Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh?

UPDATE Weds eve 4 Dec : I’ve now written an updating post on this topic here.

UPDATE 15 Apr 14 : Final Chapter here on Suesspicious Minds blog

Over the weekend a highly concerning story began to be reported in the press – the headline and byline read as follows: “‘Operate on this mother so that we can take her baby’ A mother was given a caesarean section while unconscious – then social services put her baby into care.”

It started in the Sunday Telegraph, courtesy of Christopher Booker, a journalist well known as a critic of the family justice system – and it spread like wildfire. It started, it was said, when the woman had something of a panic attack when she couldn’t find the passports for her two daughters, who were with her mother back in Italy.” This led to her calling the police, family members on enquiry raising concern about her mental health conditions and non-compliance with medication, and ultimately to being detained hospital under the Mental Health Act, where she remained until the c-section described above.

Within hours of the original post another Telegraph journalist, Colin Freeman, was reporting that Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb” by caesarean section according to legal documents seen by this newspaper”. The case, it was said raises fresh questions about the extent of social workers’ powers”. The report stated that “The woman…was forcibly sedated. When she woke up she was told that the child had been delivered by C-section and taken into care.”

On Sunday night I posted a short blog post asking for information when a judgment was published on Bailii. Lawyers found nothing, even though the baby was now 15 months old.

By Monday morning it was reported stateside by CNN. By Monday evening it was covered by the Independent and Guardian (and doubtless other papers). The Independent quoted John Hemming, who in typically hyperbolic style “said he hoped the incident would “shock people out of their complacency about the corrupt practices in the family court”. He told The Independent: “I think this has a fair chance of being the worst case of human-rights abuse I’ve ever seen. She wasn’t treated as a human being”. Drawing on and interpreting the Telegraph articles, the Guardian said According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, Essex social services obtained a high court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb. The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, who was in Britain for work reasons, because she had suffered a breakdown, according to the newspaper”. At that stage Essex were confined to responding with the standard Essex county council does not comment on the circumstances of ongoing individual cases involving vulnerable people and children” which is rolled out when standard reporting restrictions are in place (although the rules on reporting of family proceedings apply equally to newspapers this does not appear in practice to prevent the press from reporting cases they consider newsworthy).

The Telegraph published a response article from a solicitor with the headline Child taken from womb by social services: it’s not always wrong”, which lent the paper a superficial appearance of balance, whilst undermining the piece with the chosen headline. That article appeared to be based upon the assumption that the account given by the Telegraph is accurate, that Essex applied for a caesarean in order to further the welfare of the child, and upon the mistaken premise that the Court of Protection has as its core purpose the protection of the child. It does not.

In the meantime twitter was ablaze with comments and outrage and in equal measure with questions and pleas to wait for the facts. Bloggers blogged (I recommend Suesspicious Minds blog for an accurate explanation of the legal framework under which the cases will have proceeded), and even Chami Chakrabarti offered a quote (always a sign of a media frenzy). Unnamed “Human Rights Groups” and anonymous “experts” were quoted sounding concerned, perplexed and outraged in turn. And, as is often the case with the cases reported by Christopher Booker, MP John Hemming was involved, and he made assertions of fact and claims about injustice suffered by the woman and child concerned, suggesting he would raise the case in the House.

By close of play on Monday 2 December all sorts had pitched in:

At some point the Mother’s solicitor issued a statement on his website, stating that he was “unable to discuss the facts, evidence or information in this case.” And that he had “a duty to ensure information relating to ongoing proceedings remains confidential. As such, we are unable to offer any comments or information relating to this case.”. Which was strange, since he was apparently quoted in the Freeman Telegraph article (and subsequently elsewhere) doing just that.

The British Association of Social Workers had intervened to calm the anti-social work lynch mob convening online, pointing out that some of the coverage of this case has conferred on social workers a power beyond all recognition”, and that The Daily Telegraph’s assertion that ‘A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers’ not only reduces the debate to the absurd but makes a sweeping dismissal of the professional code to which doctors, who actually carry out such procedures, adhere., before regurgitating its usual line on the distinction between secrecy and privacy in family proceedings and closing with a rather stinging Social work, as with other professions, must always be prepared to consider how it might do things differently but so too elements of the media with an axe to grind might question whether their prejudicial approach does anything to support improved public understanding or better public services.”

Also joining in was the official twitter account of the judiciary (@Judiciaryuk) had tweeted that the case was ongoing, had been transferred to the President of the Family Division and was now to be heard in the High Court.

And finally Essex County Council released a statement of facts (no doubt approved by the court in a hastily convened hearing that day) which dealt with the ongoing care proceedings as accurate and appropriate for release. I recommend that it is read in full.

And those of us who had said “wait for the facts” silently said “I told you so”.

Of course, this remains a case about which we still know very little. It remains a case about which there is a pressing public interest in a fuller explanation in the form of a published judgment. And now that it is with the President of the Family Division, well known for favouring transparency of proceedings wherever possible, that is highly likely to happen. But when that comes and in what form is a matter for decision by the court and based upon the unique facts of the case rather than an ill informed clamour for everything now or the demands of those determined to expose injustice.

What the Essex press release tells us is this:

Firstly, that Christopher Booker’s original description of the Mother having “something of a panic attack” may well have minimised the significance of the Mother’s mental health difficulties. They had led to the removal of two children from her care. They led to her being sectioned for a five week period. They were sufficiently serious for clinicians to make an application to the Court of Protection.

Secondly, that the claims made by the Telegraph about social workers securing an order for forcible caesarean were wrong. Whilst no doubt there were multi-agency meetings that took place prior to the delivery in which social workers will have been involved, the application was made by the Health Authority not social services, and on clinical grounds rather than in order to secure the removal of the baby. It follows that either The Telegraph did not see the legal papers as it claims, did not read or understand them properly, put two and two together from limited documentation to make five, or misrepresented what it had read. I do not know which. I do not much care. It is a grievous error. One that you might expect of unqualified citizen journalists, not from the real deal.

Also evident from the Essex Press Release is that there is a dispute of fact as to whether or not the Mother was able to see the baby after delivery. What we can surmise is that the court has approved the Essex statement before publication and that there is likely to be evidence that it is accurate (such as hospital records). There are myriad reasons why the Mother’s account as reported may be inaccurate – for example, we know that the Mother was unwell at the time and it is possible that she does not recall events accurately. But putting aside the question of whether or not the Mother’s account is in fact accurate, the extent to which the press reports appear to rely upon the Mother’s account or information that emanates from her or her supporters (filtered often through the lens of John Hemming MP who judging from the quotes appears to have only recent involvement and limited direct knowledge), is alarming. It is profoundly unhelpful for a hysteria to be whipped up in this way only for the Local Authority concerned to have to seek permission of the court to correct errors of fact, a process which takes far too long in the internet age to ensure that accurate information is available at the point of a story taking hold. A Local Authority can say only that it does not comment on individual cases unless and until released by the court to say more. This does not make for fair or balanced reporting and nor does it facilitate the aim of informing the public about matters of legitimate interest.

And finally, one can track through the first and second Telegraph articles and onwards into the Guardian articles, a sort of evolution of the story, not necessarily arising out of the provision of new information or evidence. So, whilst in the original article the distinction between the medical procedure and the removal of the baby is blurred, by the second it is gone altogether and the application has been made by the social workers for the purpose of removing the baby. By the time the Guardian adopts the Telegraph’s reporting Essex are apparently quoted as justifying their application for a c-section on the basis of the woman’s best interests (an application we now know they didn’t make). This is odd, because they are also quoted by the Guardian in the same article as saying that they can’t comment. It’s all pretty poor.

What is most concerning about this whole affair is that the essence of the story, the thing that has got everyone so exercised, is not apparently based in fact at all. This story is not just about enforced surgery upon incapacitated adults, which is not particularly unusual. What people have been most exercised by (and rightly so) is the idea of enforced surgery as a procedure recruited in support of a system of forced adoption. And of course the graphic imagery associated with a c-section has been employed for full impact. But there are a number of life threatening and urgent conditions that commonly arise in pregnancy and a c-section is sometimes medically essential to preserve the life of mother or child or both. For a clinician faced with a patient who needs (and perhaps does not want) such a procedure, and who is unable to give valid consent to it, a trip to the Court of Protection is essential. Again, we don’t know the facts, but I venture the above to illustrate that there are possible scenarios which render a decision to enforce a c-section on a mother with acute mental health difficulties both necessary and justifiable. The crucial distinction between the justification for a medical procedure and the justification for a removal of a child into care is what has been blurred and subsequently lost in the reporting of this case. Those issues are separate legally and in terms of jurisdiction and in terms of the public authority responsible for carrying them out, and the decisions were subject to separate legal sanction.

Perhaps there has been an injustice in this case. On the known facts the decisions the court has made are grave ones indeed. It is self evident that the events as we know them will have been traumatic and confusing and unbearable for the Mother. In itself that does not mean that the decisions that have made are wrong. Yet nor does an insider’s confidence in the operation of the system most of the time mean that the decisions in this case were right or properly made. We must simply wait and see. And when we have the information let us hope that somebody will report the case fully, accurately and fairly – criticising the court if it has got it wrong, perhaps criticising others if this “story” has no legitimate basis. And let us hope in the meantime that this frenzy has not impacted adversely on the child, or upon the mother or her case, nor upon her ability to focus on the sound legal advice one hopes that she is getting.

