Blogosphere in the Judgosphere

Today, “blogosphere” entered the judicial lexicon and I appeared in my first reported judgment. Shame it wasn’t for anything I’ve done in court but hey ho. I think it is the first time that a legal blogger has been quoted in a judgment, which is something to tell the grandchildren (yeah, whatevs gran).

Of course, trivia aside, behind this is a serious judgment about a serious and heartwrenching case, as the judgment in question is that of the President of the Family Division, Munby LJ, in connection with the Reporting Restrictions Orders in the case regarding the child of Allessandra Pacchieri.

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

The case is interesting for two main reasons:

  • because it makes the timeline in the case a little clearer, and we can therefore extrapolate a little more about what is likely to happen in future.
  • because it tells us the direction of travel for future cases of press and public interest

As Suesspicious Minds observes however, it is not the rollicking b*llocking of the press that some had anticipated it would be (although Munby sounds pretty thin lipped about the quality of their reporting when he prays in aid my little quote he is right to observe that it is no business of the courts to monitor the free press).

Munby asks at pa 44:

How can the family justice system blame the media for inaccuracy in the reporting of family cases if for whatever reason none of the relevant information has been put before the public?

before going on to say we can’t go on like this (finally) – we have GOT to publish more (I paraphrase). About time. Although, if this is a solution to a problem, I think the question of causation is rather more complex than the solution suggests. It is not as if one can say “but for” the absence of publicly available information inaccurate or tendentious reporting would not exist. If that were the case the many inaccurate articles published before the publication of Mostyn J’s Court of Protection case would by now have been corrected. They have not been. If that were the case there would not have been widespread reports that Munby was calling in the case to “demand an explanation” from social workers, based on a media release that said no such thing (see the judgment for detail of this). No. Whilst it is not the role of the judiciary to curtail press freedom on the basis of the quality of reporting, nor to enter the arena and criticise them for the quality or tone of their reports – that does not mean there is not a legitimate public debate to be had about the role and conduct of the mainstream press. I am pleased information will be publicly available both to the press, to legal bloggers and to the public – but I don’t think that excuses reporting that is knowingly based on incomplete information, that is expressed in trenchant and inaccurate terms and misleads the public about matters of genuine public interest – either before or after any transparency reforms. The press could have sought further information. They could have waited. They could have employed appropriate caveats. I have doubts that the publication of judgments will entirely resolve the problem – because for me it is caused not just by lack of information but by a lack of incentive to report all the facts and to do so in a measured way. It is a feature of the press that there should be a story, a sellable, gaspworthy story. Judgments are plodding, laborious and intricate. Cases rarely involve clear cut villains and heroes (except in our submissions).

It also concerns me greatly to have been made aware (from two different sources) of information suggesting that an individual (who I will not name but who ought to know better) published information on the internet in this jurisdiction on Friday evening (at a point where the interim RRO had been renewed, but prior to the publication of the judgment and order confirming that renewal) which named all three of Ms Pacchieri’s children. That was clearly a breach of the RRO, although I do not know if it was with knowledge of the continuing existence of a RRO, that person must have known it was likely such an order would be renewed. It is plain from Munby’s judgment that there can have been no legitimate public interest or necessity to publish those names and nor can there have been any justification. And yet it was done (although it has now been removed). (Please do not speculate in comments about this, I will not publish any comments about the identity of the person in question).

So to sum up. Yay for more published judgments. But lets see how it goes eh?

This judgment will of course be wielded by those who wish to suggest that it is precisely this sort of high profile reporting that is necessary in order to get information in the public domain, to drive the reforms that Munby has now acknowledged are so pressing – it will be said the judgment vindicates the conduct of the media. But frankly, they were pushing at an open door and would have been pushing at an open door in relation to publication of information in this particular case had only they asked at the outset. As Munby said in his judgment “it is hard to imagine a case which more obviously and compellingly requires that public debate be free and unrestricted.”. Indeed. And it is no more obvious and compelling for all the lurid headlines. It was always obvious and compelling. They should have asked.

