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Jail for Hugging
June 14, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker comments on the harsh treatment of parents to enforce separation from their children. Booker was able to print the name of grandmother Kathleen Danby after the Daily Mail (enclosed article) published the story of her secret sentencing. Booker goes on to reveal the conditions in those supervised visitation centres where social workers forbid discussion of anything that really matters. One case reported by Booker resembles the disappearance of Howard Kober after disclosing sexual abuse. Booker's article makes reference to Wanda Maddocks and and an unnamed mother jailed for doing the legally right thing.
The mothers jailed after waving to their children in the street
It's a mystery why judges and social workers think they have the legal authority to act in such an inhuman way
By Christopher Booker, 8:04PM BST 14 Jun 2014
Many will have been amazed by the story of Kathleen Danby, the 72-year-old grandmother given a three-month prison sentence after police produced CCTV footage showing her and her 18-year-old granddaughter running to embrace in a pub car park. The granny, who lives in Orkney, had travelled down to Derby to meet her beloved young relation in defiance of a 2007 court order, which has allowed them only to have “supervised contact” by telephone once a month.
The girl, said to have a mental age of nine, is so unhappy in “care” that, according to Mrs Danby, she has run away 175 times. She was forbidden to see her father after he was jailed for roughly restraining her from “running into a busy road when she was having a temper tantrum”. He has twice since been in prison, once for waving at his daughter when he saw her in a passing taxi on her way to school.
Martin Cardinal, the Court of Protection judge who sentenced Mrs Danby, said: “I am sure this grandmother needs restraint.” It was Judge Cardinal who made news last year when it was revealed that he had secretly jailed Wanda Maddocks – for removing her 80-year-old father from a care home where he had been placed by social workers, and where he was being so ill-treated that she feared for his life.
Of all the disturbing features of our “care” system, one of the most chilling is the draconian restrictions it imposes on contact between children and loving parents or grandparents who have not harmed them in any way. If they are allowed to meet at all, it is usually in a grim council “contact centre”, where every word is noted by a “contact supervisor”, watching for any breach of the rules, which can stop the “contact” dead.
I have seen several of the contracts that family members must sign before being allowed these contact sessions. One is 23 clauses long. These severely limit or forbid any show of affection by either side. Conversation must be limited only to “everyday matters”, such as how the children are doing at school.
Virtually nothing the bewildered children want to discuss is allowed. Totally prohibited is any reference to why they are in “care”, what is to happen to them, or how they are being treated (in one case, where a distressed 11-year-old girl told her parents that she was being sexually abused by a member of the foster carer’s family, her parents never saw her again).
No reference can be made to the courts, social workers or any other “professional” involved in the case. Particularly forbidden is any “whispering”. Where foreign children are in care, they and their parents are forbidden to use the language they speak at home. When a Lithuanian grandfather recently flew to London to see his grandson, he was merely allowed one five-minute video exchange on Skype, using the only three words of English he knew: “I love you”.
Where no contact is allowed at all, the punishments for breaches can be astonishingly severe. I know of half a dozen cases where mothers were jailed simply for waving at their children when seeing them by chance in the street.
I recently reported on a mother, still in prison, after her desperately unhappy 13-year-old daughter had run away from a care home where she was being physically ill-treated. The mother had rung the police, but was careful to have no direct contact with her daughter, until the police begged her to go and calm the girl down in her brother’s house, where she was screaming and sobbing. For this, the social workers persuaded a judge to jail her for six months.
The real mystery is why the courts and social workers think they have the legal authority to act in this utterly inhuman way. If any lawyer can tell me precisely which law allows them thus to trample on one of the deepest and most natural of human instincts, I would be very grateful.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Secret court jails gran who hugged her granddaughter: Pensioner sentenced to three months after disobeying order she should not see the teenager
- Kathleen Danby, 72, jailed for three months by secretive Court of Protection
- She had been banned from contacting girl, 18, who has learning difficulties
- Was told she could speak to her once a month, but met her at railway exhibit
- Also shown on CCTV hugging the teenager outside a pub
- Judge Martin Cardinal said the CCTV showed Mrs Danby was in contempt
- Grandmother refuses to attend court, and says she will not go to prison
A grandmother has been sentenced to three months in prison after she was filmed giving her granddaughter a hug.
Kathleen Danby, 72, was jailed by the secretive Court of Protection, which decided she had disobeyed its order that she should not see the teenager.
Under a draconian judgment kept secret from the public, Mrs Danby had been banned from making contact with the girl, who is 18 but has learning difficulties.
She was told she could only speak to her on the phone once a month at a set time, with social workers listening in. Mrs Danby was ordered back to court when social workers heard that she had met the girl at a model railway exhibition. Police also presented CCTV footage of her hugging her granddaughter outside a pub.
Mrs Danby was not at the hearing in Birmingham in April to give her version of events but Judge Martin Cardinal said the CCTV showed she was in contempt. He ordered that she be jailed for three months and issued a warrant for her arrest.
However Mrs Danby, who lives in Orkney, said yesterday that no police officers had arrived to execute the warrant. ‘I haven’t been jailed simply because I refused to go down there to court,’ she said, adding that she would refuse to go to prison simply for making contact with her granddaughter.
‘She is 18 and can decide for herself what she wants to do, she is being denied her human rights,’ Mrs Danby said. ‘She has the educational standards of somebody half her age, and behaves like a much younger child, but she is completely lucid in what she wants.’
Mrs Danby said the girl was moved into care in Derbyshire in 2007, when she was 11, a year after being removed from her father in Orkney. He was banned from seeing her after he was convicted for ill-treatment for restraining her from running into a busy road while she was having a temper tantrum, Mrs Danby said.
She said it was a ‘spurious excuse’, adding: ‘Social services completely cut off contact which was of course cruel to her in the extreme.’ The girl’s father has been jailed twice for trying to contact her – once for waving at her taxi as she travelled to school – she said.
The teenager was in the care home against her will and had run away 175 times, Mrs Danby said.
Judge Cardinal is the judge who sent Wanda Maddocks to jail in secret for trying to free her 80-year-old father from a care home where she feared his life was at risk.
Judge Cardinal jailed Miss Maddocks without publishing her name or making any details of her contempt public. She served six weeks in jail. The case came to light more than six months later and led to new rules so that no one may ever again be imprisoned without their name being published.
In Mrs Danby’s case, Judge Cardinal said that the teenager, named only as B, finds it hard to control her anger, has self-harmed and frequently runs away. Social workers believe her distress increases when she is contacted by her father or grandmother, he said.
Derbyshire County Council said Mrs Danby broke the injunction banning contact by meeting her granddaughter at 5.27pm on February 28 outside the pub next to the care home.
Four days earlier, the teenager escaped from her minder and took a circuitous route to the town of Chapel-en-le-Frith. Judge Cardinal said the girl knew that for the last three years her grandmother has attended a model railway show there in February. She told a care worker that her grandmother had come from Scotland to see her.
‘I am sure this grandmother needs restraint,’ he said.
Last night lawyers were debating whether, by failing to give any information about why Mrs Danby is banned from seeing her granddaughter, Judge Cardinal had met the full requirements brought in after the Maddocks case.
Source: Daily Mail