It is probably too much to hope that the irresponsible reporting of this case has not caused undue alarm for women with mental health difficulties who may be pregnant or trying. It is easy to imagine that the ramifications of this sort of thing might extend in unseen ways, to affect some women’s behaviour in terms of compliance with medication, a failure to report a re-emergence of symptoms during pregnancy, or reduced engagement with social work and other professionals and the consequent isolation of vulnerable mums-to-be from much needed support during and after pregnancy. I hope I’m wrong.

Post script Tues am : There is also a Daily Mail story which appears to contain rather better information, surrounded with typically heightened language. It appears to quote from the judgment of the court (and hence I’m not linking to it as I have seen nothing that indicates whether or not there is permission to publish it at this stage). And in it John Hemming takes the speculation one step further by stating “We do not know whether she was held in the UK as a favour for Essex social workers. We cannot know because of the disgraceful secrecy of the courts“. In response to which one might observe that there is presently no evidence to suggest that such a conspiracy existed (and plainly lots of information IS available to journalists regardless of the absence of an official transcript of any judgment).

Post script lunchtime Tues 3rd : Judgment in care proceedings (final care and placement orders) now released on bailii (P (A Child) [2013] EW Misc 20 (CC) (01 February 2013)). Link to Daily Mail here (its now obviously ok to publish it). This is NOT the decision re the c-section. Further, this judgment raises a number of questions and concerns, such as – is the judgment re B-S Compliant? A : on quick reading probably not. And regarding attempts made to accommodate M & B in placement together. There is also direct criticism of the perfunctory return of M to Italy. That’s as far as I have got as am in lunch break at court.

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130 thoughts on “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh?

  1. A very traumatic case indeed. Whatever the facts may be. One thing alarms me is that once the child is in the care system it is so much harder to regain custody in fact it’s pretty impossible, especially with babies as Social Services always stun my mind and forced adoption will no doubt be the likely hood of such a case. “The child will face no trauma? the child is young, lots of people want to adopt babies”? blah blah blah social workers are not trained in the physchiatric field! I have yet to hear of any evidence that a child in care will not be emotionally traumatised! It is so wrong in so many ways. This has to be one of the worst cases I have read about. What on earth is going on in the Family Court & yes Social workers have far to much power. I am sure there are facts but if the press reports are true? Social Services are nothing more than Baby Snatchers!

  2. I am so relieved to have read this blog. I sense that somewhere there will be an explanation. It is a very sad situation, and rightly or wrongly, I am somewhat revived to learn about Booker’s misrepresentation of the reasons for her sectioning.

    I am increasingly inclined to side with Munby’s recomendation about transparency of the family courts. However, I don’t want these delicate and often terrible stories to be treated like those in Chat or Bella. I recognise and respect the need for social work and the courts to protect the rights and dignity of the child.

    However, I also see the relevance of public interest disclosures – if only to ease the burden of public opinion on social work. If nothing changes the culture of resistance to social work could intensify, and place them in even greater danger. I believe the desired information (about what social workers do, how they work with families, before a child is removed) could be coded and anonymised – like a serious case review but with much less point by point detail (police calls, DV incidents with dates etc), no reference to an LA, no reference to names etc, and any other identifying information could somehow be manipulated to be obscure to public scrutiny.

  3. A very balanced article; just one comment, do we actually know that the woman’s two other daughters were removed from her care? If they are in the care of her husband, do we know what the contact arrangements are? Why was she searching for their passports?

    Perhaps this, and other facts in the case, will become clearer over time, but we may never know the full truth. One issue the story does raise, as pointed out by Seusspicious Minds, is whether any state agency – whether court or social services – should have these extraordinary powers without the public being able to see what is done in its name. At the very least, the relationship between the people and these courts needs to become more transparent.

    An aside: is this the first time Shami Chakrabarti has commented on a family law case?

    • Some of the information in the press says the children are cared for by her mother in Italy – e.g. the Daily Mail (who seem to have been in court) say they are with her until she can recover sufficiently to care for them. It’s unclear but appears that they were removed / placed with her Mother due to her poor mental health.

      As for Shami Chakrabarti, I don’t think so but she rarely does.

  4. I just want to congratulate the author on a superb piece of analysis and writing.

  5. I wonder what you’d make of the following, from a legal perspective. I have no connection with the writer and whilst the style could be improved, I’m intrigued as to the legal points made. http://jolliffe.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/italian-case-amicus-curiae-submission/

  6. A good article Lucy. I’ve had people asking my thoughts, and replied ‘It’s impossible to say without knowing the facts’.

  7. No congratulations from this quarter, I’m afraid. This piece of writing is as tendentious as the original reportage on which it comments. Those of us with professional and personal experience of the “Family” Courts and Court of “Protection” know, even if not all are prepared to admit publicaly, (eh, Nigel), that the Courts are failing vulnerable adults and children and that these failings are being covered up by the secrecy under which the cases are heard and decided. The system of Public and Private Family Law in this country is rotten to the core and articles such as this, effectively stating “move along please, nothing to see”, “checks and balances”, “sound reasons for the decision”, blah, blah simply won’t do any more! The author can have had no genuine expectation of finding Mostyn J’s judgment in this matter on BAILLII because if it had been published at the time then this story MIGHT not have broken in quite the manner which it did. On the other hand, of course, it might have done. It is not unknown for professionals and Expert Witnesses to over-step the mark and have to be brought back into line by public outrage. We don’t need the names for effective scrutiny, “Just the facts, ma’am”!

  8. Would the Telegraph have run this story if local authorities could sue for libel? It appears to have been almost wholly untrue and has probably caused considerable damage. Worrying what people are ready to believe,

  9. Did no one ever stop to think that maybe if she was pregnant she needed to stop taking her meds?

    Also irrespective of weather she was mentally ill or not forcibly taking a child away from someone seems a bit extreme. Especially with forced c-section.

    But hey we violate the unborn’s rights everyday so why not the mentally ill?

  10. I am not from the UK & I don’t thankfully suffer from mental health problems, but aftet reading this story I cerrainly wouldn’t travel to the uk while pregnant. From a distance it would appear that the uk have given far too much powet to social services. The stories in the past where they have got it wrong & childer were already adopted & therefore would not be returned dispite parents being cleared are chilling. In these cases all involved including judges should never be allowed to work with families again. If you get anything that wrong & destroy peoples lives your life should be equally effected.

  11. I have just come across this article and would be interested to know why this mother was not placed in a specialist mother and baby unit? or if she was? The average length of stay on such units is around 8 weeks so being under section for 5 weeks does not seem that extreme to me.These units are there for women with mental health difficulties during the last trimester of pregnancy and st anytime until the child’s first birth day, they offer specialist care such as stabilizing women on medication until they are well enough to care for their child.

  12. It is undeniable that Essex SS stole her baby for no good reason as per usual.

    1) baby should have been returned to italy

    2) Essex SS should NEVER be putting this child up for adoption in this country EVER.

    Once again SS & family court act against the best interests of ALL parties except SS & FC.

    This abuse must end at once. Abolish all SS & FC and then Execute all guilty parties immediately for crimes against humanity!

  13. the real issue here is why was this woman allowed to ge pregnant anyway?
    seems to me that if the Government can drug people to unconsciious and operate on them that it would be just as simple to drug lots of men and women and sterilise them to stop them breeding?
    80 yerars ago the Nazis had the right idea so maybe soon the UK can set up a program of sterilising anyone suspected of being a bad mother or father?

  14. Wow
    A well-reasoned account of a sad situation, used by journalists as if they were in a war zone, throwing hand grenades willy nilly; journalist point scoring, never being professional.

    Well done
    Sid

  15. […] Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh? – By Pink Tape blog (family law barrister Lucy Reed) […]

  16. One issue that seems largely undiscussed is that compliance with a medication regimen during pregnancy often means agreeing to not take medication needed to allay psychiatric symptoms, as most common anti-depressant, anti-psychotic and mood stabilizing medications are classed as dangerous to the fetus, with risks ranging from palate deformities to life threatening cardiac anomalies. So women who are in this position are at high risk of being lashed in a terrible catch-22, where the medication they need in order to act in the best interest of their fetus (and then child) cannot be taken, when considering the best interests of the fetus, but they’re penalized for it anyway, damned if they do or don’t and I cannot help but wonder if that’s what’s occurred here.

    That’s leaving aside the issue of the questionable “clinical” reasons for a court forced c-section which doesn’t appear to have taken place on an actual emergent basis. While more light has been shed, this still remains deeply suspicious.

    • Leslie (and others who have raised it) – the question of the need to modify meds during pregnancy is a real issue. We still don’t know the answer as the judgment re the c-section is not out and the judgment in the care proceedings doesn’t go into detail on her mental health symptoms at the time of the delivery.

  17. The press hyperbole isn’t great – but putting a child into adoption without giving the mother chance to recover seems wrong.

    As someone who experienced the ‘loving hand’ of social services as a child in a custody battle, I’m very sceptical of those who paint them as misunderstood heroes…for all their BS about ‘we care about the child first’, it was not evident to me as a child. In fact they did more damage than good. The bad image does not completely come from sensationalist press, you know.

    • Tim,
      Agreed – not all misunderstood heroes at all. I often represent parents so I know that there is bad as well as good, sometimes quite shocking.

  18. Well done, familoo.

  19. The mother was well enough to be employed by an airline and invited to a training course held by Ryanair at Stansted, which would suggest that her mental health was generally under control.

