally binding requirements made by the court and clearly communicated to them.
‘A person accused of contempt of court will always be given their full legal right to defend himself or herself at a hearing will always be heard in an open court.’
However, it is estimated by campaigners and MPs that up to 200 parents a year are imprisoned for contempt by the family courts. Because of the controversial secrecy rules, some have been sent to jail for discussing their case with MPs or charity workers advising them.
The secrecy in family courts will not be lifted simply because L.J Munby now decides that” judgements will in future be published unless there are compelling reasons not to do so” .Who decides the reasons? Why the judges of course !Since the families will still not be named in these judgements these judgements will for most people be difficult to identify and locate.They will even if located simply say what the judge has decided but will not give details of what actually happened in the court.
The justice dealt out by family courts will still be vastly inferior to that of the criminal courts until the two are bound by the same rules.
In my opinion,that is precisely what should happen.
I make 12 points to illustrate this:-
1:-Judges will still find “compelling reasons” not to publish dodgy judgements. Their judgements are 99% in favour of local authorities so parents views will NOT be published.
2:-The public(including grandparents and relatives of parents) will still be excluded from family courts.
3:-Mothers whose babies have been taken at birth will still be threatened with jail if they” go
public”Increasing forced adoption will uniquely in the UK continue “bigtime” as a major government target
4:- More children will still be taken for emotional abuse (or risk of it !) than those removed for both sex abuse and physical abuse added together;
5:-The media will still be forbidden to name parents who want to protest openly and publicly , waive anonymity like rape victims and use their own names
6:-Children taken into care will still have their mobiles and laptops confiscated to isolate them from family and friends. Conversation with visiting parents will still be strictly censored
7:-Children in care receiving visits will still be forbidden to report to parents abuse by fosterers,care workers,or social workers,and nearly half will still end up in jail or as sex workers.
8:-Agencies like Barnardos and N.F.A (founded by 2 social workers and sold for £130million+) will still make fortunes from recruiting fosterers and adoptive parents
9:- Many foreign visitors who are single parents here for a holiday or to meet with relatives will if accused by uk social services of neglect etc be prevented from returning home to face social services in their homelands and their children will still be taken for forced adoption. in the uk
10:-Pregnant women fleeing the uk before any court proceedings start will still be tracked down in foreign countries by the SS who will often start proceedings abroad to recover the children for forced adoption or long term fostering in the uk uk
11:-Judges will continue to issue injunctions forbidding parents who have committed no crime from contacting directly or indirectly their own children for periods of many years.
12:-PUNISHMENT WITHOUT CRIME will continue to be inflicted on parents, as experts (described as hired guns in Prof Jane Ireland’s report for the government)predict risk of harm to children who are then adopted.
Nothing much will change…..
The case that exposed murky justice of closed courts
The Mail’s campaign against jailings by secret courts revealed the case of a woman sent to prison for trying to take her father out of a care home.
Wanda Maddocks, 50, was handed a five-month term by the Court of Protection which operates behind closed doors to oversee the affairs of those too ill or elderly to make their own decisions. She was not in court and was not represented.
A judge ruled that her attempt to remove her 80-year-old father, John, from the home amounted to wilful defiance of the court and ordered her to be locked up.
This piece featured in The Mail on April 25
However, no record of the ruling was published and secrecy rules barred the naming of Miss Maddocks, her father, the council which asked for her to be jailed or the social worker who gave evidence against her.
Judge Martin Cardinal, sitting in Birmingham last August, opened his court to the public for the sentencing, but the unlocking of the courtroom doors was announced only to passers-by in the corridor outside.
The Mail’s reporting of the case in April provoked a huge row and prompted senior judges to ban the secret jailing of defendants for contempt of court.
It also prompted Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to write to Sir James Munby, the judge in charge of family justice, asking him to include the Court of Protection in a review of the family courts – which are rarely open to the public and usually publish only anonymous details of judgements.
Miss Maddocks was jailed after the court heard she had repeatedly broken orders not to interfere with her father’s life at the care home.
She was arrested 11 days after her sentencing and served six weeks before being released after apologising to the judge.
It was only when the Mail learned of the case that the judge agreed that Miss Maddocks and her brother Ivan could be named, along with the council, Stoke-on-Trent. Ivan was given a suspended sentence for his role in taking their father to a court hearing and to see a Birmingham lawyer.
Contrast the above with this case !Mother who left children home alone for three weeks while she went on holiday will not be prosecuted – ITV News
Children pulled from their mother on Christmas Day
It’s extraordinary that two boys have been put into the care of a father who left 11 years ago by a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Laura Harris
By Christopher Booker, Daily Telegraph, 1 Feb 2014
Ever more baffling become the rulings of some of our family court judges. At 7.45 on Christmas morning, two boys, aged 14 and 11, were lying in bed at home, eager to come downstairs to open their presents around the tree. There was a knock at the door and four police officers entered, to carry the boys downstairs, struggling and protesting, to drive them miles away into the care of a father who walked out on them 11 years ago, two weeks after the younger boy was born.
This extraordinary action, it turned out, was the idea of a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Laura Harris. Although the boys’ mother divorced her husband some years back, she had never objected to them seeing their father, when he applied for contact with them. The objections, she says, all came from the boys themselves. But the judge refused to believe this, insisting that they could only not want to see their father because their mother must have coached them. Judge Harris therefore ruled not only that the boys should see their father, but also that they must now live with him – removing them from the mother who had brought them up, from schools where they were doing well, and from all their friends.
The older boy then managed to contact his mother, to say that his brother had tried to run away because of a violent incident with his father. A further incident followed in the street, observed by bystanders, which resulted in the police being called, but taking no action. The alarmed mother called the boys’ new school, which also took no action. She then asked for help from social services, which now plans to “assess” all the members of the family. Meanwhile, the judge last week ruled that the boys can only be allowed occasional brief supervised meetings in a grim council “contact centre”, with the loving mother they long to return to, and who has never harmed them in any way. She and her lawyers immediately lodged an appeal.
Why is it that, in so many cases I have followed in recent years where complaints of abuse are made against a father, judges seem so keen to remove children from the mother who has brought them up, to hand them over to the care of the father? This has become such a common pattern that, if only the new head of the Family Division, Lord Justice Munby, can succeed in his admirable campaign to expose the workings of our family courts to “the glare of publicity”, it may come to be recognised as one of the more disturbing features of how this system seems too often to have gone off the rails.
Egg on judge’s face as sons return home
Mrs Justice Laura Harris ruled that two boys should be parted from their mother, but the story has a happy ending
The ruling that affected the boys’ lives was made at London’s High Court
By Christopher Booker, 6:30PM GMT 01 Mar 2014
Twice in the past month I have reported the bizarre story of two boys, aged 14 and 11, who, following a High Court ruling by Mrs Justice Laura Harris, were pulled kicking and screaming from their beds at 7.45 on the morning of Christmas Day by four police officers. They were taken from the respectable, intelligent middle-class mother with whom they had lived happily all their lives, to be handed over to a father who walked out on them 11 years ago, shortly after the younger boy was born.
Last Sunday, I described how, in response to my original article, Judge Harris ordered the publication of her original judgment of December 23, to justify her decision that the boys, against their expressed wishes, must now live with their father. She recognised that it would be a major upheaval for the boys to be uprooted from their school and friends, but was confident that they would soon learn to make a new life, miles away, where they didn’t want to be. She didn’t add that, following this traumatic event, the police had to be called to the father’s house on several occasions, and that the older boy had twice run away to return home to his mother.
Late last Sunday evening, I had a message from the mother to report a remarkable twist to the story. The boys had just been dropped off at her house by the father, who had then driven away without a word.
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting the mother and her charming sons for lunch. Between discussing with the older boy his passion for palaeontology, I heard something of the events that had led to this amazing turnaround. For once, it seemed, this family had the good fortune to encounter two sensible social workers, one at each end of London, who agreed unanimously that the boys should return to live with their mother.
Where this leaves Mrs Justice Harris we can as yet only guess. But at the moment it seems this nightmarish episode in the family’s life has come to a miraculously happy ending.
Re E 2013 EWCA Civ 1614
Judgment, Family Law Week
Appeal by mother against care and placement orders made in respect of her youngest child. Held that adoption was not a proportionate outcome. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, the adoption order was set aside and the care order was replaced with an interim care order.
This case concerned an appeal brought by a mother of three children in respect of the care and placement orders made by HHJ Cushing in the PRFD in respect of her youngest child, S, who was 21 months at the time of the appeal.
The mother, her husband and their two older children were from Bangladesh. The mother and the older children followed the husband to England where he was studying. The mother formed a sexual relationship with another man, Mr U, who is the father of S. The mother and Mr U spent significant amounts of time together during the day whilst the husband was at work. Mr U would be left with the care of the children from time to time. When S was 7 months old she was admitted to hospital having suffered an acute right-sided subdural haematoma on her brain, retinal haemorrhages and encephalopathy. Fortunately S made a full recovery. The local authority commenced care proceedings and S was placed into foster care following her discharge from hospital. The husband, who by now had been made aware of the mother’s relationship with Mr U and S’s paternity, applied for residence in respect of the older two children, and succeeded.
HHJ Cushing conducted a fact-finding hearing and found that Mr U caused the injuries to S by shaking her violently, or imposing a shaking and impact assault on her. The mother was absolved from any involvement in the process and from having any knowledge of what happened. There was no adverse finding made against the mother. At the final hearing in the care proceedings concerning S, the local authority sought care and placement orders, supported by the Guardian. The adult psychiatrist and the child psychiatrist both supported a return of S to the mother’s care. The judge favoured the local authority’s case and made a care order, dispensing with the mother’s consent to adoption and authorising the local authority to place S for adoption. The main issue for the final hearing was the mother’s relationship with Mr U and her ability to separate from him.
The mother appealed. At the appeal she argued first of all that the outcome was not proportionate to the factual circumstances of the case in light of the decision of Re B  UKSC 33, and the guidance in Re B-S  EWCA Civ 1146 that adoption is to be chosen by the court as the outcome only if “nothing else will do.” Secondly, the mother argued that the local authority had offered support, counselling or basic assistance to the mother to assist her in separating from Mr U. Thirdly, the mother pointed to the fact that HHJ Cushing had not made express reference to the various welfare checklists in the relevant legislation or to the need for a proportionate outcome.