On the future, Munby’s actual words at pa 45 were these:

“This case must surely stand as final, stark and irrefutable demonstration of the pressing need for radical changes in the way in which both the family courts and the Court of Protection approach what for shorthand I will refer to as transparency. We simply cannot go on as hitherto. Many more judgments must be published. And, as this case so very clearly demonstrates, that applies not merely to the judgments of |High Court Judges; it applies also to the judgments of Circuit Judges.”

I agree. But I also worry about these things:

  • what about district judges who are now routinely dealing with care cases?
  • what about Magistrates who have always routinely dealt with care cases?
  • what about the resource implications? the process of preparing a judgment for publication is laborious and time consuming for both judge and court staff. The process variously involves the location of court recordings, obtaining of transcript, amendment and approval of transcript, anonymisation of it etc, or the preparation of an appropriately anonymised reserved judgment on a computer in the first instance. Even the preparation of Magistrates’ facts and reasons takes a considerable length of time – in some local courts Magistrates are listing an additional half day for each full day of evidence to consider and prepare their facts and reasons.

These are not reasons not to do this but they are really quite large practical and financial problems to which I don’t know the answer.

And whilst we are in the business of saying we cannot go on as hitherto – judgments relating to reporting restrictions orders in cases of public interest should be published promptly and to the public at large. The article 10 points about freedom of speech in cases of public interest apply as much to legal blogging as to more traditional forms of writing, and form a part of the modern ecosystem of legitimate public debate. In the interest of informed and balanced debate, those without press cards or access to Copy Direct must be in a position to know what they can and cannot report in order that they do not either inadvertently breach some unseen order or (more likely) so that they might feel able to report on matters which are likely to be subject to some specific but limited restrictions.

I hope in due course there will be a Practice Direction regarding the routine publication of Reporting Restrictions Orders and associated judgments in one central location, and setting out the appropriate mechanism for journalists, legal bloggers and other interested persons to find out what restrictions are in place in any given case.

Finally, to return to the specifics of this case : we now know that Mother spent some time after the making of care and placement orders pursuing proceedings in Italy, although it remains unclear what those proceedings were based on. She made no appeal against the orders in this jurisdiction. It is also now known that the child has been placed for adoption AND that there is presently no outstanding application concerning this child before the court. The significance of this is as follows. Since the child has been placed for adoption – but not yet adopted – Ms Pacchieri cannot apply to revoke the placement order. It is too late. Since the application for adoption has yet to be made by the adopters she cannot presently make any other application. Only when that adoption application is made will she be able to apply for permission to oppose the making of the adoption order. The longer that the child is placed prior to the application being made the harder in general terms it is likely to be for Ms Pacchieri to succeed in obtaining leave to oppose (because of course the child will be more firmly settled in her proposed adoptive placement). The Italian Government has indicated to the court a wish to intervene, but there is presently nothing to intervene into. So I think that we can expect things to go quiet on this for a while in terms at least of the english adoption proceedings. Issues relating to the alleged failure to comply with international obligations relating to consular assistance may continue to rumble but those seem unlikely to impact on the substantive orders for placement.

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38 thoughts on “Blogosphere in the Judgosphere

  1. The time delays in obtaining transcribed Judgements has been visited recently by President J Munby in Re.C

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/1158.html

    16. Anyone reading the facts as I have set them out can only be dismayed – and that is to use diplomatic language. This case, like too many others in the Court of Appeal, has been delayed, unnecessarily and quite wrongly, by unacceptable delays in obtaining a transcript. I made strong comment about this in April this year in Re C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 431. Black LJ made similar comments in July in Re P (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 963. Something must be done to improve practice and performance in court offices. With that in mind, I shall be bringing this judgment to the attention of all Designated Family Judges and also the HMCTS Director of Civil, Family and Tribunals.

    I have two cases in the COA at the moment where there was no judgment produced at all, is this down to the voluminous case loads within the courts, we could all speculate the reasons behind the difficulties that seem to be a result of “Ghosts in the Machine”

    There must be another way, we need to find a happy medium, having faced difficulties in having some of my case judgments published this year on Bailii and Family Law Week one would suggest that if President Munby is going to achieve his and our over all goal of having more Judgments published from the lower extremities of the Family Courts then a more simplified way needs finding, answers on a post card please.