    She had a panic attack at Stansted and may have stopped taking her mediation because she was pregnant. The police who attended, at her request, appear grossly to have overreacted even after speaking to her mother in Italy. Instead of calling a doctor at Stansted or their own police surgeon they took her, without her consent, to a psychiatric facility.

    Despite being told she was an Italian citizen none of the police officers called the consulate or the embassy. That is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention and is quite simply illegal. The UK has already been previously prosecuted for breach of the Convention and will doubtless be charged again over this case.

    No ifs no buts, that was simply wrong. The police have broken the law.

    The woman asked to leave the hospital as was her right. Again no-one at the hospital called the consulate or the embassy. Instead they detained her against her will, forcibly sedated her and sectioned her. The hospital has committed numerous criminal offences here and I sincerely hope it will be prosecuted. In addition, the hospital has committed at least one tort and should be sued.

    As for the C-section there is serious dispute over whether in fact there was any medical justification for it. If in fact there was not then Mostyn J has committed misconduct on the bench and the hospital has committed perjury and contempt, and went on to commit several more criminal offences. The issue of informed consent is also in dispute.

    The woman woke up in a different hospital with no baby. You appear to think that is acceptable Lucy. I do not. Neither does Brendan Fleming who is in record as stating that in 40 years he has never seen anything like it.

    A judge then overruled the doctors and ordered the immediate removal of the baby into foster care. No explanation of why he did that has been forthcoming but this seems to be yet more judicial misconduct.

    The mother was then removed from the country, apparently wrongly according to the judge dealing with the adoption application. Do you think that is OK Lucy?

    Essex claims to have liaised extensively with the family; the family say categorically that that is a lie. If they are right then the statement published, whether agreed with the court or not, is wilfully untruthful.

    Essex has ignored the wider family’s rights to have its relative restored to its custody. That is a breach of the HRA and the Convention, I am surprised that you seem to think that is permissible conduct. It is not.

    Munby J has now called in the case which suggests to me that he thinks there has been seriously bad behaviour involved.

    Personally I hope that this woman’s lawyer throws the book at the police, the hospital and the council and that disciplinary proceedings are brought and that people are held to account for what appears to be an end-to-end abuse of human rights and flouting of the criminal, civil and international laws which apply here.

  20. Having read the published judgement here http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2013/20.html I would like someone to assist me in clarifying what I find to be the most concerning part of the judgement.

    Am I correct in concluding that the decision to submit the child for adoption against the wishes of the mother was driven primarily by the following two factors:

    1. there currently exists no ability to care for the child P in the existing extended family in Italy
    2. there is a timeframe in place (9 months) that it is judged that if the child is not placed in stable home by, will result in harm to the child.

    His Honour Judge Newton appears to assert point 1 without further clarification (and contrary to the self evident fact that the existing two children are currently being cared for) and appears to have made his decision to submit the child for adoption primarily on the basis of point 2, which seems to me (little experience in the area) very arbitrary.

    He expresses that the mother has made a marked improvement as apparently she has been regularly taking her medicine, and he seems to be of a belief that given sufficient time she could be capable of taking back over care of her existing children and the child P. Yet based on the 9 months timeframe, he makes the decision that the child should not be returned to the mother but adoption proceedings should be started. He also makes reference to the child’s ethnicity and that an adoptive home is unlikely to be ethnically suitable.

    Is there anything I’ve missed or misread?

  21. Familoo: thanks. I am at work so can’t go off and research the basis for the nine month time frame, but I find it concerning that that one factor has trumped so many others, including the EHCR, the interests of the mother, the concerns related to the child’s mixed ethnicity, the progress shown by the mother … I could go on.

  22. never let the facts get in the way of a good story this article is titled. yet its writer has no facts

    • Jonathon, You are right, I have pretty limited facts. I am doing my best to unpick what is out there. We need more information to draw firm conclusions.

  23. one things is a fact there courts involved use a civil proof threshhold wich is based on probabilitys (maybe,s) not facts ..so any judgement will not be based on facts but merely chance………the same as an eachway bet on lucky lucky running in the 2.30 at kempton.. will it win will it not who knows…..is the court right is it wrong who knows

  24. Annoyingly, this is the least useful of the three judgments that have been given

    (what one wants primarily is the judgment as to why the C-section was considered medically necessary, and then why it was considered necessary and proportionate to remove the child from the mother initially. Like others, I am still troubled as to why any risks could not be managed by very extensive supervision whilst mother was detained under the MHA)

    And in the absence of those judgments, this final hearing judgment doesn’t really take us very far in terms of any detail or understanding of the history.

    It’s probably a good example of the sort of judgment in placement orders that had been common and which have led the Court of Appeal to produce their raft of cases.

    As to the 9 month point, what the Court would be looking for is whether it would be realistically possible for this child to return to mother’s care either at that final hearing or within a reasonable timescale afterwards. The 9 months that the proceedings had gone on is actually 50% longer than the timescales being pressed upon Courts by Government and policy. The proposal being looked at was that the child remain in foster care for another year, to see if mother could recover to the point where she would be able to care for the child. Most courts, faced with keeping a child in limbo for another year, would have been saying no to that as an option.

    (There’s quite a massive debate amongst professionals as to whether the strict 6 month time limit is enough for troubled parents, but that’s a whole other debate)

    [Still intrigued as to the basis on which the President can look at the case without an application that is live before the Court, unless the idea is that he just reads them and drops a hint to mum's solicitor to bang in a leave to revoke the Placement order application if he feels injustice has been done.

    That might well be a useful and helpful safeguard in cases where there is a public interest in a review, but it isn't a system that we currently have]

  25. Good article. One thing though: just because the other two kids were taken from the mother’s care does not mean that this somehow proves her mental health was bad. Social workers could have been abusing their powers by taking these kids away. And was her mental health bad enough for the baby to be removed from the mother’s care at birth- that’s another issue. A Court Order is needed if a baby is planned to be removed from the mother before birth, and conditions have to be satrsfied for the Court to grant an order; but the info the Court relies on comes from the mouths of social workers. The nature of the multi-agency agreement means that in the UK, social workers work closely with police, teachers, local councils and the NHS, and are easily able to influence the beliefs of other agencies and professionals. They have extraordinary powers for people who just have first degrees and are not qualified in an actual professional field- though yo be fair, they in turn can be influenced and used by education authorities, especially in local authorities in which the education and social services are amalgamated or controlled by one individual (of which Glasgow City Council used to be one).

  26. Aenesidemus,

    You have latched on to the areas that I felt most pertinent. If the judge feels that the parent will eventually be able to regain custody of P’s siblings, then why would she not be able to regain custody of P herself after proving her self well again.

    “The Guardian was concerned about the timeframe and also about the durability of the mother’s commitment to taking her medication. It is not to say that she doubts the mother’s intentions, or further in maintaining the medication, but there have been periods in the past when she has taken medication only subsequently to lapse. It may be, and I hope that it is, that the current position is that the mother having at last recognised that she does have bipolar affective disorder and recognising that she must take her medication at all times, that a corner has been turned, but only time will tell. ”

    Well considering the gravity of the situation was it not too early to say that the mother was incapable of taking her medication for as long as needed? Surely it would have been better to ensure the children were together and give the mother time to prove she could keep it together?

    Also this comment caught my eye

    “She is half Italian and half Senegalese and both her parents have differing religious backgrounds as well. It is obvious that the best place for a child is within his or her family unless there are clear welfare grounds to demand or prefer an alternative.”

    Well thats a combination that will be hard to find and I find there is too much emphasis on the racial make up of the child considering that a custody order was put in for all three children so they could all live together. Sure ensuring that the siblings remain together trumps that?

    Overall I feel that this was not a decision for a UK court to make but an Italian one. I also don’t see how if P is adopted in the UK how it is possible for a relationship to be maintained between her siblings and her parents and if relocated to Italy that would not have been such a concern.

  27. […] Originally Posted by Darkley So a lot of the story is muddled, it seems the c-section was performed and THEN social services got involved, not the other way around P (A Child) [2013] EW Misc 20 (CC) (01 February 2013) also Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh? : pinktape.co.uk […]

  28. I was one of the people who blogged quickly after the story had broken. I did not criticise the practice as I did not know enough about the law or the case to comment. My criticism of the Council at the time was their apparent disdain for the right of the public to be informed on a complex case with obvious public interest. The Council did not say that they would report their position after getting clearance from the court. What they said was a blanket statement that they don’t comment on individual cases. I doubt if they would have issued their clarification statement on Monday of it had not been for intense international media pressure. The media should be thanked for drawing public attention to the case and these legal issues more generally. They cannot be criticised for printing half the story when all the indications were that the full story would not be forthcoming.
    Now social work bloggers including Community Care’s website are calling for openness and transparency in cases like this and for a right for local authorities to respond properly and openly in such cases.
    The people who are saying ‘I told you so’ should not be people who said there must be more to the case but rather people who argued for the facts to be out on the open.

    • Jim, What you describe is pretty standard practice on the part of Essex – but you raise a good point as to whether or not it should be standard practice or whether LAs might in certain cases be more proactive about that. I suspect that in future, given the direction of travel, the question will be taken out of their hands as publication will be court led. I say that subject to what I understand are concerns raised by the judiciary about the resources available for courts to do that – in terms of judicial time to consider what needs to be anonymised and the details of any reporting restriction on a case by case basis, transcript costs etc. There are real practical obstacles and no obvious way to overcome them.

  29. Rose White, as you are clearly insane, perhaps you’d vote for legislation which would give the state power to sterilise you!

