Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
- and –
B (by her Guardian)
Andrew Duncan (instructed by Albin & Co) for the respondent (mother)
Seona Myerscough of Gardner Leader LLP for the respondent (child)
Hearing dates: 21 and 27 April 2020
The hearing was conducted by Zoom
Crown Copyright ©
This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court. In any report this judgment should be referred to as Re B (a child).
Mr Justice Mostyn:
"The medical evidence, in my opinion, does not help to ascertain if the alleged sexual touching or any form of child sexual abuse to the genito-anal area has taken place. Despite the good quality of the recording, I cannot identify in the DVD of the genital examination two of the three lacerations described by Dr B. The third laceration is in my opinion likely to be the result if the examination technique, possibly facilitated by the previously noted nappy rash."
"Despite the lack of medical evidence, the fact remains that B disclosed on the 28/08/18 to her mother and subsequently in the presence of an intermediary and police officer during a pre-interview assessment (10/9/18) when talking to teddy, that "daddy hurts her bumby,... he puts his fingers down her bumby, ... She indicated on a picture that she calls the genital area noony and the anal area bumby, and specified when it happened: "Grandma is in the toilet when daddy puts his fingers in my bumby." When asked directly where dad puts his finger, she replied: "...in the noony, in the little hole, ... lots of times." However, in the archiving (sic, semble achieving) best evidence (ABE) interview, B would not talk, was evasive, and repeatedly stated that she could not remember and finally said, "I can't remember what my dad did, like when he hurts me."
From my paediatric experience, I can think of several reasons why B didn't want to talk about her father during the video-interview. The strange new setting might have contributed, she might have felt that she had said it all already, felt pressured, had a conflict of interest and loyalty, realising that she had got her father into trouble, but also, she may have been uncomfortable because what she had previously said was not true. I also wonder if the child in the last 19 months expanded further on what she previously said. Children who have experienced maltreatment are often able to talk about what happened once they are in a secure setting and don't have further contact with their abuser."
"The mother has reviewed how she sees the evidence and has been taken through the evidence with her counsel. The mother accepts that the evidential canvass as it exists now, is different to the canvass that existed in June 2019.
The mother respectfully stresses that her position has always been to ensure that a fair and safe determination is made as to B's allegations. Whilst the mother has never disbelieved her daughter, the mother is now able to see that the evidence in this case when assessed holistically, is not likely to meet the standard of proof required for findings to be made.
In those circumstances the mother no longer seeks to pursue these findings."