60 Canal Street
B e f o r e :
| N (A local authority)
|- and -
|- and -
|- and -
(by her guardian KS)
Helen Sampson (Counsel) (instructed by Charlotte Rogers (Solicitor) of Northants Family Law Group) for the 1st Repondent Mother
Margaret Styles (Counsel) (instructed by Ben Harling (Solicitor) of Borneo Martell Turner Coulston LLP) for the 2nd Respondent Father
David Sharp (Counsel) (instructed by Brona Saigal (solicitor) of PS Law LLP) for the Child's Guardian
Hearing dates: 23-27 March 2020
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Mostyn:
"Nevertheless, it is quite clear that the test for severing the relationship between parent and child is very strict: only in exceptional circumstances and where motivated by overriding requirements pertaining to the child's welfare, in short, where nothing else will do." (her emphasis)
i) Following his mother's death, the father initially went to stay with his maternal grandmother. That placement did not last and soon the father went to stay with his maternal aunt and her husband.
ii) He stayed with them for about 18 months, but the relationship broke down completely and he moved to X Town to live with his father L and his wife J. That placement also lasted about 18 months but was riven by conflict and arguments. Following an altercation when the police were called the father went to live with his paternal grandmother JB.
iii) That relationship in turn broke down and JB peremptorily ordered the father out of her house. He faced sleeping on the streets.
iv) His relationship with his stepbrother T completely broke down following a row about a laptop which led to T accusing the father of sexually molesting him. That allegation was not pursued.
v) Notwithstanding that he advanced his sister G as a member of a support network he could rely on, it is clear that he has a deeply conflicted relationship with her also. She had a baby five months ago. The father has never met the baby. A few days ago, G turned down a request by the father for a loan of money. The father's response, and I am satisfied that it was a vindictive response, was to report G to social services for overfeeding her daughter.
"On the 26th November 2019, Mother arrived for Father's contact around 40 minutes earlier; mother requested that she leave EK at the centre at that time. It was reported that EK was unkempt and had a foul smell to her and had extremely poor deterioration of her skin. Her eczema was so severe that when her clothes were removed her skin was falling on the floor, areas were bleeding whereby blood was dripping on the floor. Photos of EK's presentation are exhibited to this statement under "NQ-EX1".
i) LS, independent social worker;
ii) NQ, allocated local authority social worker;
iii) the mother;
iv) the father (assisted by an intermediary); and
v) the Guardian, KS.
I allowed each to give evidence-in-chief and each was fully and rigorously cross-examined.