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Child With No Name
December 14, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker follows up on the case of the unnamed baby. British child protectors employed a so-called independent expert, actually a professional witness, to produce a report justifying permanently separating parents and children.
'Baby with no name’ judge defends the biased system
There has been a huge increase in the number of children being removed from their parents on grounds of 'emotional abuse', reports Christopher Booker.
Among the many serious puzzles raised by the peculiar workings of our “child protection” system, three continually recur. One is a huge increase in the number of children now being removed from their parents on grounds of “emotional abuse”. This has been by far the biggest contributor to the explosion in the numbers of children taken into care since the “Baby P” scandal in 2008, rising by 92 per cent. And most have not been for actual emotional abuse but simply for the possible “risk” of such abuse happening in the future. A second charge against parents which comes up too often is their failure to “co-operate with professionals”, such as the social workers who are tearing their family apart. A third, used to justify 90 per cent of child removals, is the role of those “independent” psychologists hired by social workers to report that the parents suffer from such vague conditions as “borderline personality disorder”, or “narcissism”, leading them to “put their own interests above those of the children”.
All three points formed the substance of a recent judgment in the Court of Appeal, in the very unhappy case I reported last May of “the baby with no name”. In 2006, the mother lost her child, by a man who walked out on her, after a psychologist reported that she suffered “intellectual impairment”, making her unfit to bring up the child on her own. When she happily married a devout British-born Hindu, producing two sons, Hertfordshire social workers again intervened – much to the growing impatience of her husband, a “lovely, peaceable man” who held a £90,000-a-year job as a senior manager.
Everyone agreed, as an earlier judge found, that the children were “thriving”, that the parents were devoted to them and had done them no harm. But the same psychologist again found the mother not fully fit to look after her boys and said there might therefore be a “risk” of future harm. When the social workers removed the children, relations between them and the father grew so fraught that, when he accused one of them outside a courtroom of lying, and the social worker pushed him, he took a defensive swing at the man’s head and was fined £430 for assault. The father then refused to allow his baby to go through a traditional temple naming ceremony because, in defiance of Hindu rules, the social workers insisted on being present.
When Lord Justice Ryder heard the parents’ appeal, he eventually, after eight weeks, came up with a judgment that surprised many of those present through the hearing. It was “a misapprehension of the law”, he said, that children should not be taken from their parents for only the “risk” of future emotional abuse. Anyway, the father had already abused his children, both by hitting a social worker in his older son’s presence (even though the boy had been yards away at the time), and then by refusing to allow the younger boy to be named.
Ryder emphasised that the father had shown no ability to “co-operate” with the social workers who had removed his children. He finally wished to make clear that the psychologist who had twice found so damagingly against the mother was genuinely independent – this was after it emerged that she was retained by Hertfordshire for up to 20 hours a week, 46 weeks of the year (for which the going rate can be up to £80,000). It was a mere oversight that this woman had been described in council documents as “Dr”, when she was nothing of the kind.
And, although the parents had wished the mother to be assessed by another psychologist, who found her quite capable of parenting, the lower courts had been within their right to appoint the expert the council wanted.
Thus on all three points, Lord Justice Ryder upheld the current system in a way that will have won plaudits from social workers and family lawyers across the land. Whether the review of his judgment hoped for by the parents, and their advisers from John Hemming MP’s Families for Justice, will agree, it remains to be seen.
Source: Telegraph (UK)