  30. lso joining in was the official twitter account of the judiciary (@Judiciaryuk) had tweeted that the case was ongoing, had been transferred to the President of the Family Division and was now to be heard in the High Court.
    And finally Essex County Council released a statement of facts (no doubt approved by the court in a hastily convened hearing that day) which dealt with the ongoing care proceedings as accurate and appropriate for release. I recommend that it is read in full.
    404 Not Found.
    No Further comment.

    • Tony Phillips,
      I suspect it was a demand issue. It’s gone down momentarily a couple of times today, as has this blog. The link is here.

  31. You are, of course, right to challenge what I wrote! I missed her comment earlier so when I read your reply, I went back up to read it. I wrote whilst incredulous! A case of trigger-finger email I’m afraid!

  32. There are worse things.

    When the Great Assize Court in the Sky sits for the last time, the charge might be Drunk in Charge of an H-Bomb!

  33. Barbara Abraham

    Yes people with mental health issues don’t have a voice and are treated like second class citizens social workers do have to much power and can take advantage of this fact. only people who have had dealings with social workers would know that,agitate one and you can find out what great pen pushers they are, to your disadvantage of course , If every one who have a story to tell on dealings with social workers , were to wright there story down,we would get an eye opener,I believe there would be two many to count,Lets say if you have a grievance with a social worker ,and you know they have twisted the fact’s , who is to be believed ,I also believe social workers cover each others back,which do police doctors prison officers members of parliament judges , unless you can get the injustice on camera or recorded your case is lost before it has started.

  34. “Of course, this remains a case about which we still know very little”

    Then what gives you the right to write this article and act as if you know more about the entire case than anyone else who has reported on it so far?

  35. The mother, her family and her Italian lawyer don’t share your sanguine viewpoint either:

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/03/forced-caesarian-italian-woman-suffering-animal

  36. Greg
    I hope it doesn’t sound that way. I am simply trying to do the best I can to analyse the information available. I certainly know no more than anyone else.

  37. No comments would have been the better approach to take with this matter once the whole equation was available, we have C, but not the A and B with led to C, however there could be a B+ following Essex Press Release whereby they said that in October this year the county court granted placement to adopt, it could be a play on words, or a Freudian slip, however I still would not pass judgment who is right and who is wrong without the whole equation and obviously the equation from the horses mouth and not the speculative quagmire that is happening now, like for instance the Mother has spoken to SKY news, SKY news purport the mother has Solicitors based in Italy and not that of the ones in the UK, I will consult with Professor Stephen Hawking to help with the completed equations when they are finally available

  38. SMASH AND GRAB THE BABY and stop it going back to Italy! That is the essence of this case in plain english ! “Once you have a foreign baby never let it go” is the social services mantra as is of course the mantra of equal importance
    “If a british baby escapes our clutches by going abroad either as a foetus or a newborn pursue it via interpol to the ends of the earth” even though in the absence of a court order the mother has committed no crime by leaving .British social workers will never leave the baby to be dealt with by social services in the country where the baby is born unless of course that country happens to be the uk !
    Lucy does not explain how this allegedly sick woman passed her two week course for Ryanair cabin crew ,how she held a job before coming to uk and still has one now;Lucy you do not say why she was not told she was going to have a Caesarean section or that the plan was for adoption;She was not told why she could not return to italy until the baby was cut out of her two months after incarceration and isolation from her consulate or a solicitor of her choice and she was never informed of her right to go before an independent tribunal if she wished to be discharged from the mental hospital.
    I spoke to this lady last week by phone and it was at her request that I Passed her story on to christopher booker and other journalists.
    She sent me court papers which are now on bailii and it can be seen that like me judge newland was impressed with her educated mastery of english and her calm logical arguments in court but disregarding munby guidelines the judge still recommended adoption for possible risk of a future lapse without explaining why all other options were not possible ! What other options? Her sister in law in new york,her mother in Italy,and thirdly the father of the baby also in italy all offered to care for the child who was however earmarked for adoption by strangers!
    Adoptions at all costs drives this deplorable system and until punishment without crime is banned and child cruelty is left to the police and to criminal courts these injustices will continue and multiply………..

    • Ian, You are feeding the understandable panic that many women with mental health difficulties may feel approaching pregnancy or delivery. There are grave issues and real concerns raised by this case – your “snatch and grab” remark adds nothing to sensible discussion.
      I don’t explain how the woman passed her medical etc because I don’t know. I don’t claim to know.
      The questions you raise about the judgment on the care and placement application in light of recent Court of Appeal guidance are valid questions, but rather lost amongst the heightened language you insist on using every time you comment.

  39. Well the Italian press are understandably all over this one. The mother, from a place in Tuscany, speaks out openly about the abuse perpetrated on her in being forcibly sedated and a senior judge from Milan, biting his tongue, calls it a case that would never happen in Italy. Meanwhile everyone who’s anyone over here in law is mealy-mouthed and schtum as though somehow our wonderful social services system would never cause such barbaric things to happen without justifiable reason.

    Italy is a foreign country. They do mental health differently there.

  40. A story too far to happen to Carrie in Homeland

  41. It could indeed never happen in Italy. By the time their courts got their act together the baby would be born and probably gone on to be a parent . . .

  42. I am seriously narked now!! Should the LA & the courts be dealing with a Child in the womb? Or the Family Court? I thought we had a stark shortage of Social Workers? Mental Health problems do not deem Any Human, UNFIT! OR INSANE! One in three shall suffer at some point. Drug addicts are treated more fairly! Even though they are damaging the unborn! This poor Woman is not even a resident of England? She was on a business trip! There are thousands and thousands of children who are within their family homes, being abused and put at risk? Where are the Social Services? It is so frustrating Statistics show how they fail these Children Every Single Day!! What kind of Society do we live in & how much more suffering will innocent people endure before some form of Goverment Agency Turns the Social Services UPSIDE DOWN? OR IS WHISTLE BLOWING TO THE PRESS, A MOTHERS CHANCE FOR A FAIR TRIAL? Even though she may face Jail? Lessons are not being learned!! This is a start to an Eperdemic!! Now there is no legal Aid. Baby Snatching Has Just Started… Very very sad for vunerable people who can’t afford Legal Representation.

    • Michelle, if you read the post (and now most of the press coverage) you will see that the c-section was applied for and carried out by the medics not the social workers. Although there is no legal aid for disputes between parents, there is legal aid for this sort of case i.e. where the state is intervening in a child’s life. The mother has been represented throughout as far as I can tell.

  43. True, there’s much we don’t know. But then there’s much that we do know.

    As many comments show, we already know enough to say that horrific injustice has been done on several levels.

    As a university professor I have visited the UK several times on professional business. That’s finished. Now that I understand the vulnerability of the visitor who displeases some civil servant, I can say publicly that I shall never set foot on the sceptred isle until justice is done to this woman and her child.

  44. This blog is a breath of fresh air. It makes me so cross that the press continue to make assumptions about the social work profession and stories like this make our job harder trying to engage families to make positive changes. We do not have the powers people believe and are strictly guided by policies and procedures as are any other profession. The full story is not known and if the child had died due to lack of action we would have also been vilified. No one has considered the child’s right to have a safe and secure home and to have their needs fully met. No child is ever removed lightly and it takes serious risk of harm concerns for that to happen.

  45. Enjoy your elective servitude, state-worshiping sheep.

    • Thank you Anonymous. If anything I have said proves to be inaccurate I will correct it. I have not made any judgment on the case itself, but I have been critical of the media’s reporting of it. If, once we have the full facts, there is criticism to be made of any arm of the state I will be happy to make that criticism. I will not offer criticism until I know whether it is warranted.

  46. You can still come to Scotland, Stephen. We have a separate legal system to England and Wales. :-)

    I personally find England a terrifying place now after being a frequent visitor. Years of people being convinced that any foreigner is evil has dulled my affection as people spout lies. Obviously not everyone but enough to make this scots trip to Norfolk earlier this year a very uncomfortable experience.

  47. It’s a rare day you’ll find me agreeing with the hordes over at the Daily Mail bit more I learn about this…through different channels, the legal docs here, the more it seems the original outrage does have some basis. In fact as my partner commented it’s more like dystopian fiction than reality. Completely horrific even if only a fraction of it is true…should not have happened.

    I think at the very least for the sake of the child both of them should have been sent back to Italy, with liason with the health authorities. No wonder Italian press is freaking out. Both baby and mother should be there, with the culture and roots of the child. Not alone here in Essex adopted by a completely different family with different backgrounds.

    The mention of the sister in law is interesting too (if you’re going to uproot the child at least let it be with close relatives with some link) As you delve more and more you find out more possibilities seem to have been ignored or dismissed. This does nothing to dispel the popular idea that once ‘the social’ has your kids, you’re screwed and will never see them again….again, it’s not actually a myth sadly. Especially in cases of mental illness or disability or imprisonment…I hope this case puts light into those cases too…where the State rules who can be a fit parent arbitrarily according to who comes within their grasp, then oddly ignores the others who probably should be intervened, like the famous abuse casea.

  48. How often do we hear “we have not heard the whole story” ? ie the social services version.
    What happens when we ask for it? We get (as first happened in this case) “we cannot comment on individual cases” which is of course not true since like the rest of us they can write what they like as long as it cannot lead to the identification of the children.More often however the reaction is to rush to court for a gagging injuction to stop any adverse publicity especially if the enquirer is a journalist !
    In this case the worldwide indignation was such that they were forced to release a skimpy timetable that answered none of the questions as to why this mother was incarcerated for nearly two months ,isolated from friends,her consulate and any lawyer of her choice ,or why she was not told beforehand of the operation and woke up to find the baby gone etc etc
    Lastly Essex stop making excuses !It was YOU essex Council and nobody else who demanded adoption ,disregardig the father,the grandmother (who lives opposite to the mother),or the sister in law when all three offered to take the child.
    Essex,Essex,Essex ,it is you and you alone who have taken this child and set it on the road to forced adoption!