McFarlane LJ gave the lead judgment. He commented on the importance of judges making specific reference to the welfare checklists and to the test required for dispensing with parental consent set out in section 52 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, an exercise which Judge Cushing had not engaged in at all.
The Court considered the proportionality of the outcome of adoption against the evidence in the case. The conclusion was that this would be adoption for a young child from the care of a mother who was otherwise seen as a loving and capable mother; the child had a secure attachment to her; and there were no adverse findings against her. An outcome of adoption was not proportionate in this case and was therefore wrong in the context of Re B. The Court also accepted that the local authority had a role and an opportunity to assist the mother in separating from Mr U, but they had done nothing to assist her.
The appeal was allowed. The placement for adoption was set aside and the care order was replaced with an interim care order. The matter was returned to HHJ Cushing in the PRFD to consider an alternative placement.
Summary by Andrea Watts, barrister, 1 King’s Bench Walk
‘You can’t see your son – but can he have one of your organs?’ How social workers left one man with a terrible moral dilemma
By Alison Smith Squire, Daily Mail, 3rd November 2008
The letter from Hampshire Social Services was as brief as it was bewildering. ‘Please ring me on the above number,’ it said. ‘I have some information that might be of interest to you.’ This was quite an understatement, as Michael Shergold soon found.
A quietly spoken father of three, he finds that his life rarely gets more exciting than his weekly game of golf. But when he called the social workers as requested, he was confronted with a series of astonishing facts.
They said he was the father of another child – a five-year-old son from a previous, short-lived relationship. A former girlfriend, unable to cope with the demands of motherhood, had handed the boy over to foster parents.
Bewildered: Michael and Alex Shergold with his sons Peter and David last week. ‘Our family seems incomplete’, says Michael
A meeting with this new-found son was out of the question, he was told, let alone any sort of relationship. He was also informed that the boy was to be formally adopted and that the council was ringing merely to let him know.
His shock slowly turned to anger and then determination. Hurt to have been kept in the dark for so many years, Michael still believed he was responsible for the child – whom we shall call Andrew – and launched a legal fight to secure custody.
But there were extraordinary surprises in store for Michael and his wife, Alex. Hampshire Social Services wanted more than just his acquiescence.
Andrew, it emerged, had been diagnosed with a severe problem in one of his organs. For legal reasons, it is not possible to be more specific.
But the boy stands little chance of living beyond his teenage years without a transplant – from a blood relative if at all possible. The most suitable blood relative, it was explained by social workers, was Michael himself.
In a disturbing saga, this was perhaps the most unpleasant twist of all. It brought him to a damning conclusion – that Hampshire Social Services had made him aware of Andrew’s existence only to provide the child with a body part.
Michael tried to adopt his son but last year he lost the battle and was refused even occasional visiting rights, which were deemed too upsetting for the boy.
Like almost all cases that go through the family court system, the details were not made public.
Michael now has to decide whether to risk his own life with a dangerous operation for a son who, as things stand, he will never see.
‘Words cannot express the anger and bewilderment I feel,’ says Michael. ‘I simply cannot believe how Social Services can be so cruel.
To track me down, tell me I have a son I knew nothing about, throw my life into chaos and then tell me I will never be able to see him is nothing short of disgraceful.’
The Mail on Sunday asked Hampshire County Council two months ago about its handling of the case.
It responded by obtaining a legal injunction to prevent us printing Michael’s story, claiming that to do so might damage his son’s chances of settling down.
Determined that Michael should get the chance to speak, The Mail on Sunday has pursued a lengthy legal fight to lift the injunction, and last week we succeeded. Today, in this exclusive interview, Michael is able to talk about his ordeal for the first time.
‘To know my son has been adopted against my consent by strangers rather than his blood family, where he would have had a loving home, has been bad enough,’ he says.
‘But to know that, if I don’t donate an organ, my son might not live long enough to know me has put me in the worst situation of all. I’m in a dilemma about what to do. I feel I am being asked to make a decision in a vacuum. If I could just see my son and maintain some sort of contact, I would have absolutely no hesitation about doing it.’
Michael, 55, was speaking at his spacious three-bedroom house in Southampton, the city where he was born and where he has spent his whole life. Sitting by his side is Alex. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to Britain in 2002, the same year the couple married, and she became a pastor with a Pentecostal church in Portsmouth.
This is not the first time that Michael, who works as a school caretaker, has suffered domestic drama. His 16-year marriage ended in 1996 when he discovered that his first wife had been unfaithful. He was given custody of the children – Peter, now 17, David, 20, and Susanna, 30 – and brought them up single-handedly.
As Alex serves home-made carrot cake and their cuckoo clock announces the time, the Shergolds seem every inch a loving family. Their attitude to their predicament is one of quiet anger and grief rather than unfettered fury.
‘We have a wonderful, close-knit family,’ says Michael. Peter and David, who still live at home, flit in and out as the couple talk. Susanna lives close by.
It is a particular irony that Michael has been employed by Hampshire County Council for the past 35 years, overseeing the repairs, cleaning and maintenance of a local primary school. As it happens, the job requires him to undergo criminal record checks every year and neither he nor Alex, who was also checked, has any convictions.
The letter that shattered Michael’s life came in January 2007, but the origins of the trauma lay five years earlier, when he had embarked on a difficult relationship with a much younger woman.
Despite their age difference, things went well at first after they were introduced through friends. ‘She was the first woman I’d dated since splitting up with my wife,’ he recalls.
‘At first I didn’t think of having a relationship with her because, at 29, she was much younger than me. But she was bubbly and got on well with the boys. It was only after a few months that I realised she was unstable and had a drink problem. She would swear in front of the boys and I ended the relationship.’
He had no inkling that she might be pregnant and that, he thought, was the end of the matter. Indeed, it was not long before he met Alex through a friendship website.
Like Michael, she has three grown-up children and, again like Michael, she had spent years bringing them up single-handedly. She worked for US military intelligence, where she studied for degrees in psychology and theology.
Michael and Alex married a few months after meeting and settled down to a domestic routine, enjoying rounds of golf, games of bowls, trips to the cinema and regular visits to church.
That all changed with Hampshire County Council’s bombshell. ‘It was a terrible shock,’ recalls Alex. ‘Michael was told by a social worker that his child had been put into foster care.’
At 53, Alex thought she had said goodbye to bringing up a child, but she was as determined as her husband to welcome Andrew into the family. ‘That was where he belonged,’ she says. ‘Not with strangers to whom he is not related.’
The couple, whose children had also come round to the idea of embracing a new sibling into their lives, visited Hampshire Social Services’ headquarters in Winchester, where they were shown Andrew’s picture.
With hindsight, they were naively optimistic. Immediately infatuated, they dug out Scalextric and Lego sets, embarked on plans to turn their loft into a fourth bedroom and even researched school places.
‘He looked just like his daddy,’ says Alex. ‘We were determined that although he’d had such a dreadful start in life, we’d soon make it all up to him.’
When, two weeks later, DNA tests confirmed that Michael was the father, the couple instructed a solicitor to stop the adoption order and begin their own custody proceedings. ‘I thought that once Social Services saw our happy family home and how much we wanted Andrew to be a part of it, it would only be a matter of weeks before he would come to live with us,’ says Michael.
But then came the breathtaking twist. ‘At our second meeting with Social Services a social worker told us, “Andrew needs an organ transplant and, as you know, an organ is best donated from a blood relative.” ’
The couple were left in no doubt that Michael’s co-operation was essential if his son was to stand a good chance of surviving. His mother, they learned, had initially agreed to be the donor but changed her mind on the grounds that it would hinder her chances of having another child.
Social workers told Michael that he, and his children, were the ‘next choice’. He admits: ‘I was taken aback but, of course, desperately worried and keen to help my son.’
Meanwhile, two independent social workers were assigned to assess Michael and Alex as potential parents for Andrew. It was, by all accounts, a rigorous process. ‘I was surprised to be interrogated by a total stranger,’ he says, ‘but I hid nothing.’ Yet, over a
dozen visits, the questions became increasingly invasive.
‘The worst questions were about our sex life,’ he says. ‘They kept asking how “healthy” it was – we took it to mean how many times a week we made love – and if we indulged in ‘normal’ sex.’
Alex, who admits she didn’t take kindly to the intrusion, adds: ‘I felt that side of our marriage was private and we didn’t see how it could be relevant. In the end I replied, “None of your business and I am not happy to elaborate further.” Perhaps it is because I’m an American and a Christian, but I found the Social Services’ attitude difficult to understand.’
Meanwhile, the truth about Andrew’s situation gradually emerged. Finding a permanent home was not easy, however. The boy’s illness demanded a special diet and regular hospital visits.
After his rejection by one set of foster parents, his photograph had to be posted on an adoption website before finally, in 2006, the couple who were eventually to adopt him came forward. ‘I couldn’t believe this could have happened to my son,’ says Michael. ‘I found it incredible.
‘Social Services told me in our first phone conversation that Andrew’s mother had named me as the father. Yet, as far as I can see, they made no effort to find me. I have lived in the same house for 11 years. I am on the electoral roll and in the phone book.’
Hampshire County Council says it did its best to locate Michael. ‘A care order would not have been made had the court not been satisfied that every effort had been made to locate Mr Shergold,’ says council leader Ken Thornber. ‘We have apologised to Mr Shergold for our failure to find him during care proceedings.
‘All circumstances leading to a child coming into care involve a degree of human tragedy and require very finely balanced judgments to be made. The needs of the child must always be the paramount concern and the judge did conclude that the local authority did its best, when it discovered the difficult situation that had arisen, to communicate with Mr Shergold and establish what contribution he could make to his son’s life.’
Michael believes he was eventually traced only because doctors said Andrew would need a transplant. Indeed, he now believes that even his attempt to adopt Andrew was something of a charade. ‘We began to feel that Social Services had let us go through the custody proceedings for nothing – that the adoption was arranged and they had no intention of placing Andrew with us,’ he says.
The Shergolds were refused custody at Portsmouth County Court last November. The judge admitted the background had been ‘difficult and somewhat unsatisfactory’ but ruled that moving Andrew in with the Shergolds would cause him unnecessary ‘difficulty and disruption’.
Just two days later – suspiciously quickly in the view of the Shergolds – he had been formally adopted, leaving the Shergolds in the cold.
Even their request that Michael should be able to see him for visits was turned down on the grounds that it would be ‘unsettling for Andrew’, who was ‘bonding’ with his new family. Yet Andrew’s mother, who was judged unfit, is still allowed to visit Andrew twice a year.