  2. Congratulations, :) although I’m sure Munby’s talked about you before: http://www.alc.org.uk/uploads/hershman_levy_memorial_lecture_2010.pdf I suppose it’s a bigger deal to be referred to in a reported judgement?

    This greater transparency stuff is making me think of Tony Blair’s comments in, ‘A Journey’. He regretted the FOI Act (freedom of info) because, he wrote, it was used by the media more than by the people.

    I wonder if greater transparency will bring about abuse of information? It’s common knowledge/opinion that information is manipulated by journalists now; giving them more without restricting the ‘free press’ in legislation to protect children and families from abuse must surely be dangerous.

    This makes me think about the ongoing trial of Rebekah Brooks. Something has to change, access to information is only getting easier. Not trying to sound like a dinosaur, but social work needs to face facts, the age of the internet is here!

    I’m all for greater transparency into government and politics – they can afford lawyers – but I’m not so in favour of publicised details of the private lives of vulnerable children and families. Especially in view of the cuts to legal aid.

  3. […] Blogosphere in the Judgosphere [Pink Tape] […]

  4. It’s hilarious, and a wonderful example of self-grandisement, that every legal blogger believes it was them that Munby was talking about.

    Narcissism personified.

  5. Allen Starr. Thanks. If you read pa 27 you’ll see he quotes my blog directly (read it and weep). Its not just a figment of my imagination you know. Although i do have an enormous head.

  6. @Lucy Reed

    Para 27? “Compare. And Contrast … And weep” ?

    That’s it? Seriously? If only we were all as smart as the legal profession to make such enlightening statements.

  7. Ah well, sorry to disappoint allen. It’s a quote from a longer piece about the case referred to and the reporting of it, elsewhere on this blog.

  8. Northern Lights

    “International obligations relating to consular assistance” I am not a legal expert, quite the opposite I should say… But what does that mean, in detail? What was the mistake British government did in dealing with ‘international obligations’? Just curious about your opinion.
    -
    Second… I am pretty sure that I have read somewhere that Italian women can never change their surnames. Munby says: as long as she uses her maiden surname. Well in theory that is the only name she has for the Italian law and two children were born not from husbands. In this case, naming the mother wouldn’t mean identifying the children too?
    Sorry if I ask that but I couldn’t follow Munby’s reasoning about that point.

    • Northern Lights – I have NO IDEA in respect of either question. Not really my area of expertise and no time to really focus on the consular assistance point myself. Sorry!

  9. I can testify familoo that I and my site have been quoted in several judgements but so far alas never in a complimentary way !!

  10. Being from the US I find it remarkably terrifying that a foreign country can declare a citizen or in this case a non-citizen mental unstable and then proceed to strip them of their rights. If the judgement stands then what kind of signal does that send? That it is fine to do this to British people overseas as per UK law? That is a scary thought.

    Thankfully I live in a country where people are granted an open and fair trial, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and basic human rights (except for the appalling Gitmo Bay detention center in Cuba).

    What about the precedent of [1994] 1 All ER 819
    man with mental illness refuses medical treatment for gangrene on irrational grounds upheld by UK law. How about St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v S; R v Collins and others, ex parte S [1998] 3 All ER 673 in which the NHS lied in order to get the ruling they so desired, the court upheld her right to autonomy.

    If some foreign government gets to decide that a non-citizen is unfit to be a parent or even a person in her child’s life then she has been reduced to merely an incubator and I find that deplorable. What crime did she commit other than suffering from a mental illness and a lack of proper care?

  11. No foreign citizens should ever have their babies snatched from them in the way that has now become common in the UK;All foreign nationals should be free to leave with their babies or children to return to their own countries with those children if they so wish.
    How can that ever be wrong?

  12. I just can’t believe they have taken so much from this women. I remember the first time my son learned to walk, when he first said dada, and even the midnight crying. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything and they are something this mother shall never have. Whether she gains custody or not she will never have those moments with her daughter. I am sorry if some do not understand why this case is such a tragedy.

