Sitting at Tunbridge Wells
42-46 London Road
B e f o r e :
| Medway Council
|- and -
(3) Camilla Doolin Children's Guardian
Ms Maureen Obi-Ezekpazu appeared for EL
Miss Alev Giz appeared for the child
Mrs Pauline Lloyd appeared for the children's guardian.
Miss Fareha Choudhury appeared for the children's guardian on the 3rd and 14th November 2014 on a pro bono basis
Hearing dates: 3rd March 2015
Crown Copyright ©
H H J Hammerton:
" The court is invited to make:
(a) A declaration that, pursuant to relevant provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998, between 21st May 2014 and 3rd March 2015 there had been numerous violations of the Article 8 rights of the Respondent father.
(b) A declaration that the Respondent father suffered harm flowing from the duty of care that the local authority has towards him and in consequence of the actions of the local authority.
(c) A clear and unequivocal requirement that the local authority provide the appropriate level of services to ameliorate the harm caused by their involvement, namely a clear care plan on discharge.
(d) An order for costs, both past and contingent.
(e) Discharge of all injunctive orders made against him.
(f) Damages to be quantified for breach of the Respondent father's Article 3 and Article 6 rights.
(g) An injunction, pursuant to section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998, preventing the local authority from separating him from JC in breach of his Article 8 rights, by use of section 20 of the Children Act 1989 or emergency protection order."
"(1) The father be forbidden from disclosing any documents or evidence from this case and case ME12C00790 to any third party without the permission of the court, save to a qualified legal advisor with the purpose of obtaining legal advice.
(2) The father be forbidden from disclosing any information to any third party which might lead to JC's identification to the public, or any section of the public, as a child involved in these proceedings.
(3) The father be forbidden from allowing, encouraging or otherwise facilitating the recording of JC's purported views about the professionals in the case, whether such recording be visual or sound or written or otherwise, and whether by way of interview with JC or otherwise, for the purposes of dissemination to the media or onto the internet or to any third party, and he shall be forbidden from disclosing any such recording to any third party, including media organisations, and from posting the same onto the internet. For the avoidance of doubt, such prohibition shall apply to any recording made by JC himself."
"The child was subject to a care order, but has now returned to his father's care and is doing exceptionally well. The local authority now seek to discharge the care order."
"Upon the court indicating to all parties that these proceedings are confidential and that they must not disclose the evidence in the case, including the written evidence, nor discuss the evidence or submissions, written or oral, in this case with any third party without the express permission of the court."
"(1) To remit to another county court judge or to transfer to the Family Division of the High Court.
(2) To order the court to consider the section 31 threshold, which is now different from that at the time of the making of the care order on 26th February 2013."
"The father will provide the social worker, Miss Palles, with prior notice, of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the child minders he intends to use to care for JC during any period that he intends to spend in Brussels or abroad pending the adjourned hearing."
'17. The test upon an application for discharge is clearly set out by this court as long ago as 1995 in Re S (Discharge of Care Order  2 FLR 639 at 643. As Waite LJ put it:
"Section 39 of the Act allows the court to discharge a care order on the application of (inter alios) a parent. Here the jurisdiction is discretionary from the outset (there being no obligation on the parent to satisfy the court that the threshold requirements no longer apply). The issue has to be determined by the court in accordance with s1 of the Act, which (by s1(1)) makes the child's welfare the court's paramount consideration …"
I need not read the remainder.
18. I entirely agree that the applicant for such an order must make out his case. It does not follow from that that the test is simply a matter of listing potential benefits. Welfare is a more complicated and rounded consideration than that. I am quite satisfied that the judge is entitled to take into account the continuing effect, or in this case lack of effect, of the care order.
19. The judge found on ample evidence that this was a care order to which the local authority simply could not give proper effect. It is true of course that the fact that a child who is the subject of a care order proves recalcitrant, obstructive and uncooperative is in no sense a justification for the local authority washing its hands of him. Young people who are difficult, obstructive or recalcitrant are often precisely the young people for whom a care order is a necessary, if unwelcome, protection. They may be children in considerable need. J is certainly in some need, but that does not mean that the judge is not entitled to take account in his decision of what is involved in preserving a care order. This one set up conflict.'
Merits of the discharge of the care order.
"Taking all of the above into account, I would struggle at present, despite my concerns, to support JC's removal into foster care. In any event, the local authority are no longer pursuing this care plan and also seek to discharge the care order, acknowledging as I do that it remaining in place will have little impact on JC's welfare and, indeed, further may act to his detriment, as the local authority would have to continue to share parental responsibility with the father, which has proved impossible to do to date, given the father's overtly hostile attitudes towards the local authority and the professionals endeavouring to monitor JC's welfare."
Greater provision of services
"It was disappointing that the father and JC would not agree to engage in a psychological assessment, as this would have helped both myself and, in my view, the court greatly in understanding the emotional impact, both positive and negative, of being placed in foster care and the relationship that JC holds with his father. I remain concerned that JC is strongly influenced by his father's views and that it would prove extremely precarious for JC to express any concerns to professionals about his care whilst living with his father."
Application for costs