Meanwhile, Hampshire Social Services are still pressing Michael to donate an organ. Even if Michael decides to do so, it will make no difference. ‘I was stunned,’ he says. ‘I asked them what would happen if I gave him a part of my body. They said that even then, I wouldn’t be allowed contact. Andrew would not even be told who donated the organ as this would be ‘too unsettling’.’
The dilemma has had damaging repercussions for the Shergold family. Michael says his children are wounded and that even his marriage has suffered.
The criticism they endured during the adoption process hardly helped. ‘Social Services accused me of being unco-operative,’ explains Alex. ‘They made it plain they didn’t like me. It seems being American was a problem and so too, I think, was the colour of my skin.’ Alex is mixed-race.
One official report on the couple expressed concern that Andrew would be brought up in a dual-ethnicity family. ‘They made out I was a foreigner who had no idea how to look after a child,’ she says. ‘I’ve raised three children. Despite the fact that they live in the States, we are incredibly close. I also think of Michael’s sons as my own.
‘I began to think that if I wasn’t around, Michael would have got custody. One night I suggested to Michael and his sons that I leave. Thankfully, they wouldn’t hear of it. But the stress has been unbearable. Undoubtedly, Michael and I would have split up if our relationship wasn’t so strong.’
And Michael adds: ‘Social Services have never given me a concrete reason why my wife and I are not suitable. That is because there is no reason.’
The couple did not qualify for legal aid and have spent £4,000 on solicitors. Now they have been told there is no further action they can take.
Overshadowing everything, however, is the decision to donate an organ. ‘If I don’t donate an organ, Andrew might not live long enough to meet me and the guilt would probably be too much to live with,’ he says. ‘If I do, it will be as if I am donating to someone who I don’t really know exists.
‘How can social workers sleep at night, knowing they have separated a boy from his real father, a good father who has already successfully raised three children? They won’t even pass on birthday cards.
‘They have stormed in and left us to pick up the pieces. I cannot believe that in this country someone can stop you seeing your own child when you have done nothing wrong.
‘Our family seems incomplete. If I see a boy in the street, I wonder if it’s him. I dream of him meeting his brothers and sister and joining us when we have big birthday celebrations. My only hope is that he can choose to trace me when he is 18.
‘But what if he doesn’t live that long or is told lies about me – that his father is dead or didn’t want him? It breaks my heart to think we may never meet
Social services Stasi should hang their heads in shame
by Amanda Platell, Daily Mail 29th Jan 2009
Should proof ever be needed of the scandalous social engineering now so casually carried out by our state, it comes in the case of the loving grandparents of two small children who desperately sought to adopt them but saw them instead placed with a gay couple.
The decision was made to refuse the grandparents the right to raise their own blood relatives and instead give them away to two gay men ‘in accordance with who can best meet their needs’, according to the social services jargon.
But how can two strangers – gay or straight – best meet the needs of two children abandoned by a drug- addict mother for whom the only constants in their short, difficult lives have been their loving grandparents?
We don’t even know what the reasoning behind this perverse decision was, because it was taken in secret, behind the closed doors of a children’s court. Those who took part will not be held accountable and we are unable even to identify their victims.
This decision is one of particular cruelty. The decision itself is bad enough, but the grandparents’ description of how they were treated give us a chilling insight into the Stasi-like approach of modern social services.
They were told that if they so much as objected to the adoption of the children by the gay couple then they would never be allowed to see the children again.
‘You can either accept it,’ the grandparents were told by social workers, ‘and there’s a chance you’ll see the children twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again.’ The Stalinist secret police couldn’t have put it better.
Further, the grandparents are not allowed even to know where the children will live, what the gay couple’s circumstances are and what kind of a home they will provide for the children. Equally astonishingly, it emerges the youngsters were not given to a gay couple for want of other alternatives: indeed there were several other heterosexual couples desperate and deemed suitable to adopt the children.
But the social workers and the courts opted for the gay men.
As the grandfather in this case says: ‘The mother is the cornerstone of any family and the most important person for a young child.’ That’s hard to argue with. His little granddaughter will no doubt have lots of female role models, gay- speak for women friends, but it’s not the same.
A little girl already wary of men, no doubt because in her young life she’s witnessed her addict mother being ritually abused by them, will have to turn to one of them one day, when she gets her periods, when she needs her first bra. It’s hard enough asking your own mother such things, let alone a gay man.
The only reason given for denying the grandparents the right to adopt their own daughter’s children is worries about their age and their health. The 59-year-old grandfather is a farm worker and has angina, his wife, just 46, is being treated for diabetes.
Plenty of people lead normal lives with diabetes – and angina.
And how outrageous to say a woman of 46 is too old to be a mother – particularly when it emerges she is still bringing up children of her own. Who’d have dared to suggest that Cherie Blair was too old – or to suggest it to the countless women who have healthy children in their forties?
When did the State decide to endorse such monstrously cruel social engineering? When did it decide to fly in the face of overwhelming evidence that children’s lives are best when they are raised by a mother and father living together – preferably married?
It appears that social services, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still believe that all relationships are equal when it comes to raising children. Indeed, in this case they seem to have decided that a gay relationship is preferable to a couple of opposite sex.
This is simply not true. They are not equal when it comes to the things children need most – commitment and stability. Yet is is regarded as heretical even to state the facts: which are that marriages last longer than cohabiting heterosexual relationships and they both last longer than gay relationships.
Those are the cold, bare truths. It is too soon to know the statistics on same-sex marriages as there has not been enough time to assess the trends and many same sex couples enjoy enduring and truly fulfilling relationships.
But if commitment and stability matter most to children’s happiness and success, the least suitable place for them to be raised is by a gay couple. That’s not homophobia, that’s not bigotry, that’s a fact – unpalatable as it might be to the Left consensus.
When you read of such shocking decisions, you can only wonder how any sane judge could put two small children with two men. Are they trying to meet some target they have been set for placing children for adoption with gay couples? Who knows, because shamefully all of this process is conducted in secret.
It also reflects how out of touch the state and the law is now, not just with the traditional family, but with the role of grandparents. Again and again we hear stories of grandparents cut out of their grandchildren’s lives after divorce or death and having no recourse to the law.
Grandparents have been written out of the modern liberal family narrative at a time, in reality, when they have never been more needed or more central to the revival of the extended family.
They help out with child care, work around the house, ferry children to after-school classes and even assist with finances.
But against all the evidence social services choose to take two small children away from their natural family and give them up for adoption – to a gay couple.
It beggars belief and seems guaranteed to do only one thing: to give those innocent children the poorest possible start to their lives, the slimmest chance of happiness and the greatest likelihood of anger, bewilderment and failure.
Those who made this decision should hang their heads in shame.
Jail social workers who take children without telling parents why, says Britain’s top family judge
•Sir James Munby attacked workers in Bristol who didn’t explain themselves
•They did not tell a couple why their two children were being taken from them
•They breach a court order in doing so – which could carry a jail term in future
Daily Mail, 25 October 2013
The country’s most senior family judge yesterday launched a furious attack on social workers who failed to tell parents why their children were being adopted – and suggested that in future the same offence could carry a jail term.
Local authority workers in Bristol ignored a court order requiring them to explain why the couple’s two children were being taken for adoption.
They only released the information to the parents 45 minutes before the decision was due to be finalised, giving the family no real hope of mounting a challenge in court.
Sir James Munby, who is President of the Family Division, said their behaviour was ‘deplorable’ and ‘symptomatic of a deeply rooted culture in family courts’.
In his judgment, he accused the social workers of having a ‘slapdash’ and ‘lackadaisical’ attitude to court orders.
He said the couple, who were facing the ‘permanent loss of two children’ had been denied ‘vitally important’ information.
He also warned that in future, there would be ‘consequences’ for social workers, suggesting that they could be jailed for contempt if they fail to comply with court orders – an offence that carries a sentence of up to two years.
Until now, local authority workers have largely been protected by family courts, which also routinely tolerate delays and inefficiencies in their work.
By contrast, members of the public who have failed to comply with court orders have been dealt with severely.
The most notorious case of this was the prison sentence for contempt handed down to Wanda Maddocks, who wanted to get her father out of a care home where she thought he was being ill-treated.
Miss Maddocks was jailed without representation and in secret until her case was revealed by the Daily Mail.
But Sir James’s warning suggests council staff will now face the same punishment as ordinary members of the public if they fail – either through incompetence or unwillingness – to hand over the required information on time.
He told the court: ‘That the parents should have been put in this position is quite deplorable.
‘It is, unhappily, symptomatic of a deeply rooted culture in the family courts which, however long established, will no longer be tolerated.
‘The court is entitled to expect – and from now on family courts will demand – strict compliance with all such orders.
‘Non-compliance with orders should be expected to have and will usually have a consequence.’
He added: ‘There is simply no excuse for this. Orders must be obeyed and complied with to the letter and on time. Non-compliance with an order, any order, by anyone is bad enough.
‘It is a particularly serious matter if the defaulter is a public body such as a local authority.
‘It is also a particularly serious matter if the order goes to something as vitally important as the right of a parent who is facing the permanent loss of their child to know what case is being mounted against them by a public authority.’
Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who has campaigned for openness in the family courts, said: ‘At least anybody who is sent down for contempt by Sir James will not be locked up in secret.
‘He has put the boot on to the other foot. The next time courts are let down by the incompetence or bloody-mindedness of social workers, it will be a director of children’s services facing jail rather than a parent.’
IAN JOSEPHS describes what happens in the family courts
I receive 3 or 4 new calls for help every day and double that number of following up cases.If you multiply by 365 ,that comes to well over 1000 new calls per year and that continually over 10 years !There have consistently been 5 main reasons for taking children into care from parents who have never committed a crime affecting their ability to care for their children;:-
1:- Domestic violence/sexual abuse.When this is reported the abused parent often suffers more than the abuser as he/she is blamed for” failing to protect children from witnessing violence that is often no more than shouting and screaming .! Consequently even when a new non violent partner is found and a new baby is born that child is taken for “risk of emotional abuse” !A parent who reports the other parent for sexually abusing a child is often disbelieved (on the balance of probabilities) and consequently loses the right to any contact with the child and prison for any breach of the court order;
2:-A parent is aggressive with social workers ,resents their “interference” and refuses to “engage with professionals” .A heinous sin causing a psychobabble charlatan to be called in and for a generous fee to diagnose the parent with some sort of personality disorder making them unfit to care for their children.