    • Forced adoption (Ian – why do you keep posting under different titles?),
      We haven’t heard the whole story. Nor have we heard only or all of social services version as you imply.
      It is wrong to state that parties to care proceedings can write what they like as long as it cannot lead to identification of the children.
      There is no indication that any gagging injunction is in place in this case, or at any rate if there is it is not preventing massive amounts of discussion.
      We simply don’t know the answers to the caesarean questions (or the consulate questions) – we need the judgment of that decision as a starting point to be able to comment meaningfully. The interview on 5 Live this morning with Mum’s own solicitor (the italian one) did not illuminate the matter much either, although we did find out that she was delivered at 34 weeks.
      It is difficult to tell from the quite short judgment if it is fair to criticise Essex for their care plan (although it is self evident that the court approved that plan) – if the italian lawyer is correct the grandmother was unable / unwilling to take the third children and was suggesting all 3 go to the states – and we don’t know if that was viable either.
      The proceedings are said to be still live, probably because there is an application for an adoption order (placement orders having been obtained in February) and mother is seeking leave to oppose that on the basis of a change of circumstances. We shall have to see if that is the basis of the current proceedings and if she is able to demonstrate sufficient change etc. I expect that a judgment on that is bound to be published in due course. Hopefully the Mostyn and ICO judgments will be published soon.

  49. A big question! when will the caesarean order by judge mostyn be published?

  50. I agree that without hearing both side of the story it is difficult to comment. I do feel however, that it was not right (mental health act or not) that the baby should have been ‘taken’ at 34 weeks. I would have thought that unless there were sound medical reasons for an early delivery the baby’s wealfare should be considered also and therefore that nothing should have happened until 38-40 weeks.

  51. The point is raised that the doctors made the application to court as though this somehow exonerates social services, a fatuous claim if ever there were. No matter the handwritng, the hands that rock the cradle were much those of the social workers. The illuminating proof of that is what happened when the doctors wanted the baby to stay with the mother. The baby snatchers took her away. The application by doctors merely shows them descending to the same sub-human level as their counterparts in social services.

    The facts of this case are already well known. They are widely reported in Italy including the name of the mother, a thirty five year old from Tuscany. There is no reason to keep the mockers on here; yet again, it’s the same old secrecy wrongly protecting all the usual suspects.

    • Paul,
      If “the hand that rocks the cradle” was the social workers why did the medics disagree with them on the question of the removal? I don’t understand your argument.

  52. Lucy ! I have never posted under different titles ;just forced adoption (that gets the message across)and comes up automatically when I type in my email address or more rarely my own name IAN JOSEPHS .
    No there is I believe no gagging order in force despite an urgent application true to form by Essex to try and hide their misdeeds .You will sendyour questions to Essex or similar Councils in vain as “cover up “is always the order of the day despite Munby’s new guidance.
    What Essex cannot answer and you cannot answer Lucy is why a baby born of an italian mother on a short visit to uk cannot be sent back to Italy for Italian social services to deal with.Forced adoption is rare indeed in Italy but the baby would be deprived of all contact with half sisters,grandmother,father,and extended family if sent to forced adoption in uk so I repeat that the Italians should be left to look after the Italian baby !
    Foreign tourists should think twice before visiting the uk if pregnant or with young children as many such visitors have to my knowledge lost their babies or young children to the uk adoption industry!Slovak, Indian, and French cases come to mind …..

    • Ian / forced adoption,
      Sometimes your comments come up as Ian, sometimes not.I see your email address but others don’t so its not always clear to them that it’s the same person.

  53. I believe we are living in a big brother society in our social system, It is more the secret services where social services and child court’s are concerned,and this has to change if we are to find the truth whats going on with all child cases. Foster carer’s have to sign contract when they take on this responsibility a gagging order you may say,and if you go against the social services for any reason they would have have the child placement reviewed, As if the child was a dog they were talking about.

    • That is interesting Al. Thanks. It is of course about women who retain capacity to make decisions, even though their decision may be one we disagree with. I don’t think that is what we are dealing with here on current information.

  54. Now that the Mostyn judgment and transcript has been published, it seems that we have enough information to know the sequence of events, and to comment on the Telegraph’s reporting of the case.

    It’s fair to say that Booker got the substance of the story right. The essence of it is that people in authority arranged for the Italian patient to have a C-section without her consent or knowledge in order to deliver her baby, and they did this with the intention of then removing the baby from the mother. This is borne out by the Mostyn transcript.

    You, and other bloggers, have made much of Booker’s error in ascribing this solely to social workers. It is definitely an error. It’s also clear from the transcript that social workers were involved in the process before the c-section. It would have been accurate, no doubt, to refer to a multi-disciplinary team of police, social workers and mental health medical workers. In the absence of any engagement from Essex County Council though, it’s not terribly surprising that the journalists made these errors. In fact the judgment demonstrates that the ECC statement is partial at best, and has misled people into believing that social workers were only involved after birth. Criticism of journalists for relying on the account of the mother surely invites criticism of those who rely on the account of the authorities.

    It’s notable too that none of the judgments in this case were available online until after the Sunday Telegraph story was published – months and months after the hearings. Could the ST have waited until they were published before doing its own story? Would the courts have made them available if they had been asked? Perhaps – but court officials are thoroughly unhelpful to journalists most of the time.

    So, I appreciate that it’s a good story to weigh in against the mainstream media, but it seems as though you’ve applied a double standard by implying in the blog headline that the ST fabricated its account in some way (because the clear implication of the phrase ‘never let the facts get in the way of a good story’ is that there is a deliberate attempt to mislead by omission or untruth) and speculating about how and where its information came from while standing firm on the principle that it is wrong to make any judgment on the conduct of doctors, social workers, lawyers or the courts until all the information is available.

    Meanwhile we do know more about the reasoning behind the c-section, which does make some sense. She was at 39 weeks and had had two c-sections before. There was a risk that she would suffer serious complications from a natural birth. Yet why were the doctors concerned that she might lie about contractions until it was too late? Because she was worried that the baby would be taken away from her after it was born.

    I’ll leave you to speculate as to why she might have had those fears.

    • DobbyDarin,
      Intrigued about your view Booker got the substance right. You concede that there was an error of reporting regarding the social work involvement in the c-section. I think that is a pretty big failure of reporting. I struggle to see how one can blame Essex for the error, who were constrained by the rules regarding privacy of proceedings (rules that the press seem to think don’t apply to them).
      I take your point that the reporting appears to have achieved a greater level of transparency as it has forced the publication of two of the three relevant judgments (ICO still awaited). I don’t think that justifies the content of the reporting and nor does it absolve the press of the responsibility to get their facts straight. What would have stopped them obtaining a copy of the judgment or making an application for its publication or release? Nothing. I would bet my bottom dollar that they just didn’t bother.
      I haven’t implied fabrication, although that is one specific explanation for the errors. More likely it is sloppy practice. If I were a journalist I think I’d try to avoid either criticism being levelled at me. Isn’t reliability part of the currency of journalism?
      Moreover I don’t think I’ve speculated about the source of information except on an open basis. That is to say that if I’m not sure about something I say so. I don’t assert it as fact.

      • I think the reporting is remarkable given how secretive the system is!

        So it got few things not quite on target, but then i have seen far far worse than this by social workers, horrifically so and often!

        The interesting thing is I have been directly involved in maybe 10 of the cases Booker has reported on and he is far more accurate that the professionals involved in the cases.

  55. […] December 2nd, Family Law blogger Pink Tape came out with a useful blog, attempting to address some of these questions.  The blog made several […]

  56. […] beginning. Many Tweeters (sorry: you’re too numerous to name individually) urged caution. The family law barrister Lucy Reed wrote an excellent blogpost on Monday. Adam Wagner wrote about it yesterday, and linked to posts by Elisabeth Prochaska and […]

  57. Hi, please would someone post the link to the now published Mostyn J judgement. I have read the bailii article but BobbyDaryn says something else has now been published. I don’t know where to look for it and google searches have been fruitless! :( Thank you

  58. Sorry, BobbyDarin

  59. I think the relevant part is in the note of Mostyn J dated 4/12. http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/media/judgments/2013/re-aa-approved-judgement

    Although no-one has sought to appeal the judgment dated 23 August 2012 during the last 15 months, or to have it transcribed for any other purpose, I have decided to authorise its release together with the verbatim transcript of the proceedings and the order made so as to inform and clarify recent public comments about this case.

    From which we can pretty conclusively say there was no attempt by the journalists to find out what happened in court that day, what was ordered or why it was ordered.

    (Unlike Lucy) I’m willing to call it as I see it. I don’t think the writers of the original article really cared what the facts were. They had some facts and they could make a good story out of them. Additional facts were not likely to make the story any better so either they weren’t sought or the writers had no idea how to get them.

    In my view it’s in seeking the whole story where the journalism starts. But, where Christopher Brooker is involved, we should not be surprised.

