ON APPEAL FROM PRINCIPAL REGISTRY OF THE FAMILY DIVISION
HIS HONOUR JUDGE KARSTEN
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE MUNBY
MR JUSTICE HEDLEY
|In the matter of R (Children)|
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Mr Harrison and Ms Hudson (instructed by London Borough of Brent) appeared on behalf of the Respondent.
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Mr Justice Hedley:
"In relation to the issue of the sexual abuse of the children, three main sources of evidence are relied upon in respect of the allegation of sexual abuse. They are, first, what the mother has said; second, what R has said; and, thirdly, R's behaviour while in foster care."
And it was to those matters that the learned judge addressed his mind.
"Apart from the content and conduct of the ABE interview itself (a matter with which I will deal shortly) there are a number of factors which require very considerable caution before making the finding against the father on the basis of the ABE interview in the circumstances of this case."
"This was conducted without adequate preparation and, as DC Gill accepted, contrary to the guidelines. The interview did breach the ABE guidelines in several other respects, particularly when asking some closed questions and some leading questions at different points."
"All this has made me extremely cautious in deciding what weight to give to what R says in the ABE interview. When read in typescript it is not easy to make very clear sense of it. Ms Hudson [who was counsel for the guardian] in particular was anxious that I should view the DVD of the interview itself to observe the child's demeanour and gestures and the manner in which she gave her account. I think Ms Hudson was right about that. Yesterday I spent two hours watching, rewinding and reviewing the ABE interview. Viewing the DVD as I did had a powerful effect. R is a delightful girl. I found her to be completely relaxed and natural, answering questions without hesitation, showing no signs of having been coached, giving an essentially consistent account but not afraid to correct her interviewer on particular points of fact."
Following that, the judge went on to make the findings of sexual abuse which we have indicated.
"The Court of Appeal will allow an appeal where the decision of the lower court was (a) wrong; or (b) unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings of the lower court."
"[her] complete emotional dependence on the father. She needed him, she wanted him and she was prepared to put up with almost anything in order to keep him."
Lord Justice Munby:
Lord Justice Mummery:
Order: Appeal dismissed