3:-An unexplained bruise or series of tiny fractures is found when the child is taken to hospital by careful parents who are rewarded for their devotion by the loss of all their children to State Care on the balance of probabilities (51%) .Just one injury is enough;”one strike and you are out” is the usual social worker’s mantra except when they fearfully ignore dangerous persons like those caring for baby P where there were over 60 strikes and still not out !
4:-Parents who have themselves been in care and suffered abuse and even rape are said to be too traumatised by their past to be fit to look after children.Similarly when parents have mild learning difficulties (or sometimes only one parent has these problems) and the babies are taken without giving the parents a chance to show that they can cope;
5:- A history of drug or alcohol abuse even when hair strand tests have shown that the problem has been cured.Children are taken because of the risk of a possible future relapse.
“No Punishment without crime” would largely eliminate these cruel injustices.
WHY DO THEY DO IT?
“Surely”,I can hear you say “British Justice is the finest in the world,and I just cannot believe things are as bad as all that” and then you add “Social workers take up that profession because they want to help people , so how can I believe they turn into the sort of monsters you portray?” “Why on earth would they do the sort of things you say they do?
THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON :-
Once they have decided something they will rarely admit a mistake ! No matter what evidence turns up in favour of the parent they have initially decided to be “unfit to parent” they will disregard it and only consider evidence that supports their original opinion.”Never admit you were wrong” is the unspoken rule and countless tragedies arise from it as a result;
I repeat “Because like birds of a feather social workers, guardians ,family court solicitors and their carefully chosen “experts” always “stick together” never admitting a mistake and fanatically eager to cover up rather than rectify any errors of judgement they have made ”
If your child has a tragic accident,do not expect comfort or sympathy from social services! Expert instead a merciless attack and the removal of your other children !
Parents’ social service hell after one anonymous letter : Judge attacks Baby P council for ‘knee-jerk’ abuse investigation
•Judge said Haringey Council’s social workers should not have investigated
•They approached child’s GP and her school without parents’ permission
•Child’s mother said her family had gone through ‘a nightmare’
By Tom Kelly, Daily Mail, 14 March, 2013
Judge Anthony Thornton condemned Haringey council for its heavy-handed approach to the abuse case
Intrusive: Judge Anthony Thornton condemned Haringey council for its heavy-handed approach to the abuse case
A mother told of her nightmare yesterday after being secretly investigated for child abuse by social workers who received a single, anonymous letter.
The woman was left ‘terrified’ that her six-year-old daughter would be removed in the probe by Haringey Council – the authority at the centre of the Baby P scandal.
After winning a ‘landmark’ case yesterday, she also spoke of her anger that the local authority had sought to avoid being named in the affair to prevent further public embarrassment.
Officials had obtained three mobile numbers and a landline phone number for the family after contacting the girl’s school without her parents’ knowledge.
The mother – who works as a social worker – said she was ‘horrified’ when a student social worker later contacted the couple to belatedly reveal they were investigating allegations of mistreatment.
Yesterday a High Court judge condemned Haringey for its ‘knee-jerk reaction’ to the unsigned letter, which was riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
This included approaching the child’s GP and her school to ask for any signs of ‘emotional and physical abuse’ of the child before they had spoken to her parents.
State snoops checking out new parents
PARENTS are being secretly judged on their views on race and diversity while in hospital with their newborn babies under the SNP Government’s latest assault on family life.
By: Ben Borland, Daily Express: Sun, May 26, 2013
During the scheme, parents are secretly monitored by maternity staff to judge their parenting skills
In a further twist, the same health board is asking children – some of them still at nursery school – to rate their parents or carers on a scale of 1-10.
The project is part of the sinister Big Brother-style system of state meddling called Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) which is being quietly rolled out across Scotland.
Last week, this newspaper exposed the “scary” plans for all children to be given a state guardian – or Named Person – who will have the legal right to tell parents how to raise their offspring.
GIRFEC also includes proposals to store a child’s personal details on a series of databases, which can be accessed by social workers, teachers and other officials.
The “parental capacity to provide wellbeing” assessment forms have been introduced in Lanarkshire under a joint programme involving the health board and local councils.
Under one part of the scheme, parents are secretly monitored by maternity staff to assess their suitability for raising children.
If they are deemed to be worthy of further investigation, another form then asks whether or not they “respect and value diversity” and give “due prominence to their racial, ethnic and cultural heritage”.
Another part of Lanarkshire’s GIRFEC “toolkit” includes a questionnaire children to rate their parents or carers on a scale of 1-10 in a range of different areas.
The youngsters, who can still be at nursery school, are given a series of prompts, including “do you have someone who listens seriously to your opinions and ideas and anything you have to say?”.
Midwives shouldn’t be lumbered with acting as social workers and parent monitors when they already have important jobs to be getting on with
Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch
Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Why is the Scottish Government so suspicious of parents? Midwives shouldn’t be lumbered with acting as social workers and parent monitors when they already have important jobs to be getting on with.
“This sort of heavy handed bureaucracy smacks of treating every new parent as a suspect and the NHS should get on with providing new parents with the best health care and support available, not policing forms about parent’s views of diversity.
“Asking nursery aged children for their ‘official’ views on their parents is a disaster waiting to happen. What happens when children don’t receive the toy that they wanted for Christmas? Public authorities should think about what it is they are trying to achieve, rather than sending out intrusive forms to young children and attempting to create creating a generation of sandbox snoopers.”
Meanwhile, despite claims that personal details will be not be stored centrally, Lanarkshire’s own GIRFEC newsletter – published in March – states that “core data about a child’s wellbeing and wider world” will soon be available to teachers at a “click of a button”.
GIRFEC is also at an advanced stage in most other council and health board areas across Scotland.
This is despite the fact that the SNP’s Children and Young Person’s Bill, which sets out much of the legal framework, has yet to be approved by Parliament.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “This is typical of the SNP wanting to probe into people’s lives too deeply.”
A spokesman for NHS Lanarkshire said most mothers and fathers would get a one-part assessment, looking at health concerns and “parenting skills”.
However, a “small proportion of families” would be subjected to a “more detailed assessment” by the midwife.
He added: “At all times, assessments are carried out in a supportive way and in partnership with the family. All information is gathered solely to support the baby’s wellbeing is only used for this purpose. Parents have the right to refuse to answer any questions they are uncomfortable with as part of the assessment.”
Family Law Week
Judgement: Re J (a child) (Learning Disabled Parent) 
Local Authority application for a supervision order in respect of a child, who it had been decided could remain in the care of his mother, with the appropriate support to be given to her to care for him in the light of her learning disabilities.
The case had been previously considered by the Court in October 2012, at which stage the local authority had sought final care and placement orders in respect of the child J, on the basis that the threshold criteria in the Children Act 1989 s.31 were met. The Court had found that the threshold was met on a limited basis only and had directed a further residential assessment for the purpose of identifying the extent to which the mother could sustain and build upon the improvements that she had been noted to make during her stay at the residential placement.
J was 5 months old at the time that the further assessment was ordered, and had remained in the care of his mother since birth, either at hospital or in the residential unit. Whilst the Court found that at the time that protective measures were instituted, J had been likely to suffer significant harm emotionally due to witnessing his father’s violent behaviour to others, and was also likely to suffer neglect, since the mother’s admission to the residential unit and the support she had received there, she had gained better insight into the authority’s concerns and had separated from the father.
The Court reminded itself of the decision of Hedley J in Re L (2007), in which it was said that the Court must guard against social engineering. In the light of the progress that the mother had made, a further assessment was directed. The outcome of that assessment had been positive, and by the time that the Court was asked to consider the final order in March 2013, agreement had been reached that a supervision order was the appropriate way forward.
Click here for full judgement
1: There really are SECRET COURTS in the UK. 215 MPs of all parties signed the “early day motion” below.
WORKING OF THE CHILDREN ACT 2004 26.10.2005
That this House urges the Government to remove the veil of secrecy from the workings of the Children Act 2004; considers that the closed door policy of the family courts breeds suspicion and a culture of secrecy which does nothing to instil confidence in those using them, which affects not just the courts but the social services departments of local authorities; and believes that it is possible to preserve the anonymity of children involved in the proceedings without the cumbersome rules which obstruct parents from receiving advice and support, which in particular works to the disadvantage of parents with special learning difficulty.
2: These courts take children from loving parents who have committed no crime. There are of course parents who brutalise and even torture or kill their children but such parents rarely go to court to recover their children; they stay as far away from courts as they possibly can! Common sense surely tells us that parents who care for their children enough to keep fighting for them in numerous very painful court actions ought to stand a good chance of winning them back. The sad fact is however that although judges often severely criticise social services in court they nearly always end up cautiously finding for the local authority and against the emotionally distraught parents. Parents are regularly condemned by “establishment judges” for neglecting their children, abusing them physically (or more often emotionally) not “beyond reasonable doubt” but “on the balance of probabilities”! Lord Denning defined this in Miller versus Ministry of Pensions as “more probable than not”Statistically,this means that the judge has at least a 51% chance of being right and probably at best 70% chance of being right so at least 30% of all forced adoptions were wrong and families split up on mere “hearsay” (statements by social workers and other persons, not in court and who could not be questioned). Wicked deeds violating parent’s basic human rights!
3: These parents lose their children for ever to adoption by strangers. The children adopted are refused access to records of their birth parents or siblings at least until they are 18, and usually for the rest of their lives.
4: Parents are GAGGED and regularly sent to prison in secret proceedings if they reveal what went on in court.
Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour all support the secret family courts and forced adoption. The only party that is interested in reforming the present system seems to be UKIP and although I do not necessarily agree with all their political views I do admire them for posting the following paragraphs on their official website under the heading ‘Families are key to the nation’s wellbeing’:
Within the past year the whole world has seen the shameful nature of our ‘secret service’ of social services and our ‘secret Family courts’ and ‘forced adoption’. It is reckoned that at least two out of six homes in an average street have had, at some time, a social service intervention. This is a measure of scale to which the unmonitored power of social services has grown.
There is nothing in the new legislation to correct this, but rather a policy line that will enable it to grow. UKIP notes with concern the removal of basic parental rights from the decision making process in the cases where children are to be adopted or taken into care and the removal of the legal duty to work with parents and to help them resolve their problems before or after the child is taken into care.
