ON APPEAL FROM THE LEEDS DISTRICT REGISTRY
FROM HIS HONOUR JUDGE HEATON QC
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE MCFARLANE
| A (a child)
|A Local Authority
WordWave International Limited
A Merrill Communications Company
165 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2DY
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Ms Sarah Singleton QC, Mr Guy Swiffen, Ms Clare Garnham (instructed by A Local Authority, Godloves Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Respondent Local Authority.
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Thorpe:
"I give leave on the sole ground […] that even on the judge's careful and unchallengeable findings of primary fact, and on his assessment of the truthfulness of Ms M, it is arguable that the case for immediate removal of the child (albeit from a family member not from a parent) on an interim application was not made out (Re L-A)."
"As to the law, I propose to apply exactly the test in Re LA. I see no reason to depart from that test in law."
"Against that background, how is the Local Authority to identify the risk? Is it a coherent child protection plan for the Local Authority to wait anxiously on the sidelines in the hope that either there is no risk, or that if there is such a risk to hope that the Local Authority gets wind of it before there is unhappy development? In my judgment not."
"I turn now to the balance of the issues raised by the Local Authority with support of the Guardian."
He identified them as: 1) Ms M's understanding of the risks posed to her in the context of domestic violence; 2) her use of recreational drugs and, 3) her ability to be open and honest with and co-operate with professionals charged with the welfare of the child. It was the third of those factors which obviously caused the judge the greatest concern for he went on to say in the following paragraph:
"I am afraid that I found her to be an unreliable and unconvincing witness."
"The aunt is still failing to co-operate with the court and those charged with welfare of the child."
That led him paragraph 169 to address what he describe as a key issue. He put it thus:
"Are there grounds to be concerned that Miss Hugh does not understand risks that opposed to her, and thus the child in certain situations? If there are such concerns are they such as to justify removal of the child?"
"The aunt misled the local authority through its core assessment thereafter. The aunt has the capacity to be hold information. In my judgment, she continues to hold back important information."
Lord Justice McFarlane:
LORD JUSTICE THORPE: I would most firmly associate myself with My Lord's observations and I hope that the removal that follows from the dismissal of the appeal will be handled in a sensitive way and that real efforts will be made to offer generous contact in the period which is regrettably extended because we are looking at something like six months before there will be another profound investigation. No doubt you can discuss that amongst yourselves.
MS BRADLEY: My Lord, yes. I know that discussions have already taken place, both below during the days of that hearing and contact arrangements which I hope are in place which have been changed to reflect their submissions are also to be in place. I understand that the listing was in order to secure the availability of Moylan J given the nature of the issues and to accommodate the criminal trial to take place. It is a regrettable delay. I hope it will come before April. There is application for costs.
Order: Appeal dismissed