    • Hi John

      I fully understand and empathise what this poor woman is going through. My experience wasn’t so extreme, I didn’t have my baby stolen while I was asleep but my baby was wrongly taken from me. Consequently she will shortly be adopted. These social workers here lie under oath at court to get what they want. They weren’t interested in my daughter’s welfare, they were protecting their interests. I was extremely vulnerable when they took my daughter (5 days after she was born). There was no evidence to suggest that I would harm my little girl. A stop needs to be put to this inhumane behaviour by “social care”, the only people they care about is themselves!!!!

  13. Are you going to discuss A Local Authority v C [2013] EWHC 4036 (Fam) (16 September 2013). A good example of something you might want to cover is the little things such as being judged and tried without any form of legal representation. How about it being completed one sided, or maybe how the court can take all personage and agency from anyone without real due process. I am not saying she should be granted custody of the child. What I am saying is this shadow court system with it lack of any true oversight is truly frightening.

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for the reference to that authority, which can be found here. I hadn’t planned to post on that case specifically, although it is important – as the judgment observes it is a highly unusual case, although not entirely unprecedented. I’d be interested to know how you think the child could have been protected in those hours following birth without an order being made, given the facts as set out in the judgment? It seems possible that the final decision in the case will have been made or may be made comparatively soon, and it is impossible to say from the pre-birth judgment what the outcome is likely to be.

      • Which facts do you refer to? The two previous children taken into custody fact. Low IQ to the point of mental retardation fact. That would be two facts I found.

        The accusation of recreational drug use without a drug test is closer to slander than fact. The second hand opinion by SS that she intentional harmed the second child at 3 weeks can be difficult to verify without eyewitness accounts leaving it to an educated guess. As for the mother’s condition they restated they were unable to examine her. The mental incapacity charge may or may not be legally tested dependent upon the courts views.

  14. IF your secret courts can order forced invasive surgical procedures against the will of the defendant whom they deem to be terrible parents unfit to have a family why not just get a court ordered sterilization? It would be life saving in the sense that they would no longer face complications from pregnancies the courts have ruled as being ill advised.

    Also in case A Local Authority v C [2013] EWHC 4036 (Fam) (16 September 2013. Why did they seek a court order before she was full term? I thought emergency weekend after hours backroom 52 minute agreements were the order of the day for forced c-sects?

    I do believe these to be important questions that have yet to be answered.

    • Well I think John that if the courts actually DID make orders for placement of children away from their families SIMPLY based on past conduct without reference to capacity to change or actual achieved change the logic of your rhetorical question would hold better. But they don’t. Often historic concerns persist as subsequent children are born and that does lead to removal of children, but no parent is automatically deemed unfit – they are entitled to a legal process and even though it is imperfect they do get one.

      In A they seem to have sought an order quite close to the due date – within a week or so. From a medical point of view she could have delivered at any time within two weeks either side of her due date, so given the facts as stated they would have needed to make that application pronto. I don’t really understand your reference to 52 minute agreements. Perhaps I have missed something? The forced c-section case that is the subject of this series of blog posts is not one where the c-section was a mechanism through which to achieve the removal of the child by social services as originally reported (for all the reasons I have set out at length), it was a step that the medics considered medically necessary. In this case (A) it doesn’t seem to have been thought medically necessary, and hence no such order was sought. The only order sought was one that attempted to avoid harm to the child arising from distressing the mother through notifying her of the legal process prior to separation, and which authorised separation in that short window of time before an order under the CA 1989 could be sought.

      • How is it fair for the secret courts to keep the defendants in the dark? How does one build a meaningful defense when you don’t even understand you have not only been judged but are given such a short time frame to appeal?

        • I’m not sure specifically what aspect of proceedings you are referring to here John. But in broad terms it is sometimes necessary to take a decision in the short term with limited information and limited information from all parties – to hold the position safely until a fuller hearing and consideration can be afforded, including the opportunity for all parties to properly defend themselves. The trick is in the balance between an urgent need to provide a short term safeguard and the need ultimately to make the process fair. The time for appeal in most cases is 21 days (7 for an Interim care order).

          • I was talking about the new court ordered c-sect.

            “In Mr Jones’ draft order he refers to an application for an emergency protection order or an interim care order. This local authority is in no doubt as to the basis of its potential application and the application must be prepared now and must be lodged at the first possible moment during court opening hours after the child is born. If I say ‘immediately’, that means that it does not go down by courier; it means that nobody is still checking for spelling mistakes, it means that it is all sorted out and it is all ready to go and it is with the court at the drop-box or in the court office. I direct that the local authority contacts its local Court where the application is to be issued to ask that special arrangements be made for receipt of this emergency application.