Also the removal of the adoption panel scrutiny could mean that a child is placed with adopters, even though their parents did not consent, and without there have been any external scrutiny of the plan for the child to be adopted. This has particular significance for the reforms in Clause 1 of the Bill, which could well make the position of the parents more difficult in Court hearings.
Harriet Harman (Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs) Hansard source
My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point, which she has put to me in a written question, so I know what the answer is. Last year something like 200 people were sent to prison by the family courts, which happens in complete privacy and secrecy. The idea that people are sent to prison without any reports of the proceedings makes even more important the work that we are undertaking with the family courts.
5: Establishment judges make decisions to take thousands of babies for risk of possible future emotional abuse.
Extract from The Times, Aug 23 2007: “Emotional abuse” has no strict definition in British law. Yet it now accounts for an astounding 21 per cent of all children registered as needing protection, up from 14 per cent in 1997. Last year 6,700 children were put on the child protection register for emotional abuse, compared with only 2,600 for sexual abuse and 5,100 for physical abuse. Both of the latter two categories have been falling steadily. Meanwhile emotional abuse and “neglect” – which replaced the old notion of “grave concern” in 1989 – have been rising. Both are catch-alls. But emotional abuse is especially vague. It covers children who have not been injured, have not complained, and do not come under “emotional neglect”.
6: No jury would take babies from mothers because some expert made predictions of their future behaviour.
(Extract from The Sunday Times, Nov 18th 2007):A review is still going on of 700 cases in which bogus forensic scientist Gene Morrison gave evidence. Morrison, 48, from Manchester who was sentenced to five years for fraud in February, admitted he pretended to be an expert witness and bought his qualifications on the internet because it “seemed easier” than getting real ones. For many of the genuinely qualified experts, legal work is a lucrative sideline, and if they are perceived to be able to “tailor” their evidence convincingly, the commissions keep flowing in. John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP campaigning about the misuse of medical evidence, says fees for a basic written opinion, based on reading through existing files, start at £4,000. If the expert concludes there is a case to answer, they attract court attendance fees as well.
“I have known experts get as much as £28,000 for one report,” said Hemming, who is lobbying for experts to be required to produce the scientific publications on which their opinion is based: “Unless we start using evidence-based evidence in court, we will get nowhere.”
7: Criminals facing 6+ months in prison can demand a jury; parents losing their children for life cannot.
8: Carefully selected pregnant mothers with vulnerable backgrounds but often with no criminal records or disabilities are told their babies will be taken at birth! Equally carefully selected are the “expert” psychiatists and psychologists who regularly “work” with the family courts and are eager to practice their latest “psychobabble theories”. They are therefore only too willing to earn their generous fees and diagnose nearly every unfortunate mother presented to them by social services with a”borderline personality disorder” or to report that she “represents a risk of emotional abuse” to her children. Sometimes they will even diagnose a really hostile mother as “unfit” to instruct a solicitor! “The Official Solicitor” is then appointed for her! He will inevitably agree with everything the local authority demands and will refuse to let the aggrieved mother say a word! The result in nearly all these cases is that babies and quite often all the other children from the same families are taken into care for eventual adoption by strangers.
9: Local authorities are rewarded by central government for reaching “adoption targets” hence adoption is prioritised.
10: Fosterers get up to £400/week/ child,special schools up to £7000/week/child,adoption agencies,experts lawyers all cash in lavishly!
Maybe this family barrister tried to hard for her parent clients and annoyed the SS in doing so. Read the consequences in this Sunday Telegraph article by Christopher Booker below:
The lawyer mother who beat the social workers
A barrister who fought for parents trying to keep their children found herself a victim of the same system
The more the mother expressed unhappiness about the situation the social worker had created, the more she was told she was being ‘obstructive’
Christopher Booker, Daily Telegraph, 6 Apr 2013
Whenever I report a new story of parents struggling to prevent social workers seizing their children for what seems no good reason, I try to give a new slant on the wider picture of how our ”child protection’’ system has gone so tragically off the rails.What makes this week’s example so unusual is that it centres on a barrister who for 10 years fought hundreds of cases on behalf of parents trying to hold on to their children, in a system where she describes them as being “like lambs led to slaughter” – only to find herself a victim of the same system after she complained to the police over serious allegations made by her older daughter against the girl’s father.
The police called in Barnet social services, who initially shared the mother’s concerns, advising that the girl should have no more contact with her drug-addicted father. But when a new social worker took over, she took the opposite view, working for the child to live with the father. This made the girl so miserable that she took to self-harming by slashing herself, leaving her mother distraught.
The more the mother expressed unhappiness about the situation the social worker had created, the more she was told she was being ”obstructive’’ and that there were “concerns about her parenting”. Last December she was summoned to a meeting to be told that the council wished to apply for care orders on both her children. Knowing how automatically the courts grant such orders, the mother – who although British was also an Israeli citizen – saw her only hope of retaining her children was to escape to Israel.
Within 36 hours, having obtained written permission from the older girl’s father, she took her daughters, now aged 14 and five, on several flights across Europe, terrified each time they landed that she might be arrested by police.
Scarcely had they arrived in Israel than she heard that the council had been granted care orders. Barnet approached our embassy in Tel Aviv to arrange for the children to be deported to Britain, with the co-operation of Israeli social services. After assessing the family, however, the Israelis advised that they could see no reason why the children – now having nightmares about being returned – should not remain in Israel.
In Britain the matter returned to court before a circuit judge, who criticised Barnet for its “relentless” pursuit of the family, ordering a further hearing in February. At this, although the social worker testified that the older girl had said that she would be happy to live in foster care in England, the mother was allowed to take part by video link, along with a “guardian” from the court advisory service, Cafcass, who had interviewed the 14-year-old on Skype. When the guardian supported the children’s wish to remain with their mother, the judge ruled that the children were now out of English jurisdiction, ordering Barnet to withdraw its case.
The two overjoyed children are thus free to continue living with their mother in Israel, with no more nightmares about being bundled on to a plane to live with strangers 2,000 miles from what they now regard as their new home.
Says the mother, in words many other parents would echo, “It seems my only real mistake was to dare to seek help from the authorities in the first place.”
Here is an update from the mother above:
Walking along the street in a sunny suburb of Tel Aviv, I hold my five year old daughter’s hand. As we approach an uncovered manhole, I tell Talya to be careful and watch where she is going. Talya pauses, and looks up at me with her huge eyes and asks, “Why mummy, is that because if children fall down there they will never see their mummy again?”. I look at this sweet wonderful child, pause for a moment, and reply “no my darling, I don’t want you falling in and getting hurt”. Talya grips my hand slighter tighter, and skips by my side as we continue.
I do not go on to explain to Talya that the dark hole is not the hole in the street. The dark hole was a most terrifying journey that we were swept up into in London, England. An abysmal Kafkesque nightmare where the state has the power to inflict a sentence worse than capital punishment. The removal of a child from the parent. I did not go on to explain to Talya that we had become caught up into the oppressive and powerful world of child protection perpetuated by a system that seeks to ‘perfect’ this legislative machinery.
I do not explain to Talya that the report I made to the police about some rather concerning allegations made by her sister against her father would result in us fleeing the country. I do not explain that Barnet social services initially shared my concerns and requested that I enter into a written agreement to allow my older daughter to have supervised contact only with her father.
Following this agreement and many months later the same local authority actively supported my older daughter living with her father.
I do not tell Talya that I have spent the previous two years trying to persuade social services that my daughter was at risk, and, in her father’s care, had become locked in a cycle of self-harm and depression. Each time I was accused of being ‘obstructive’ and undermining the work of the local authority. I was told that my ex-husband was a ‘work in progress’ and that ‘changes were being implemented’.
I do not tell Talya that when her sister could tolerate the position no longer at her father’s house (despite social services insisting that she remain there), she returned to my care.
I did not explain that on 3rd December 2012 I was called to a meeting with Shankha Iqbal, the social worker and her manager. I was told during that meeting that there ‘are serious concerns about my parenting’. I pressed for an explanation as to what these concerns were. I was told that despite being aware of the risks posed by my ex-husband , I allowed my older daughter to remain in his care.
One day I will tell Talya that things often do not make sense. I will one day explain to her that ‘The Trial’ in Alice in Wonderland was not purely a work of fiction.
I do not tell Talya that the trip to Israel was in fact not a ‘surprise holiday’ but an escape from a court process whereby she and her sister could have been permanently removed from my care. I do not explain that the game we played on our journey from Luton to Budapest to Warsaw to Israel was not really a game but that we were ‘hiding’ from port officials as the ports may have been alerted.
I will tell Talya one day that Sophocles was correct; the law of the state can be morally incorrect. There is an Antigone in each of us.
I will tell Talya that the laws, or arguably the interpretation of the laws, can be fundamentally flawed leading to tragic moral repurcussions. She will understand that as a mother and as a family law barrister, I have an interest in each hemisphere and was torn between morality and the legal system. One day my daughters will understand that I will continuously support reform in this inept area of law so that parents in the future will not be faced with a similarly excruciating situation ever again.
Talya continues to skip along by my side and we buy ice-cream.
Neil has an IQ of 125 and runs his own business. So why won’t a secret court let him spend his own money?
Daily Mail, 29 April 2013
A secret court is controlling £2billion of assets of thousands of elderly and mentally impaired people and paying them a paltry rate of interest, the Mail reveals today. The controversial actions of the Court of Protection, which one MP has criticised as ‘bordering on malpractice’, are supposed to uphold the interests of 16,000 vulnerable people – but many claim they destroy the value of savings. Here SUE REID tells the story of Neil Barker, a successful businessman whose finances have been at the mercy of the court since he was injured in a horrific accident.
Neil Barker is, in many ways, a lucky man. At 36, he has a loving girlfriend, Valeria, a five-bedroom house overlooking the park in a smart West London suburb — and he’s made a dramatic recovery from a motorbike crash ten years ago which left him with brain injuries.
All he wants to do is to get on with his life as a successful computer consultant and property restorer — without interference from the State.
But a huge sum of his money is lying in a State bank account controlled by a hidden corner of the legal system: the astonishingly powerful Court of Protection, which has decreed that Neil’s accident means he lacks the mental capacity to handle his own financial affairs.
Neil, who is chatty and clearly lucid, told me last week: ‘It is very stressful to be told by the State that I am not able to make decisions about my own money or investments, especially when that is untrue and I have recovered my health.
‘I was given £1.8 million in compensation by the insurance company after my accident. A lot of that has been frittered away over time by the Court of Protection and I am powerless to do anything to stop it.’