  60. This case confirms what I already knew: it is astonishingly easy to end up in a NHS mental ward and be locked up without a trial for no reason, and then being dragged through a Kafkaesque court system and procedures that “officially allow” to forcefully operate on a woman and then separate her from her child and a child from it’s mother. What on earth can justify such cruelty? But behold, we are in the UK, where such cruelties happen everyday and an army of “good” people invents every long lists of “good reasons” that excuse such barbarities.

    Where is the evidence in the case against this woman? The evidence she was unfit? The evidence she had to be sectioned, held against her will, cut open and parted from her child and the child from her? There is no evidence, that is the crux of the matter, the entire case against her is based on hearsay and “opinions” of people within the system. She behaved erratic while being locked up? She behaved oddly? Who wouldn’t when taken, locked up and abused likes she was?

    This happened to an Italian national being in the UK on a business trip. She was 4 months pregnant when was taken. Consequently she was kept in the ward against her will (Who allowed such a thing? The Law. Where was her advocate? Non available due to budget cuts. Who spoke Italian to her? Nobody, it was too inconvenient) until the “baby was ripe for the taking”.

    The wider legal implications of allowing such a thing to take place (against a foreign national with no residence in the UK) nobody addresses so far. At least Slate magazine looks a bit deeper what all this actually means for Women’s Legal Rights and that these kind of abuses are actually not that new.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/12/02/forced_c_section_in_the_uk_what_happened_to_an_italian_mother_could_happen.html

    Luckily this unfortunate Italian woman gets some help. She can stand up against this barbarity. Yet such things happen to many British, and non-British and visiting people every day. Nobody looks, and only very few stand up for them. They suffer in silence. Britain is a menace to human rights, and one is well advised to stay away and to keep children out of Britain, because “the system is out there” and it is utterly obscene and insane.

    Now that the story of the Italian mother has been outed by Booker and the world press is picking up on what goes on in the UK, the system fights back, seeking to justify it’s cruelties, neglect and abuses through liberal sounding platitudes and it’s as liberal posing media. Hush hush..

    Fact is: It is so damn easy in the UK to make a case against a person, in particular a woman, and it is so easy to abuse people at random and at will. It takes absolutely nothing to end up in such a situation as this Italian woman did, within a system that has so many willing helpers. Always ready to perpetrate such abuses and always willing to defend abusers.

    Shame on Britain and all it’s institutions. And shame on everybody who let their self interests get in the way of justice and truth.

    http://rotemutter.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/population-surveillance-child-protection-the-battle-of-all-mothers/

  61. You answer your own question Familoo (at 72); the hands that rocked the cradle stole the baby away.

  62. “Intrigued about your view Booker got the substance right. You concede that there was an error of reporting regarding the social work involvement in the c-section. I think that is a pretty big failure of reporting. I struggle to see how one can blame Essex for the error, who were constrained by the rules regarding privacy of proceedings (rules that the press seem to think don’t apply to them).”

    Re the social workers c-section point: 1. Yes Essex CC social services were not party to proceedings in the c-section hearing. But they were involved in the case by that point – J Mostyn refers to information submitted by the Health Trust that he believes shows the intention to remove the baby after birth, to the extent that he thinks he needs to go to the trouble of warning Essex CC via his judgment that it would be heavy-handed to have a police officer in the delivery room.
    2. It’s also clear that the reason the doctors feared that the woman might not cooperate was that she believed they wanted to take away the child. The NHS Trust had no power to remove the child. At this point we can only speculate because that’s where the facts end. Why might the woman have those fears? Because she independently came to that conclusion, or because it was suggested to her. If it was suggested – and this seems more likely to me – then who made the suggestion?
    Let’s now go back to what was reported. The error is in the claim that social workers ordered the c-section to take place. They don’t have that power. But it’s quite clear that the health-social services-police team was arranging for the baby to be removed before birth and that this was done without informing the woman. That is the entire thrust of the story – it’s not specifically an attack on social workers. From the woman’s perspective it probably doesn’t matter whether this was done on the behest of social services or a clinician or the police. It matters to the reputation of social workers in general, and their ability to do their jobs.
    Even then, there is a difference between a technical point – being wrong about the body made the application for the c-section – and the realpolitik of the situation, that social workers, clinicians and police made a decision to use their powers to perform a c-section on a woman without her knowledge and with the intention of taking her new born baby into care. Social workers were involved.

    Essex refused to engage on the Friday (assuming the story wasn’t put to them any earlier) then managed to put out a statement on the Monday that conceals their involvement in the process until after the baby was born. We don’t know what changed over the weekend but it’s fair to take their words at face value – all they said was that they have a policy of not commenting on these matters, and when they released the statement they did not say they had been prevented by the courts from commenting up to that point.

    “I take your point that the reporting appears to have achieved a greater level of transparency as it has forced the publication of two of the three relevant judgments (ICO still awaited). I don’t think that justifies the content of the reporting and nor does it absolve the press of the responsibility to get their facts straight. What would have stopped them obtaining a copy of the judgment or making an application for its publication or release? Nothing. I would bet my bottom dollar that they just didn’t bother.”

    It’s absolutely right that the press should get their facts straight. Do public bodies have any responsibility to help the press get their facts straight? Essex CC were approached and refused to make any comment at all. After publication, they put a partial and rather opaque version of events into the public domain which is strongly contested by the woman’s family and one line in particular – that social workers “liaised extensively” with the extended family – is contradicted by information the two judgments we have. Where does that leave us in determining what the facts are? And what should the proper course of action be in terms of publication? Is it your position that the Sunday Telegraph should have waited until it had the court judgments until publishing? If those judgments were never made public or never made available to them, then should the story never have been published?

    Your question about making an application for the judgment’s publication or release is fair – but I have to ask in reply how one goes about doing this. Courts do not generally give out transcripts or judgments in cases when asked for them, at least not by journalists anyway. As a barrister you might be able to give some advice on which buttons to press. I’m assuming you don’t think that newspapers should routinely use lawyers to make applications to courts for information – this would make journalism prohibitively expensive in most cases.

    “I haven’t implied fabrication, although that is one specific explanation for the errors. More likely it is sloppy practice. If I were a journalist I think I’d try to avoid either criticism being levelled at me. Isn’t reliability part of the currency of journalism?”

    I’m sorry, but there is a clear meaning to the phrase ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’ and it extends far beyond sloppy practice. It must mean that the person telling the story knows there are other facts that would contradict their version, or has a good reason to believe there at least might be other facts and makes no attempt to find out what they are. That’s not sloppiness – that’s an intention to mislead. And I think lying is worse than making a mistake.

    “Moreover I don’t think I’ve speculated about the source of information except on an open basis. That is to say that if I’m not sure about something I say so. I don’t assert it as fact.”

    Does it really matter that you’ve speculated on an open basis as you put it? My point is that you’ve speculated to make your points and to criticise both the factual basis of the report and the conduct of the newspaper and journalists. You don’t know how they went about things and don’t believe – without contacting them – that they acted in good faith (“It follows that either The Telegraph did not see the legal papers as it claims, did not read or understand them properly, put two and two together from limited documentation to make five, or misrepresented what it had read.”) You seem to be holding the Sunday Telegraph (and, by the way, that’s an entirely different publication to the Daily Telegraph, as much as the Mid-Essex Health Trust is different to Essex County Council) to a higher standard than the social workers, the health trust, the police, the judges or Essex CC. They deserve the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in, you argue, but the journalists do not.

    • When I speculate I say I’m speculating. Others speculate and couch it in terms that make it sound like fact.

      Sunday Telegraph may be separate organisation but the post was published on Saturday on the Telegraph website. It is indistinguishable in internet terms. I think it would be repetitive to respond to your other points.

  63. Well the judgment’s out now! 9 paragraphs of cozy chat and barely-examined evidence, 30 mins perhaps, to destroy a person’s human rights and autonomy!

    Clearly the clinical need element was make-weight bunkum. There was no pressing danger to the mother’s health. Less than 1% chance of uterine rupture during a natural birth after a previous C-section. It’s such a commonplace procedure, it has its own medical abbreviation: VBAC. Google it.

    Absence of legal capacity: David Lock QC was prepared to countenance the theoretical possibility that Alessandra Pacchieri may have had periods of lucidity such that she was mentally competent, notwithstanding her continued detention under the Mental Health Act, but he certainly wasn’t prepared to delay matters for an investigation into that issue and blithely consented to the order. What price human rights with champions such as he in the arena on one’s behalf?

  64. Well said, Michael.

    The overwhelming sense one obtains from reading two judgements so thin as to be almost meaningless, is that the the courts function as a rubber stamp for social services decisions.

    Q. What do English football hooligans and UK social services have in common?
    A. They both cause enormous damage to this country’s national reputation.

  65. I have to agree to some degree with Michael.

    Was the small risk of rupture worth it? Worth using force to sedate a heavily pregnant woman to carry out a potentially risky procedure under general anaesthetic?

    I don’t think so and given that there is some concerning inferences from Ms Burnham about the welfare of the child I feel very uneasy about the judgement. Also not comfortable with the woman’s advocate not being known and the errors regarding the woman’s condition. If you are arguing someone is incapable then you have to actually be clear on why. There is no room for error on that point.

    It over all seems very dismissive and does not seem to take into account the ramifications of forcing someone to have surgery.