            I have some problems with this judgment and decision (not as a matter of law, the Judge followed Re D and balanced things but as a matter of principle and human rights). The remedy here for the removal at birth is that the mother has the opportunity to challenge within a few hours that decision at the EPO hearing. But how realistic is that?

            Firstly, she is going to be in a state of complete shock at the removal, which will be a total surprise to her. (I know that lawyers could look at the history and say “well, an EPO application was likely” but from mother’s perspective, if social workers have been working with her and never said that the baby would be removed, she might well think that she will keep the baby)

            Secondly, she is also in the immediate aftermath of childbirth, a process which is fairly stressful, painful and somewhat discombobulating (that is a huge understatement) – not putting one in the best shape to get dressed and get on a bus to court

            Thirdly, when she gets to Court, she is not entitled to instruct a solicitor to represent her, as she doesn’t have capacity

            Fourthly, the Official Solicitor hasn’t been warned of the pending application so that they will be ready at court to represent her

            So a vulnerable woman, with mental health problems, in the immediate aftermath of childbirth will be in Court, reeling from the shock of removal and representing herself at a contested removal hearing.

            Forgive me if I don’t think that this is terribly fair.”

            I site that from http://suesspiciousminds.com/2013/12/21/secret-decision-to-remove/

            Again I am not saying she is a fit mother. However that does not mean it is right to allow the secret court to run rough sod over her having already come to the conclusion she is unfit. Do they normally pass judgement without allowing the defendant a legal defense?

          • John,
            I don’t have any easy answers. Clearly it is a very difficult thing to achieve fairness in a case where a post-partum mother lacks capacity and there is a need for an urgent hearing. It seems likely from the judgment that the OS would have been invited to act very speedily – but clearly it may well have been the case that at the first EPO hearing the mother would be in effect unrepresented. One would hope that by the time of the ICO hearing that particular difficulty would have been resolved.
            Regardless of capacity issues it is often very difficult for a mother to be physically present at the first hearing – the mere fact of a c-section makes it difficult quite apart from any number of other practical hurdles. This does not in itself preclude instructions from being taken by a solicitor on behalf of the OS – and once the OS was on board that would clearly be an urgent responsibility of the solicitor appointed.
            Probably in this case there would have already been a solicitor appointed for the mother as it seems likely that pre-proceedings planning will have been initiated prior to the mother’s deterioration in condition. Since the question of capacity is issue specific and since there is a presumption of capacity the court dealing with any EPO hearing would have to make a determination on capacity at the outset – there would most likely be independent evidence regarding capacity obtained urgently through the care proceedings, but if the question of capacity was as clear an issue as appears to be the case from the judgment we have, there are real difficulties in acting pending receipt of that report – I think that if a solicitor was already appointed they would not be precluded from conveying their clients wishes and feelings but would be in difficulty in going further than that.

  15. One last question for the day I keep asking yet still can’t get a link to the Italian court’s ruling giving ECC full jurisdiction on the case. If some could provide the link to the Italian judgement I would be grateful cause I can not find it online anywhere and for whatever reason no has it their blog.

    • You probably can’t get a link to the Italian ruling (which says assorted different things depending on who you speak to) because there is a reporting restriction order preventing the naming of the child.

  16. Familoo

    Thanks for responding.You said “no parent is automatically deemed unfit”, do the courts believe a fit parent would be highly likely to harm their child? Seems that their belief of what she might do answers the question as to whether they believe she is a ft parent or not. You also said ” they are entitled to a legal process and even though it is imperfect they do get one”, is this the same process in which they obtained a court order without her having any legal representation seems very imperfect indeed. Lets say they don’t automatically assume she is unfit what happens if she turns things around making a full recovery. Is there a case under similar circumstances unfortunately yes. If you look at the Ms.P case she made a full recovery, held down a steady job taking care of the elderly, and even brushed up on her English language skills. The judge lamented that her self improvement was pointless as the decision of her parental ability was concluded long ago by past actions and that no matter what she did the court would not acknowledge her as a possible parent for her own child. That must be difficult for her to be told by a foreign government that had jurisdiction over her body and has jurisdiction of her child tell her that due to possible mistakes in the past she has no future. What more could MS.P have done, what chance would this new mother have even if she did turned her life around. I am not saying that the mother of the later case should necessarily have custody, what I am saying is that she should at least have some sort of legal representation instead of a one-sided debate that she will always lose.