His story is shocking. But Neil is just one of thousands of people whose financial assets are being managed by the Court of Protection (CoP), which was set up by New Labour’s 2005 Mental Capacity Act to make decisions for ill, confused or elderly people deemed to lack the ability to do so for themselves.
The CoP has draconian and sweeping powers. Judges, sitting alone and in secrecy, deal with thousands of cases a year, making far-reaching rulings about almost every aspect of citizens’ lives — and often those of their relatives, too.
They can compel people to undergo surgery, use contraception or have abortions.
They can decide if a life-support system is switched off, where a person lives and with whom — even if their marriage should be annulled and whether their last will and testament is torn up.
Equally controversially, the CoP judges can authorise what are called Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS), which allow council or NHS officials to restrain someone in a hospital, care home or re-training facility for as long as the State deems it to be ‘in their best interests’.
The Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who is campaigning for more openness in the CoP, estimates that there are hundreds of these ‘secret prisoners’ across the country.
And while it might seem essential to have a court taking decisions to protect the vulnerable, the secrecy with which the CoP operates — with the public barred from hearings and the Press forbidden from identifying people involved in cases — is deeply disturbing.
Individuals who have disobeyed the court’s rulings or spoken out about what has happened to them or their relatives — even to their local MP — have been threatened with, or sent to, prison.
A legal expert who regularly attends CoP hearings says that the numbers imprisoned for falling foul of the court in the past five years may run into hundreds.
Just last week, the Mail revealed the case of Wanda Maddocks, who was sentenced to five months in prison by the CoP when she objected to her father, John, being sent to a care home against her will.
She has been able to reveal her story only because her father has died.
There is another power of this court that is also highly contentious. Astonishingly, £2 billion of vulnerable people’s money is now under the control of the CoP.
This enormous sum is held by another State offshoot, the Court Funds Office (CFO), which has the role of ‘providing a safe place’ for the funds.
Extraordinarily, as I have discovered, the money is in fact being used to help reduce our national debt figure.
The CFO has sent the £2 billion to the UK Debt Management Office, an agency of the Treasury, where the funds are set against the billions that this country owes.
Furthermore, the life savings of those suffering from dementia, incapacitating diseases, or even old age — as well as people like Neil Barker, who have received accident compensation pay-outs and are deemed unable to run their financial affairs — are paid a paltry interest rate for the use of their money by the State: currently 0.5 per cent, just a third of the rate paid by National Savings.
Understandably, many of those who are caught up in the system object that they are left badly out-of-pocket.
Some families find that even though the CoP is in charge of their loved ones’ multi-million-pound negligence or accident awards, the money is not earning enough interest to cover their needs — even though its investment is meant to fund a lifetime of care.
Once the COP decides a person is incapable of handling their finances, a so-called deputy is appointed to make day-to-day decisions about their money.
The deputy is appointed by the judge and can be a family member. If no relative is suitable, then the court will choose a local authority representative, often a social worker, or a solicitor to carry out the task.
Many families are left in the unenviable position of having to ask the officially appointed deputy for money to care for their loved ones — and appeal to the CoP if they disagree with the decision.
Needless to say, thousands have complained about the court since 2007, when it began operations.
There are allegations of its officials — including some deputies — charging exorbitant fees, over-riding the wishes of relatives, frittering away money, raiding the elderly’s homes searching for documents and intercepting personal emails.
In a depressingly typical case, children’s author Heather Bateman was forced to seek permission from the court to use family funds after an accident left her journalist husband Michael in a coma.
She wrote a moving account of her family’s ordeal in Saga magazine: ‘Michael and I were two independent working people.
‘We had been married for 28 years. We had separate bank accounts and most of the bills were paid from Michael’s account.
‘Now, to continue living the way we had always done, I needed to access the money in his account.
‘The Court of Protection brought almost as much anger, grief and frustration into my life as the accident itself.
‘It is an alien, intrusive, time-consuming and costly institution, which was completely out of tune with what we were going through. It ruled my waking moments and my many sleepless nights.’
Mrs Bateman even had to apply to the court for permission to pay the couple’s daughter’s university fees.
‘I could write as many cheques as I wanted up to £500. But if I needed more, I had to ask the permission of the court.’
Fury over the CoP has erupted on social networking sites and on help forums set up by charities.
Only recently the Alzheimer’s Society received this heartbreaking plea for help: ‘My family is having severe problems with a solicitor who has been appointed by the CoP as deputy for my mother of 87, who unfortunately suffers from dementia.
‘They have managed to make a complete mess of my mother’s affairs. She had capital of £40,000 and income of £850 a month.
‘Her expenditure (predominantly on carers) was approximately £2,500 a month, meaning that, by now, she should have £27,000 of her capital left.
‘However, we are in a situation where her bank account is overdrawn. There are unpaid bills and direct debits.
‘The carers have not been paid so, understandably, some are reluctant to continue working. This means my mother is not receiving the care she needs.
‘We are at our wits’ end, trying to find out why there is no money to meet her obligations. What really frightens me is what would happen to someone with no family to support them?’
This family is not alone. Stories of incompetence and even possible fraud have emerged in blogs and forums about the CoP.
In particular, there are tales of exorbitant fees charged by deputies. One retired lawyer was asked for £4,100 in fees to withdraw £5,800 of her own money.
In another case, the proceeds of the sale of a house, authorised by the CoP deputy, were paid into the wrong account.
And one family was charged £42,000 in fees for the legal paperwork to transfer a sick daughter’s care to her mother after the father died.
But not all the grievances are about money. Take the case which emerged last year of pensioners Norman Davies and Peggy Ross, who were looking forward to going on their annual cruise when Cardiff Council intervened.
The council argued that it was not in the ‘best interests’ of 82-year-old Mrs Ross, who has dementia and lives in a care home, to go on the holiday.
Mrs Ross’s social worker decided the pensioner lacked the capacity to make a decision about whether she should go on the £3,200 cruise because ‘her ideas were not based in reality’.
She said the council was worried that Mrs Ross might wander off on the ship or fall overboard.
Just before the holiday, the council went to the CoP to obtain a DOLS to prevent Mrs Ross leaving her care home.
The judge, to his credit, refused to make the order, which has allowed details of the case to become public. The couple duly enjoyed a 16-day cruise around the Mediterranean.
The Lib Dem MP John Hemming is campaigning for more openness in the Court of Protection and estimates there are hundreds of ‘secret prisoners’ across the country
However, lawyers and MPs have said it illustrates how the CoP is being used by council apparatchiks — social workers and care home workers, in particular — to meddle with and control people’s lives.
Mr Davies, a lucid 81-year-old former engineer, who lives near Newport, said after the holiday: ‘They tried to strip Peggy of her rights completely. The whole thing was disgusting from start to finish.’
He is not the only person to think that of the CoP. At one recent hearing, a desperate mother asked the court to allow the life-support machine keeping her brain- damaged daughter alive to be switched off.
As is standard in the court, the daughter was referred to only by the letter ‘M’ to protect her identity.
But the judge also issued a Draconian injunction imposing secrecy for as long as ‘M’ lived.
The ruling barred the media or anyone interested in the case from approaching a list of 65 people who play, or had played, some part in the girl’s life.
And it stifled any reasonable debate on the moral issues of the case and stopped her own family publicly expressing their views on what should happen or why.
The injunction made clear that those who made such inquiries, apart from to the solicitors of ‘M’, would be sent to prison or have their assets seized as a punishment.
This would probably not come as a surprise to Neil Barker. He says his life is being ruined by the CoP and that the court has lost him thousands of pounds.
This week, he told me that, after his motorbike crash in April 2003, he struggled to carry out everyday tasks because of a brain injury. Even going to the shops to buy groceries was a major challenge.
His family, to whom he is still close, were worried that he would not be able to manage his own money.
And when he won £1.8 million in a personal injury claim after the accident, they agreed that Neil’s pay-out should be placed in a CoP-controlled account.
A solicitor from the firm which dealt with the injury claim was appointed as his deputy by the CoP to make financial decisions on his behalf.
Neil says: ‘I thought at the time it would be nice not to worry about money, that it would be like an ordinary bank account with added security. But I was wrong.
‘Now I have made a full recovery, but the CoP refuses to let go.
‘I have trained as a computer engineer. I have renovated a house successfully and sold it for a profit.
‘I am well enough to run my own business, to manage my own finances, but I am not being allowed to do so by this court and the deputy.’
Neil explains that his own home was bought with £1.2 million from his pay-out — money the CoP agreed to release for the purchase.
Judges at the Court of Protection sit alone and in secrecy making decisions about almost every aspect of citizens’ lives
But he adds: ‘The rest of the funds have been allowed to dwindle away. The interest rate on the money at the Bank of England account is so low that I estimate I have lost £75,000 over the years.’
At one stage — before the banking collapse and interest rates fell — Neil discovered that the bank where he was fixing the computers would have paid him eight times more in interest than what he was receiving from the CoP account.
That is not his only grievance. During his fight to free himself — and his money — from the clutches of the CoP, he has undergone a series of independent medical examinations which, he claims, prove he has fully recovered from his brain injury.
The DVLA has also tested his driving and found him completely capable of driving a car. The cost of £4,500 for these checks had to be paid for by Neil himself.
Yet, still the CoP and the deputy have prevaricated and refused to release his money.
‘The most recent medical tests were two years ago by an eminent doctor who said I was like any other normal person,’ says Neil now. ‘My IQ was found to be more than 125, which is well above average.’
Speaking with the permission of his solicitor this week — who says his story is in the public domain because of a BBC interview he gave two years ago — Neil added, with some anger: ‘I am quite capable of managing my financial affairs, yet I am still being told by the court and the deputy that it is not the case.
‘I am continuing my fight and I am starting legal proceedings against the CoP.’
It will be an epic battle, but one that most people in Britain must surely hope he wins.
My baby will be taken from me the moment it’s born
By HELEN WEATHERS Daily Mail 6th September 2007
The link below connects to a video of a very informative itv programme:-
The daughter of teachers and with a glittering academic future, Fran was delighted when she became pregnant. But social services discovered the illness she thought she’d put behind her – and will confiscate her daughter when she is born…Fran Lyon is due to give birth to her first child – a daughter she has already named Molly – on January 3. But the prospect, far from being one of joyous anticipation, fills her with a dread that keeps her awake at night.It’s not because Fran doesn’t want the child. She does. Desperately. And not because she is frightened of the pain of labour. She is prepared for that.