  66. […] Somehow, the completely separate Court of Protection, with its adult mental capacity jurisdiction, and family courts, which deal with the welfare of children, had been conflated into a baby-snatching conspiracy. Within hours, the portrayal of England and Wales as a jurisdiction where a pregnant visitor could find herself sedated so that her baby could be seized by social workers had become a global sensation. Those who found the Telegraph story implausible could do little more than hope the relevant court judgments would soon emerge so that sufficient full facts would be known. The relevant mental capacity law was explored by Lucy Series and the relevant child care law by family law barrister, Lucy Reed. […]

  67. Foreign visitors beware ,it could happen to you !Why can’t everybody see the simple truth?An Italian lady came to uk on business ,fell ill ,was kept in uk and refused permission to return home ,and finally had her baby stolen and bypassing family members the child was marked down for adoption by strangers.

    • Ian, You know that I disagree with views like these, which are simply frightening women unnecessarily. Even if things have gone wrong in this case (there are a number of outstanding questions to which we still do not know the answer) it still does not add up to the kind of conspiracy your comments suggest nor does it necessarily transpose to a representative sample of the system as a whole. It is on any view an atypical case. If it weren’t the hysteria would be more muted.

      • he is not frightening women for nothing, he is giving them a sensible warning. This disgraceful thing happened, you seem to be in denial, either that or you have been persuaded to spread propaganda for the SS.

      • Perhaps you would like my evidence of 6,500 children from 115 countries Lucy?

        Perhaps you would like my evidence of LA acting criminally??

        This is not an issue that will go away, I have done my research, I know the patterns, maybe you are just TOO CLOSE to see it??

  68. I wish familoo someone had “frightened” the mother we are discussing as if she had not come to the UK she would surely still be with her baby !I just stated facts not opinions in the post you disapprove of, apart from the fact that I have helped two other foreign visitors who lost their children on a temporary visit to UK (one successfully and the other not).Forced adoption and Punishment without crime are always wrong.I do not imply any conspiracies ;That is just how the present system works and it needs to change !

    • Forced Adoption – you almost make it sound as if the state seeks to take foreign children simply because they are foreign. Presumably this is not what you intend to imply.

  69. According to the Judgement (23 Aug 2012), the mother “suffers from a schizophrenic disorder, which is psychotic in nature”. The press repeatedly refer to a Bipolar Disorder, supposedly on the basis of the family’s word. The diagnosis is significant as it may hint at the type of MH medication that she was prescribed. If for example she was on typical bipolar meds – invariably anticonvulsants (sometimes co-prescribed with other meds)- she would have had understandable reasons for wanting to stop them as they are strongly associated with a serious risk for birth defects. In stopping the meds, in one sense the mother may actually have taken a decision based on concern for the unborn. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of MH drugs is often played down and patients come off far too rapidly and without the appropriate level of guidance – then suffer rebound withdrawal effects, including psychosis, panic attacks etc. What is not clear from any of the published evidence is whether or not her apparent incapacity to make her own decisions at the time of sectioning was, in part at least, pharmacogenic. The decision that the mother lacked capacity was ultimately based on the psychiatrist’s report. It would seem that he may only have had dealings with her from June 2012. Even doctors who know a patient over a period of years can fail to distinguish medication induced psychosis from that of other causes. Having said that, as far as I know, we only have the idea that she stopped her meds from the press – and they seem to have got most things muddled or simply wrong!

  70. Social Services, Break families dont make families. A law to themselves, cohursive, persuasive, and able to give false information without any punishment. Be very careful indeed.
    If you have a low risk case then you are in even more trouble as they will twist, turn, step outside legal and professional boundaries to make you look worse, so they can control your life and actually erase your human right to a family life.
    They will indeed do this to justify their on existance and abuse the powers they hold.
    Be very wary of them , make notes at every meeting, ask to see minuites of the meeting. Until they are involved in your life you will never know what they will put you and your family through. At the same time they will not visit a known abused child on child protection for two years too late. so the child dies, And so how do they justify this. By hitting hard every low risk, off off incident cases until then can break the family. Sounds untrue eh?. I promise you its the case indeed.

    • Cruggy, What you say doesn’t make sense. For what purpose would social services wish to ignore cases of actual child harm and neglect in order to fabricate high risk in cases where risk is low? That just sounds like making work for themselves for no good reason.

  71. Certainly social services take foreign children more often these days because they have found that those parents make easy targets and are often so bewildered that they are even less able to defend themselves than native British.
    Familoo ,can I ask the same question I always ask in cases such as this ?
    Why was this lady refused permission to return to Italy either for the birth or after the birth with her baby so that Italian social services could deal with any issues?
    Despite all the obfuscation by yourself and some others in their comments; the fact remains that she came to the UK on a short visit and was escorted back to Italy without her baby because that unfortunate infant had been marked down by UK social services for adoption by strangers !

    • Oh I see, it IS the conspiracy theory you intended to infer.
      As to your question “Why was this lady refused permission to return to Italy either for the birth or after the birth with her baby so that Italian social services could deal with any issues?” – I don’t think we have enough information to answer that question on anything more than a superficial level – i.e. there was an interim care order in place that prevented it, and that order would have been based primarily upon immediate risk associated with the mother’s mental health. There is very little information out there about the reasons for the jurisdictional / international issues being dealt with as they were – although I think we do knwo that the Italian courts were aware of the proceedings and didn’t at the time appear to dispute jurisdiction.
      I’m not sure what obfuscation you think I am guilty of. Disagreeing with you does not equate to obfuscation. Contrary to what you say it appears that she travelled back to Italy (in circumstances which the care judge criticised) long before any decision was made regarding adoption. It is unknown at this stage whether at the point of her return to Italy the Local Authority had already formed a view that its care plan would be placement.

      • There is nothing conspiratorial about the Italian Consulate not being informed as soon as the mother was in the Psyc unit and not being informed of the court case to decide on the C-section, they just were not despite all the lawyers involved and it clearly being a requirement of international law.

  72. Dear me I see must simplify !

    AN Italian lady making a short visit to the UK has committed no crime,but has had her baby stolen by UK Social services for forced adoption by strangers.

    Can anything excuse such an outrage? No ,there are no circumstances imaginable that could do so.

    • It is impossible to discuss on these terms. You omit highly material information (such as the mother’s temporary and possible future incapacity). Whether it IS justified in this case is a separate question from whether it MIGHT BE CAPABLE of justification depending on the specific facts. Your brute position is that removal of children from their families is NEVER justified. So we are never going to agree.

      • Well the Elephant in the room is the UK’s cavalier attitude to law!

        At least the Italian Gov has woken up to it, as many others are, all told there are 115 countries that should be highly upset with the UK.

        • I’m interested to know which arm of the state is responsible for the liaison with the consulates? From what you say it seems as if no single limb feels it is responsible for carrying out this duty (LA, court, CAFCASS, etc). Who SHOULD be doing it and where is that set out?

  73. Thank you, Familoo, for posting your update to this post. I was talking about it with my friends and they were very impressed I knew so much about it!.

    Ian, hi. I wanted to say that since I’ve virtually met you I’ve been tirelessly learning about people who have tried to challenge the decision to remove their child, social services’ reputation, and “conspiracy theories” such as ‘the crystal ball theory’ (said by Amy Lillian Johnson) and that SW makes money from fostering and adoption of ‘easy’ children… and the most sad one, that it’s ‘punishment without a crime’ (risk of emotional harm. I’ve cyber-stalked everyone talking about it on youtube and have actually cried at the hopelessness of some of the situations.

    It’s extremely frustrating to only get one side of the story, even those people who give their interpretation of what social services are doing can’t reveal too much lest they jeopardise their case.

    I met with the manager of my local authority’s adoption department and I raised the subject of the crystal ball theory. I’ve been so wrapped up in researching it I’d forgotten the implications of saying this to someone in that position!

    The manager handled it well by responding to me in three ways, firstly that in Europe they don’t have ‘forced adoption’ which is what they call our system, secondly that British SW has historically favoured emphasis on the parent’s needs but has changed to meet the needs of the child as paramount, and thirdly that SW’s recognise there is no crystal ball. The decision is made on the best information available on that day.

    It is not the same as guessing, being psychic, or placing a bet, it’s making an informed decision about where the child would be best off. Where would they be more likely to thrive. Sometimes it’s just not with the parents.

    By the point of removal, SWs have assessed other family members as unwilling or unsuitable. These assessments are based on research in child development. Everything seems to point toward children needing to learn to be securely attached to a carer and to learn how to be loved by someone they can depend on, who responds appropriately to their needs, and doesn’t compromise their safety. The alternative is rather than experience unpredictable reactions from at best, to leave children with parens who behave in ways the child can’t predict or depend on, this has far-reaching consequences as they grow up and mingle in society. it is very sad that they may have parents who love them but cannot give them a good enough start in the world.

    Many times parents pull through for their children. SW’s explain what improvements they’re looking for and why the parents are being asked to meet these standards to keep their children, but sometimes the parents are unwilling or unable to do it.

    SWs can help parents learn better ways of understanding their children’s needs and how to relate to them better. It’s not about power and control of people or making money – surely you know there are more lucrative ways of doing that! it’s about Britain’s unique society and responding to the unmet needs of it’s children.

    I’ve been on your website and I think some of what you’ve got there is very interesting and helpful to people. I respectfully believe you’ve got good intentions. However, I’ve only ever seen you ‘think the best’ of parents. In all the time you’ve worked on this have you ever actually feared that a parent was mistreating their child? Did you help them anyway?

    Do you believe that some parents hurt their children?