    Believe it or not most women go to the hospital to give birth my wife included. After the mother gives birth they let her recuperate while nursing staff looks after the newborn. Here stateside the maternity ward nursing staff is not known for leaving children unprotected I am sorry if the situation is different in Essex. Also worth mentioning is mother-baby pscyh units under supervision though there would be no guarantee she would receive such treatment whether or not the medical personnel highly recommended it as the presiding judge can strike such recommendations down based on their own reasons.

    In regard to the emergency c-sect order my gripe was that they had her for 10 weeks and seemingly could not come up with a careplan for Ms.P instead waiting until the last moment to get a court order when it should have been done weeks prior knowing that she would be unable to leave the hospital. In this case they didn’t wait until the last moment proving that they could have arranged things much better.

    As far as the secret court order for forced sterilization. Would it not be for the best? A new pregnancy after three c-sects would mean she could suffer serious life ending complications. If there was even a 1% chance that she could die would it not be in her best interest, they would not even need to inform her of their decision as consent in cases such as hers is not needed.

    In this case I noticed they didn’t mention risk to the mother only her child. Does this mean that the court has put the rights of her baby ahead of her own? They mention the placenta and possible internal bleeding yet no mention if it is life threatening.

    As for the 52 minute meeting I was referring to the emergency court ordered c-sect which started at 16.16 on Thursday 23 August 2012 ending at 16.50 which is actually only 44 minutes. Not very not to have a sincere hearing on something some would think to have a little more time weigh the options possibly by looking up precedents relating to similar cases or simply see if the patient was mentally incapacitated, possibly get a second opinion from another doctor.

    It is a shame that they can not strike the needed names so that all the bickering over what the Italian court agreed upon could be sorted out.

    Also why would the Child A case set a legal precedent to follow when [1994] 1 All ER 819 gangrene was completely ignored when considering requirement of consent from mentally incapacitated patients?

    I am really not trying to be argumentative so much as that I have many questions regarding how things can get so convoluted. I am not going to bring up things such as whether or not they contacted the Italian authorities in timely manner as that horse has been beaten past death long ago.

    I really do appreciate you trying to answer my questions honestly and I apologize if I come off as rude as that is not my intent.

    • Paul,

      I’m not going to try and answer all your questions, but I think you are confusing an interim “holding” position with a final decision on the long term care of a child. It can be necessary to remove a child or to take steps to protect a child in the short term whilst the actual level of risk / capacity for change etc is looked at more thoroughly.

      It is impossible to tell in the c-section case what might have happened had the mother remained in the UK and engaged with the proceedings – what we do know is that she left for Italy and had a very limited involvement with the child as a result for the duration of the proceedings (and of course there is some criticism of the circumstances in which she returned to Italy, but the fact is that is what happened). My best guess as an outsider going only on the judgments is that this had a pretty major impact upon her prospects of securing a return of the baby, partly because it was more difficult to assess her / for her to provide robust evidence of sustained and sustainable improved mental health (rather than being well at the time of the final hearing which is not necessarily the same thing) and partly because the child probably had as a result its main attachment to foster carers rather than parent.

      The c-section decision was a major decision, and a highly unusual one – rarely sought and rarely granted. There are legitimate criticisms that can be made of the judgment and of the decision itself. There are a range of views out there about that. But any deficiency in that decision doesn’t directly bear upon the adoption decision which requires a different test to carry out a rather different exercise which is set out in statute and in case law (domestic and european).

      I’ve been sent a comment purporting to set out a translation of some or all of the italian judgment – but I’m not going to publish it as I have no way of knowing if it is complete or accurate. It seems to me that if it says what it is said it does it will come into the public domain at some point but I’m not going to add to the mix by publishing a potentially inaccurate translation – and I have no idea at all of the view the Italian court would take of the publication of one of it’s judgments (although I suspect they wouldn’t much mind I’m neither going to research the point whilst on christmas hols nor take a punt on it).