It is what happens afterwards that fuels Fran’s anxiety. And there can be no preparation for that pain.
For within 30 minutes of birth, barring any medical complications, Molly will be handed by doctors to social workers. They have instructions to take away Fran’s newborn baby and place her in foster care.
The 22-year-old will then be transferred from the maternity wing to a gynaecological ward, because Northumberland Council has decided that Fran – who has never harmed anyone in her life – is potentially a risk to other mothers and their babies.
Fran has no idea if she will be able to touch her baby, even for a minute, before leaving hospital alone, or if she will ever get her daughter back. Her biggest fear is that she won’t, and that Molly will be put up for adoption.
‘It is incredibly upsetting not knowing if I will be allowed even to hold my baby,’ says Fran, a charity worker. ‘Until social services became involved in my life, I was having a normal pregnancy and was full of excitement.
‘They have taken away what should be the most precious time in my life – and I will never get that back. I’m already in love with my baby. I can feel her moving, I talk to her. I’ve bought her baby books and clothes. You just can’t undo that attachment.’
Fran is an intelligent and articulate woman. She has nine A- starred GCSEs, five grade A A-levels and is in the third year of a neuroscience degree at Edinburgh University – which she is completing at home in Hexham, Northumberland.
However, what concerns Hexham Children’s Services, which is part of Northumberland Council, is Fran’s medical history.
Having had a difficult relationship with her parents, who are teachers in good state schools, from the age of 15, she started selfharming. Fran spent three years – on and off – in psychiatric hospitals.
Her problems appear to have begun when she was raped by an acquaintance at the age of 14. Diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, she was discharged from a therapeutic facility in 2002, where she had spent 13 months, and spent nine months as an outpatient.
Today, she needs no medication and, according to her former psychiatrist, Dr Stella Newrith, ‘has made a significant recovery to the point where her difficulties are indistinguishable from those of much of the general population’.
In a letter to Northumberland Council, Dr Newrith, who treated Fran for a year when she was 16 and has known her for many years, stated: ‘There has never been any clinical evidence to suggest that Fran would put herself or others at risk, and there is certainly no evidence to suggest she would put a child at risk of emotional, physical or sexual harm.’
Furthermore, she said: ‘I would view the removal of Fran’s baby as an extraordinarily heavy-handed gesture. It is also my professional opinion that doing so would be an infringement of Fran’s human rights, as it would be much the same as removing a child from someone from the general population.’
Yet on August 16, a child protection case conference recommended that Fran’s baby should be taken away at birth – a decision based in part on the contents of a letter from consultant paediatrician Dr Martin Ward Platt, who has never met Fran and could not be present at the meeting.
In his letter, Dr Ward Platt states that ‘even in the absence of psychological assessment, if the professionals were concerned on the evidence available that [this woman] probably does fabricate or induce illness, there would be no option but to put the baby into foster care at birth pending a post-natal forensic psychological assessment’.
However, he warned that it was necessary first to establish as far as possible whether or not Fran does suffer from this illness – something Fran claims they have failed to do.
Fran has never been diagnosed with this condition, yet she has nevertheless been deemed by Northumberland Council as someone likely to suffer from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, a controversial and unproven condition in which a parent – usually the mother – makes up or induces an illness in her child to draw attention to herself.
And so, unless a judicial review next week rules in Fran’s favour, her baby Molly will almost certainly be taken away at birth.
‘I can understand why they might have concerns about my past, but the speed with which they have come to this conclusion, despite the evidence of my own psychiatrist, is terrifying,’ she says.
‘I was at the case conference and it lasted just ten minutes.
‘This letter from Dr Ward Platt was given to me just five minutes before the meeting started, and when it was produced, the chairman said there was no point – in the light of what this letter stated – even considering the other evidence which I wanted to present, which was letters of support from psychiatrists.
‘I think they simply panicked, and when people panic they make, in my opinion, bad judgments. I left that meeting numb with shock. I’d had absolutely no time to digest the letter or argue my case, and I was so horrified at what they’d said that I just couldn’t even begin to respond to it.
‘I have never harmed anyone in my life. I have no criminal convictions. I believe I can be a good mother to Molly – but they are not even prepared to give me a chance to prove that.
‘I have offered to stay in a mother and baby unit after Molly’s birth for as long as they want, and to be monitored. I would be prepared to stay there for 18 years if it meant I could be with my baby. But that, it seems, is not even an option.’
Fran’s case is far from unusual. Two thousands babies under one year old were taken from their parents last year by social services – three times the number ten years ago. Critics believe councils are doing this to help meet government adoption ‘targets’.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group, certainly thinks so.
‘How can it be in the child’s best interests to take a baby away from its mother at birth? The reason why they do it is because it’s much harder to take away a baby the longer it spends with its mother, and a healthy newborn baby is so much easier to find adoptive parents for.
‘It is estimated that 97 per cent of babies taken away from their mothers at birth, on the basis that the mothers are “capable of emotional abuse”, are never returned to them – and that is simply scandalous.
‘Of course, there are cases where it is right to do so, but the whole public family law system is corrupt because of the secrecy which surrounds it. Decisions are based on opinion and conjecture, rather than fact and evidence.
‘What does Fran’s case tell us? That no woman who has been raped or had mental health problems can be allowed to have a baby, even years later?
‘What could be more traumatic than for a mother to have her baby taken away at birth? It’s monstrous. That, in itself, can cause mental health problems, which is then used by social services against the mother as a reason not to return the baby. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
‘There has been a massive increase in younger babies being taken into care, before there is even any evidence of harm – and you have to ask why that is.’
Despite her own troubled past, Fran Lyon is convinced she can be a good parent, and is desperate to prove that. From the start, she has been open and honest with social workers about her medical history, but she feels this has been used against her.
Although she describes her childhood as ‘difficult’, she refuses to elaborate, other than to say that she is close to her mother and younger brother, but has no contact with her father.
The catalyst for her severe mental health problems was, she says, the rape she suffered when she was 14.
She told police that she was attacked while working as a Saturday volunteer in a charity shop in Northampton, when the shop’s founder – a middle-aged man – drove her to an empty warehouse supposedly to pick up supplies for the shop.
When Fran reported the rape, he was interviewed by police. Three more women claiming they, too, had been attacked came forward and agreed to testify against him. However, in 2001 the man killed himself before the Crown Prosecution Service could decide whether to proceed.
‘After the rape, I became clinically depressed,’ says Fran. ‘I lost a huge amount of weight and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill myself with an overdose of tablets. It wasn’t a cry for help; I wanted to die because of what he had done to me.’
She spent the next three years, on and off, in residential psychiatric hospitals in Oxford, Nottingham and London after being diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, in her case characterised by self-harming, instability and suicidal tendencies.
For the final 13 months, Fran went to a therapeutic residential clinic, where she attended individual psychotherapy sessions and group analysis before being discharged as an outpatient.
By the time she was 18, she appeared to have put her problems behind her.
She started to flourish, taking five A-levels at Orpington College in Kent and applying to study neuroscience at Edinburgh University.
At the same time, she worked for two mental health charities, Borderline and Personality Plus. It was through that job, two years ago, that she met the man who is the father of Molly.
‘Of course, I was worried when I fell pregnant. I wondered how we would cope as a couple, because we weren’t living together,’ says Fran.
‘But once that wore off, I was excited. I would go shopping with my mum to baby departments, buying books and looking at prams.’
But a few weeks ago, all normality ended. Social services suddenly became involved when Fran phoned the police after what she describes as a ‘disturbing incident’ with her partner. Fran’s relationship with him ended immediately.
‘The case was referred to social services and I was interviewed by two social workers, who said from the beginning that they would have to look at the whole family, not just one person in isolation,’ says Fran.
‘At that first meeting, they asked about my concerns regarding the baby’s father, but then it became clear through their questions that their investigation was centred on me. I have never made a secret of my mental health problems. I felt I had nothing to hide.’
Fran was co- operative, she says, because she naively thought children’s services would offer her help and support. She was stunned when she received a letter informing her that a child protection case conference would be held on August 16.
‘That’s when I became frightened and thought for the first time: “Are they going to take my baby away from me?”
‘I couldn’t believe how everything had happened so quickly. When you are up against a big system such as social services, it is very easy to feel overrun and overwhelmed.’
Realising the seriousness of the situation, Fran instructed a solicitor and contacted her former psychiatrist, Dr Stella Newrith, who offered her full support.
A second psychiatrist, who Fran knew through her charity work, offered a character reference stating: ‘I have no doubt that her diligence and capacity, particularly in dealing with complex emotional situations, will stand her in good stead for the rigours of parenthood.’
Yet these testimonials, Fran says, were never even read out at the conference after Dr Ward Platt’s letter was produced.
Northumberland Council insists that two highly experienced doctors – another consultant paediatrician and a medical consultant – attended the case conference.
Neither they, nor anyone else present – including Fran solicitor – made any objection. Feeling stunned and intimidated by what she had heard, she felt unable to speak out.
Everything she wanted to say will now be heard – with the help of a new solicitor who specialises in such cases – at appeal.
According to MP John Hemming, Fran should win her case; but there is no guarantee that she will. Both he and Fran are particularly concerned that last week social workers contacted the psychiatrist who provided a character reference for Fran. They believe this was done with the intention of ‘pressurising’ the witness into withdrawing his support, and undermining Fran’s appeal.
It was seemingly suggested by a social worker to the doctor in question that Fran had given incorrect details about her health to hospital staff: in short, doubt was cast on the reality of an ectopic pregnancy Fran suffered on Christmas Eve two years ago.
‘Is it ethical for social workers to go behind my back and speak to my witnesses, discussing my private confidential medical history and suggesting to them that I might have made things up?’ says Fran.
‘I did have an ectopic pregnancy, and I have the scars to prove that I had abdominal surgery.’ Mr Hemming goes further, describing such behaviour as akin to witness nobbling. He also claims it is not uncommon for social workers to pressurise witnesses – a punishable practice in the criminal courts.
‘There is a culture in which the end is seen to justify the means, and sometimes the means employed would not be tolerated in any other court of law,’ he says. ‘Yet if anyone tries to speak out, they are guilty of contempt of court. The whole family court system, because of the secrecy which surrounds it, is vulnerable to bad practice. Social workers are under pressure not to lose cases.’ Northumberland Council, while legally prevented from speaking about individual cases, insists there is nothing sinister in their actions.
