IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT
(MR JUSTICE SUMNER)
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE BODEY
|I N T H E M A T T E R O F|
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MISS T VILLAROSA (instructed by Hackney Directorate of Law & Probity, London, E8 1EA) Appeared on behalf of the Respondent
MISS A WARE observed on behalf of CAFCASS
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"The local authority is directed to file and serve a report from Dr Lindsey by 4 pm on Monday 7 April."
"The local authority will, if practical, file and serve a report from Dr Lindsey by 7 April."
That resulted in a fax of 4 April from Hackney Legal Department to Dr Lindsey in which she was informed of the order. The writer then said:
"We would be grateful if you would provide a report by that date together with your CV detailing your professional qualifications and experience.
Although not part of the order of Mr Justice Charles, the legal representative for the parents have suggested the following points they would wish you to address in your report."
"I am Caroline Rachel Lindsey, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist of the Child and Family Department of the Tavistock Clinic.
I enclose a copy of a brief Curriculum Vitae for the attention of the court."
The next paragraph explains that, as well as the fax from Hackney to which I have referred, she had had a conversation with Miss Villarosa. That paragraph ends with this sentence.
"Ms Villarosa explained on the telephone, that [Mr Justice Charles] had stressed that the report was to be produced only if practicable and also with due regard to issues of confidentiality."
She continued thus:
"Within the limits of confidentiality of my therapeutic relationship with [B], I am reporting on the allegations of sexual abuse by the maternal grandfather as disclosed to me.
When I saw [B], following referral in November 2002, she described her experiences of sexual abuse by her maternal grandfather in detail, at the first and subsequent sessions."
The attached curriculum vitae readily illustrates Dr Lindsey's distinction. For instance, between 1997 and 2001 she was Chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Furthermore, she is currently Chair of the External Working Group for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Psychological Well Being Module of the Children's National Service Framework for the Department of Health. It is also relevant to note that she has, since 1977, been a Group Analyst, qualified by the Institute of Group Analysis.
"Upon it being recorded that the Local Authority have agreed:
(i) That the Local Authority will issue an application for an Interim Care Order forthwith."
Then follows the order of the court.
"Dr Lindsey (in a statement) refused to disclose anything said to her during the therapy sessions and did not give evidence before the judge."
"Neither the therapist nor the source of the allegations was prepared to give any detailed evidence to the court (or produce notes of what is said to have been said during the sessions) to substantiate the allegations."
However, during the course of oral submissions, it emerged that those assertions rested only on inferences drawn from Dr Lindsey's statement of 6 April. There were no communications between the local authority and Dr Lindsey after 6 April. They made no inquiries of her as to what extent, if any, she was prepared to go in further assisting the court. Mr McFarlane and his team equally have made no inquiry of Dr Lindsey.
"She went to Dr Lindsey in full confidence and had now lost trust in her."
"Because of the stance taken by Dr Lindsey, and because the local authority accepted that stance and did not seek to rely at the hearing upon any detail of allegations directly from Dr Lindsey, the parents had no opportunity to investigate, challenge or examine this key evidence.
The resultant process caused the parents to be at a substantial disadvantage vis-a-vis the local authority, who were able to rely upon the unauthenticated minute of Dr Lindsey's summary of [B's] allegations and, in turn, rely upon Dr Lindsey's assertion of professional confidentiality within the court proceedings."
"37. On the other side is that Dr Lindsey is, as Mr McFarlane accepts, an experienced child psychiatrist. She is therefore used to hearing children (mainly), but no doubt adults as well, explaining matters in relation to abuse that they say they have suffered. The courts are used to them giving evidence from time to time about whether accounts given, in particular by children of course, are or are not ones upon which they would place weight. The court of course is not bound by that, but the court is entitled, unusually in this area, to place weight upon a professional's view, nearly always of a young person giving evidence of abuse.
38. I mention those matters because in my judgment it adds weight to the allegations made by [B]. It means that unless Dr Lindsey had been satisfied that she ought to break confidence she would not have done so, and that the matters which would have influenced her would have been the creditworthiness of the account she heard, and her assessment of the potential risk once she knew that there were other young girls within the household. When it comes to the question of whether I can or cannot give credence to that evidence, I place weight upon those factors."
That seems to me an entirely legitimate assessment of the value of Dr Lindsey's reports.
"He is unable to walk without assistance, he had two heart attacks within the course of a week, and he is plainly physically disabled."
"The maternal grandfather is now 81 years old . . . He has just been in hospital over the last two weeks going through an angiogram and he is very weak and very frail."
"I am satisfied at the end of the day that the local authority have satisfied me that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the six children have suffered, or are likely to suffer, significant harm."
So far so good, but he then continued:
"In the ordinary way I would not then venture at all into the way in which the local authority would be likely to exercise the powers that that gives them on the basis of my finding, but I am satisfied that in this case, if that is necessary, that is relevant because although they have gone a long way overnight, recognising in the same way as I have the unusual sensitivities in these matters, care has still to be taken."
He then recites what the local authority proposed to do with evident approval.