      Lucy

      • How do you know court ordered c-sects are highly unusual and rare? They are done in secret without the public’s knowledge. Without having access to secret court records it is rather difficult to determine the rarity of such orders anything else is merely a guess.

        • John (Dimon), Educated guess I’d say. Having dealt with family proceedings for over a decade I’ve never encountered one (admittedly I’m not a CoP practitioner particularly but have never come across the care proceedings that would follow either). And the law is such that they could not be anything but rare and unusual – the justification must be weighty indeed and even if there are individual cases where it is an order sought and awarded more lightly than it should be that does not amount to it being a regular or commonplace occurrence. So although one cannot put a figure on it, it seems highly unlikely that these cases occur very often.

      • Foster parents are temporary care meaning the child would be taken from them anyway versus the more permanent adoptive parent/s correct? As such I don’t see what the connection to the foster parents would have anything to do with it. Possibly she may have committed the crime of being a single mother in the eyes of the British SS.

        • John, the relevance of the attachment to the foster carers is that regardless of the legal status of the relationship they may well be the figures with whom the child in fact has its closest bond and to whom she looks for safe care giving. There may not be an established relationship with the biological parent in the way that would normally be expected had the baby been in their care, so whilst the child will need to be separated from their main carer to move to an adoptive placement they would not lose an established relationship with a parent (although they would of course lose a chance to have one in the future and all the other things that go with a lifelong connection to a biological family).
          Whatever else social services may be guilty of its not removing children on the basis that their parents are single mothers. If that were the case we would have millions of children in foster care, and a far higher conversion rate from private law proceedings to care proceedings.

          • They allow the foster parents to stay in the child’s life? Also I would be surprised to learn that ECC SS did not take into account marital status as part of their review. When placing children for adoption do they not take into account marital status? Do they allow single people to adopt or do they believe along with Sir Paul Coleridge that single parents are evil?

            Pretending her status as single didn’t at least have some bearing on how they viewed her would be naive.

          • John,
            No I don’t mean that foster carers would necessarily stay in the child’s life if they moved home or to an adoptive foster placement.
            Single people are allowed to adopt. Being a single parent is not a ground for adoption. In some borderline cases the presence of a stable partner with good parenting capacity can make a difference to the safety of a placement but no single parent status is no basis for removing a child. Some parents are better off separating from abusive or incompetent partners whose parenting would be harmful.

  17. Thanks for the response and I agree that no one should jump the gun in regards to the Italian judgement. I am just frustrated that the only info to go on in this case is very partial and agree with Munby that these courts should be more open to allow scrutiny by the general public while keeping the participants anonymous.

  18. I appreciate you may not wish to publish what could be an innaccurate translation of the Italian Court’s ruling in the Caesarean case.
    You have however published the Essex claim that the Italian Courts agree to jurisdiction remaining in the UK .I therefore denounce this version as pure fiction and confidently state that an application has already been made by the Italian authorities for jurisdiction in this case to be given to Italy.
    Incidentally lawyers who do not bother to see their client(as in this case) before going to court should be struck off;

  19. >> lawyers who do not bother to see their client(as in this case) before going to court should be struck off

    I totally agree with that sentiment.

    In this case Alessandra should bring a civil case (pre-published in Italian in Italy) for money damages against the social workers involved based on an assertion that they did not act in good faith. Not that she would necessarily be usefully compensated by the money, but the publicity of naming and shaming the parties involved in the court of public opinion would get things moving along.

  20. Silly Question

    If the child gets sick and needs something like a bone marrow or kidney transplant and they can’t find a donor in the UK do they then contact the incubator’s family. or do they allow the child to die? If the child dies I suppose there would be no reason to inform the incubator? Again a somewhat silly question as to how far this separation thing goes.

  21. […] in the Scottish Parliament during the passage of a Crofting Amendment Bill. Lucy Reed had her Pink Tape Blog quoted in a Court Judgement in 2013. So Blawgs are now getting attention in high places. All the more reason for lawyers to […]

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