A spokeswoman said it was the court whichwould make the ultimate decision, after hearing legal representation from both sides. ‘Safeguarding children is our top priority,’ said a spokeswoman. ‘We speak to all sides without bias or pressure. ‘We would welcome a review of the family court arrangements, and support transparency, as long as this is in the best interests of the children.
‘Safeguarding arrangements have been praised as good following a rigorous inspection by a number of Government departments. It was specifically noted that “good action was taken to enable parents to keep their children safe in the home and the communityî. Our duty to safeguard children is our only motivation, and we strive to keep children with their families wherever possible, or extended families if that is not possible.
‘We do not have numerical targets for adoption; nor have we received any financial rewards in relation to adoption figures.’
As for Fran, the final four months of her pregnancy are filled with stress and uncertainty, and the nagging terror that her worst nightmare will become a reality and her baby daughter will be snatched away from her. ‘Some days I feel positive,’ she says quietly.
‘But others I feel totally overwhelmed. All I am asking for is a chance to prove that I will be a good mother.’
Sadly, that wish may not be granted her.
IMPORTANT! The miserable wretch who was chairman of the so called “Case Conference” that lasted 15 minutes should be dismissed in disgrace. His name is BOB HILL and he should never be allowed near any case conference ever again !
AND THEN? Fran flees the country, see the link below!
|Download Form N434, Notice of change of solicitor, Court Service Forms, Administrative Court.Just to emphasise important guiderules…..Remember that social workers ARE NOT POLICE and cannot give you orders or forbid you to tell your children that you love them,miss them and are fighting to get them back! It is absolutely essential that you blurt out “I love you and want you back but wicked childstealers have kidnapped you and these horrible thieves are stopping you from coming home !” Say this or words to that effect before anyone can stop you as SS nearly always tell children “mummy does not love you or want you any more” and the children MUST know the truth. Only a court can legally give you orders so do not be bluffed into signing documents or obeying orders from the SS !Social Workers have a statutory duty to try and keep families together not split them up ,so they should be asked in court just what attempts they made to keep YOUR family together before taking the baby or the children !QUOTE THE “HUMAN RIGHTS ACT”section 8:-
Article 8: Right to Respect for Private and Family Life
This guarrantee applies also to the rights of grandparents,siblings,aunts,uncles,and cousins to remain in contact with each other contrary to the forced adoption of a child by adopters whose names and locations are kept secret!
Article 10, European Convention on Human Rights
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of expression. Before the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force, the right to freedom of expression was a negative one: you were free to express yourself, unless the law otherwise prevented you from doing so. With the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into English and Welsh domestic law, the right to freedom of expression is now expressly guaranteed.
BUT see how they break the law by censoring what a mother can say to a 12 year old child! Most parents have to sign something similar or contact is stopped !
Supervised contact will take place three times a week. Currently there are two regular sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays, between 3;30 and 4;45pmLukes Social Worker will make arrangements on a weekly basis in regards to the third supervised session until a contact supervisor can be allocated.
Contact betweenLuke and his mum wll be supervised by a contact supervisor at all times. The contact sessions will take place at the West Area Duty and Family Support Teams offices.
Telephone contact is to take place only under Lukes foster carers supervision.Telephone contact is to only last five minutes and is to be initiated by Luke only.
Ms Marques is expected to end the telephone conversation herself in an appropriate way once the five minutes have lapsed.
Luke will be transported from school and to the foster placement by a professional appointed by the West Area Duty and Family Support Team.
Ms Marques is expected to support Luke while he is staying with his foster carer.
She is not to encourage Luke to have any other form of contact with her apart from what has been officially agreed with the Local Authority. The Local Authority is worried that ms Marques has limited insight into how her functioning impacts upon Luke and that there is a risk that Lukes placement will be de-stabilised and Luke experience further emotional harm as a result of this.
Ms Marques is strongly advised ; to engage with Luke in a child centered positive way during contact. If she finds this difficult she is encouraged to request support/advice from the contact supervisor.
The contact supervisor will from now on make activities available during contact. Ms Marques is advised to engage with these activities and encourage Luke to do so aswell.
Ms Marques is encouraged to bring board games with her etc that she and Luke might enjoy playing during contact.
Ms Marques should not discuss issues relating to the ongoing court proceedings. If in any case Luke brings up the subject himself she is to encourage him to discuss these issues with his social worker and/or guardian.
Ms Marques should not make reference to herself and her current situation if this will result in Luke feeling worried/guilty about ” mum being on her own”.
Ms Marques is to make reference to Lukes father and paternal side of the family in a positive way at all times.
Ms Marques is expected to make reference to all professionals involved with Luke in a positive way.She is to encourage Luke to be open and trusting of these professionals.
If Ms Marques feels anxious/unwell she is expected to seek help from her GP and /or her mental health key-worker. Lukes social worker is to be notified of this as soon as that is possible. If in any case contact is to be affected, then Ms Marques is expected to make contact with Lukes social worker immediately.
Ms M is expected to keep to all the points made in this written agreement.
If Ms Marques fails to keep to any of the expectations as set out by this written agreement; it is made clear that the contact supervisor has been instructed that contact is to be stopped, and Ms Marques will be asked to leave.
The Local Authority will also review the contact arrangements and amend them as necessary to promote and ensure Lukes welfare and safety.
This is not a legally binding document and all relevant parties are encouraged to seek legal advise if they wish to do so.
Any changes to contact will take place only once an updated written agreement has been drafted and signed by all relevant parties.
Article 12 (child’s right to participate in decision making)
NEVER,NEVER lose contact with your young children,just read the paragraphs below !! Send them your phone number buried in the middle of a cd rom (disc),written on a doll,written in invisible ink on a seemingly innocent postcard,or simply whispered in their ears at a suitable moment.
Alternatively if your name is Jane for example,register an easy email address (eg) firstname.lastname@example.org Any child old enough to send an email will then be able to contact you no matter where you are or where they are! If the child has no easy access to a computer ,then a visit for “study purposes’ to any public library will also allow free use of one of their computers to send emails free of charge !
If on the other hand your baby or toddler is being snatched insist on breastfeeding a baby as this gives you extra contact.
Citation: BLD 160403280;  EWHC 850 (Admin). Hearing Date: 15 April 2003 Court: Administrative Court. Judge: Munby J.
“Per curiam. If the state, in the guise of a local authority, seeks to remove a baby from his parents at a time when its case against the parents has not yet even been established, then the very least the state can do is to make generous arrangements for contact, those arrangements being driven by the needs of the family and not stunted by lack of resources. Typically, if this is what the parents want, one will be looking to contact most days of the week and for lengthy periods. Local authorities also had to be sensitive to the wishes of a mother who wants to breast-feed, and should make suitable arrangements to enable her to do so, and not merely to bottle-feed expressed breast milk. Nothing less would meet the imperative demands of the European Convention on Human Rights.”…
Published Date 16/04/2003
This case establishes the right of the mother to breastfeed,and is often ignored both by SS and judges!
Fight for parents,grandparents,aunts,uncles,and cousins all to have contact under the Human Rights Act. (see section “get your children back”)
Children of all ages even those as young as 6 or 7 years old for example ,can go to any public phone box and call parents reverse charges if they are quietly told how to do this,explained as follows:-
Dial 100 from any private phone or public call box and you will be offered 4 options(choices) Choose option4 which asks if you want to speak to an operator.You then ask the operator for a call reversing the charges. The operator will then ask you for your name and the number you are calling.(this must be to a fixed line not a mobile)Your mother or father will then say ok they accept the call and no money is needed from you, the child who is calling! If your children are still with you or at least in contact get them to practice telephoning you reverse charge so that if the worst does happen and they are removed then contact is NEVER lost !! Remember also that if no court order forbids you expressly and specifically from contacting the children there is nothing to stop you seeing them when they come out of school (even nursery school!).
Remember that all children “in care” have “personal education plans”that the SS are supposed to share with you.If you know where the school is you know where your child is !Ask the local education authorities(NOT the SS !) for a copy of these plans and ask also to be put on their mailing list so you can continue to follow your children’s progress even after they have been snatched !
What are the timescales for dealing with requests?
Requests for information from pupils, or parents, for information that contains, wholly
or partly, an educational record must receive a response within 15 school days.
Unless a parent simply asks to see the official educational record under the
Regulations, schools and authorities are entitled to receive any fee first (see below).
Most requests for information are likely to ask for at least some information in the
educational record. However, should a subject access request be made just for
personal information outside the educational record, a response must be made promptly and at most within 40 calendar days.
YOU MUST BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK IN COURT AND TO SAY ALL YOU WANT TO SAY,CALL ALL THE WITNESSES YOU WANT TO CALL,AND MAKE ALL THE POINTS AND ARGUMENTS YOU WANT TO MAKE ! Sack any solicitor or barrister that refuses you these very elementary legal rights OR worse still who advises you to surrender and go along with everything the SS demand.You do not need a lawyer to earn easy money by arranging your surrender !
So what to do? I repeat my earlier suggestions:-
STOP PUNISHMENT WITHOUT CRIME!
TO IMPROVE FAMILY COURTS :-The government should:-
1:Abolish Forced adoption
2:-Scrap” Gagging orders” on parents whose children have been taken .(when National Security is not involved) and children reporting abuse in care or wanting to talk to parents about missing them and coming home !
3:- Forbid “Punishment without crime”(taking children from parents who have not committed crimes against children).No more taking children for “risks” (that may never happen !) We can then concentrate on protecting the fewer numbers of children who have been physically or sexually abused but who are at present overlooked as unsuitable adoption material
4:-All parents not convicted of sexual or physical abuse against children should be allowed contact with their children and should never have their conversation censored or be penalised for contacting them by phone,email,or letter/card.
5:- Parents appearing in family courts should be allowed to bring in relatives and friends to watch proceedings and give moral support.(at present grandparents and step-parents are routinely refused admittance.)
6:-Parents should always be allowed to bring into court, witnesses including their own children if they can demonstrate that such witnesses might help their case.
Six changes that would probably eliminate 99% of the present injustices suffered by parents and children in the family courts.
Well that is the end of the shortened version of my book “forced adoption” .I apologise for repeating myself frequently but I would like readers to remember things they think important and repetition does help the memory !
Thank you all for reading this far ! If you remember even half of what I have told you I promise that you will know at least as much and probably more than the average solicitor or barrister practicing in the family courts !