  74. If parents hurt their children AL it is a crime but parents who do not commit crimes should never be punished.Of course some parents are wicked in the way they treat their kids but on the whole those parents give the family courts a wide berth and do not fight for their children’s return;I cannot imagine the mother of baby p for example begging a judge to return him to her if he had survived the torture she and her lover had given him.
    “Forced adoption” and “punishment without crime” are both wicked crimes in themselves and those who knowingly perpetrate them should be locked up !I never judge parents and usually assume that what the local authority allege is true and ask if even that justifies forced adoption and/or punishment without crime and it very rarely does.Every person charged with a crime has whether innocent or guilty the right to a lawyer to defend them and every parent whose child has been taken has a right to advice from anyone who offers it;I make no apology for offering such advice myself.

  75. Familoo you misquote my position.I have never said that children should never be removed from parents.If parents commit serious crimes against their children then more often or not those children should be removed. Both “punishment without crime” and “forced adoption” are however crimes in themselves and all those who are knowingly involved in the perpetration such crimes should be locked up !
    Noone can imagine any circumstances however ill the mother was that could justify keeping the Italian lady’s baby in the uk and forcibly adopting her.

  76. […] Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh? [Pink Tape] […]

  77. Cruggy, at 94, makes perfectly valid points about social services which legal professionals, if they haven’t absorbed them already, ought to. Staying in denial as we see here, isn’t an option.

    Social workers will lie, exaggerate or dissemble to push the facts the way they want, or invent for lack of them, and I have the documents to prove it. My child was no more a subject for multi-agency S.47 than yours and yet somehow I went through this nightmare of bollocks and suspicion so charlatans in police, social services and NHS could play their game at my and my child’s expense. And it costs, particularly if you have to run for cover of the law as I did.

    Phony professionals defer to one another as rumour passes along a chain to transmute into phony facts. It is a process more akin to alchemy than anything. The whole multi-agency system of child protection in the UK based on jobsworthyism isn’t worth a candle and doesn’t save children either. Quite apart from mess up the lives of individuals affected by their phony ways, it also takes the responsibility away from parents from looking after their own and looking out for everyone else’s too.

  78. […] NEVER LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY EH? […]

  79. Al (101),
    Are you familiar with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? Both the UK and Italy have ratified it, as have almost 200 other nations around the world. I wonder if the SW’s or the manager you spoke with know about the UN CRC and what their thoughts are, seeing how it lays out the most widely-accepted set of protections and rights for children.

    ForcedAdoption,
    Thank you for simplifying some of the fundamental concerns with this case.

    Lucy/Familoo,
    I don’t think ForcedAdoption ever, ever implied or suggested that children should have to remain with abusive parents who severely endanger their children (such as the Hana Williams’ adoptive parents in Washington, US). I don’t think anyone would rightfully say that children must endure parental abuse and stay with them. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with this case, since no one has said that she abused any of her children, or that all of her family members/relatives/friends of family who have offered to raise Baby P would abuse or harm Baby P. Please stick to the issues at hand and not resort to distorting tactics because a commenter is bringing up pertinent issues in a clear way. As an apparent law professional yourself, you must understand the social justice and human rights implications that ForcedAdoption and many of us are wondering about in this case.

    Adoption makes permanent a family separation. In Baby P’s case, it would remove him/her from all of her relatives, nation, culture and language. This should only be done under severe circumstances, when all other safe options wouldn’t be possible. As many know, this mother hasn’t committed any crime that would harm Baby P. And this baby has a mother, father, family, friends, and country who are more suitable than complete strangers in a country where the mother was visiting (and probably has nightmares about).

    • Jeze,
      Forced Adoption regularly suggests on this blog and elsewhere that in the absence of a conviction for serious crime there should be no removal of children. He doesn’t agree with the law (Children Act 1989) which permits removal of children where they have suffered significant harm – unless it can be proved to the criminal standard in a criminal court. He’s entitled to his opinion but Parliament disagrees with him, as I suspect would many members of the public. He also suggests that parents who suspect sexual abuse of their children should not inform the authorities: “Never ask them for help.Think very carefully before you report a violent partner(especially if the abuse is only verbal) or even a sexual molester(especially if the children beg you to say nothing) as once social workers or police are involved you risk losing your children for “failing to protect them”". The Golden Rule is “Never complain Never explain”. See this and other golden rules here here. So you should see my slightly weary sounding response to him on this particular post in that context.
      Lucy

  80. […] Posted by Hetta Do you have a link to that story? I found this blog to be balanced: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh? It doesn't seek to answer many of the questions raised by this case. It just points out the poor […]

  81. Yes I am familiar with it, Jeze. In the UK we also have enshrined the rights of a child in the 1989 Children Act, and the ammendments in the 2004 Children act – I think.. And i think that somewhere in the 2002 Adoption and Children Act is also relevant. Particularly as it defines the emotional harm that children experience through witnessing a person harm another – for example in cases of domestic violence. There are probably more but you’re better off asking Lucy.

    My view of Forced Adoption aka Ian – his name which he’ll happily tell you on his website, is that he’s got good intentions. My wider view of him is that he’s in a financial position to effect change in children’s lives without much (as far as I can learn) recourse to risk assessment.

    Not wanting to form opinions without some kind of evidence, and therefore do him an injustice, I have asked him anout the ‘vetting process’he uses before he helps these families, and he replied something like, ‘of course I helped them, every child deserves to be raised by their family’.

    What I learnt from his website is that he pays for mothers or families to ‘flee’ social services in the UK if they have been assessed as posing a risk of emotional or physical harm to their children. If they can fly to a ‘more lenient country’ (aka where “forced adoption” doesn’t exist) Ian will pay for their flights.

    The commendable part of Ian’s work is that he seems to me to champion the rights of parents. Which, in my view, social work should be able to do. If a parent is neglecting or emotionally abusing their child, that child’s love for their parent and any love they recieve in return, will still be fundamental to that child’s identity and development. I feel that social work is not failing to try to help parents to care for their children better, but it has to draw the line sooner than it would, if there were more resources for the professionals to draw on. Things could be better for everyone if society was more equal, if social work could address some of the early intervention work which is so strongly recommended, if the banks hadn’t collapsed and… Ok I’ll save this rant for another forum! But I don’t see social work as a corrupt profession with corrupt intentions. I think social workers are incredibly brave. They go into houses with a phone for protection, whereas the night before it took three armed police to intervene.

    The critical view I take of Ian’s work is that he puts himself in possibly quite a vulnerable position. if he helps a family flee social services who then cause their child grevious harm, he is either partly culpable at worst, or, at best, unsupported in his own position of ‘mysterious benefactor’. I’m sure he has great support in his own family, but I might argue that he has elected himself as psychologist, social worker, barrister, and judge. That’s a great deal of responsibility. I just hope he knows what he’s doing. I have far too many questions about his work for my own good!

    I can see why you thought Lucy was in error to ‘draw in’ all those elements which were unsaid-on-this-thread. Perhaps you’ve not encountered Ian or maybe this blog before. However, I wanted to support her and say that this is a conversation over many blog post comments – dating back to before I joined in! You’re basically viewing the ongoing debate of two well informed and passionate individuals.

  82. Also, it’s worth remembering that when you were little your birthday seemed to take FOREVER to come round again. I remember once I had almost forgotten I had a birthday until my mum said it was coming up!

    Imagine you’re growing up with alcoholic or domestically abusive parents or siblings and nothing changes, ever, except to get worse. Imagine being in foster care for a year while your social worker tries to work with your parents, and help them get to a point where they’re safe to look after you.

    You’ll already be aware that we have 52weeks a year, after more or less, 936 weeks (18×52) a week starts to zip past. However, if you have only lived gor 2weeks, 40weeks, 62weeks, or I dunno, 567weeks, time is passes much slower.

    The rights of the child recognise that children experience time differently. Social work has to make the right decision, fast! But it has to do that through finding evidence and following procedure – to protect everyone including the worker.

  83. FAMILOO:-I certainly believe that punishment without crime is wrong and ,put like that I think that most of the publc and even parliament woud agree with me if that question were ever put to them.I doubt if those who drafted the Children Act 1989 envisaged the wholesale removal of thousands of children with no actual proof that they had suffered significant harm just opinions of hired experts and social workers…..
    [edited]

    • Ian, I’ve edited your post because – well, because I can and I’m prepared to allow most things but not to allow you a platform to justify your golden rules. You can do that elsewhere and no doubt will.

  84. […] (A Child) [2013] EWHC 4048 (Fam) (17 December 2013). (You can read my earlier posts on this topic here here and […]

  85. Familoo I only justified my golden rules because you enumerated them,quoted from them ,and criticised them !However you,on your site, are quite at liberty to delete what you want from anything I contribute but it’s a pity as I was rather enjoying the exchange…………………

  86. AL I do not pay for familes to flee willy nilly.
    I pay for pregnant women to flee the UK to avoid forced adoption and removal of their babies at birth for “risks” that may never happen.No lawyer can guarantee the innocence of their clients who nevertheless are all entitled to legal adice and defence.All parents are entitled to advice from myself and others ;and for mypart I usually see court papers and the LA position statement before giving advice.

  87. […] my own commentary but the work has been done formidably over at Pink Tape, so I take the liberty to linking to that excellent account of the case (do note that there are two sequels to the post I am linking to here and […]

  88. […] interest and comment. There is excellent commentary from both Carl Gardner on Head of Legal and Pink Tape should your memory need […]

  89. […] case, which I can now refer to as the case involving Italian mother Alessandra Pacchieri (Post 1 Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh?, Post 2 Update on the Essex C-Section Case) . I have been unable to do this before initially […]

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