Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
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Alun Jenkins (instructed by The Michael Hill Partnership) for the H
Miss Espley (instructed by Fraser Dawbarns) for the child through her Guardian
Hearing dates: 30 & 31 January and 1 February 2008
Crown Copyright ©
Charles J :
i) both parents are capable of providing more than good enough physical care for their daughter S,
ii) both parents love S and she loves both of them,
iii) S has a good attachment to both her parents and her welfare would be promoted by them both participating as fully as possible in her life,
iv) both parents assert and believe that they are seeking to do what is best for S in the circumstances that now prevail,
v) looked at solely from the viewpoints of each of the parents what they each assert can be said to be reasonable, for example they both have reasonable reasons for wishing to live respectively in Germany and England. But this point has to be qualified by reference to the effects that the combination of their stances and actions has had, and is having, on their daughter,
vi) the conflict between the parents is longstanding and deep-rooted. In large measure it flows from their respective characters and histories,
vii) this conflict has led to them both having a deep mistrust of, and a strong antagonism towards, each other in particular in respect of their care of S and their motives and decisions relating to her. The mistrust and antagonism also goes wider than that,
viii) in my 2006 judgment I made a number of criticisms of, and findings relating to, the parents and, save that the disputes and reporting to relevant public authorities relating to S's physical health has happily abated, there has effectively been no constructive movement or effective amelioration of the conflict and problems between the parents,
ix) both parents have from time to time expressed a wish to be constructive but this has not resulted in significant constructive steps and changes being taken and made,
x) both parents have for some time been aware that a significant change will occur when S starts full-time school and depending on the place chosen it will accord with the wishes of one and deeply disappoint the other. Both have had this in mind and rightly regard the decision as to where S will go to school as one that will dictate who cares for her for the majority of the time,
xi) S is a bright five-year-old and she is acutely aware of the deep conflict between her parents and the high level of antagonism that exists between them,
xii) the parents either have little, or have demonstrated little, understanding of the potential for their parenting to cause significant and lifelong emotional harm to S. On occasion each of them has indicated that they recognise this albeit that they largely place the blame on the other for not changing his or her position and, as I have said, they have been unable to change the general themes of their respective stances and conduct so as to make constructive changes to the impact of their parenting on S,
xiii) unless both the parents manage to bring about significant changes in their attitudes and conduct towards each other, and thus in their parenting, in my view there is a high likelihood that a product of their parenting will be significant and lifelong emotional harm to S, and
xiv) that harm would be likely to include depression and an anxiety disorder but could extend beyond that to a personality disorder.
Testing results: Father: The International Personality disorder Examination (IPDE) is a semi-structured clinical interview designed to help standardise diagnosis of personality disorders. There are two versions – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – IV and the International Classification of Diseases – 10. It is advised that practitioners consider both forms of diagnosis as they are not exactly equivalent. There is a screening test that is a self-report questionnaire allowing the practitioner to fairly quickly decide whether it is necessary to administer the full semi-structured interview. The time criteria used for this examination is over the past 5 years – which is considered a conservative measurement for personality disorder (e.g. symptoms have been noted in the past 5 years). The scoring is structured and there is a place for symptoms to be recorded that are reported by 'informant' (e.g. by another person and/or from the records) as well as those reported by the client. Given the controversy around personality disorder diagnoses, it seems prudent to add an additional structured clinical measure to aid in assessment. The father does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of personality disorder. He does show a number of maladaptive personality traits that are commonly associated with Anankastic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Anankastic Personality Disorder is characterised by doubts, perfectionism, conscientiousness, checking and preoccupation with details, stubbornness, caution and rigidity. Individuals with these traits often engage in pedantry. They are likely to insist that others do things exactly the way they do them. They tend to be behaviourally rigid, distant, intellectualised, and detailed. They are often controlling of themselves, others, and situations indirect in their expression of anger although an apparent undercurrent of hostility is often present. They are likely to be inflexible and stubborn in relationships. The Histrionic Personality Disorder is characterised by shallow and labile affect, self-dramatization, exaggerated expression of emotions, suggestibility, egocentricity, self-indulgence, and lack of consideration for others. People with these traits are easily hurt and seek continual excitement, attention and appreciation. Individuals with histrionic personality traits view themselves as gregarious, sociable, friendly and agreeable. They consider themselves to be charming, stimulating, and well-liked. For individuals with Histrionic Personality Disorder, indications of internal distress, weakness, depression, or hostility are denied or suppressed and are not included in their sense of themselves. Individuals with histrionic personality traits tend to have stormy relationships that start out as ideal and end up as disasters. ---------------
The test is valid. However, the father worked very hard to present himself in a positive light. The father's profile is of someone who is affable and sociable on the surface but who likely has some chronic feelings of social discomfort and awkward social relationships. His profile is of someone who tends to appear charming to acquaintances but in longer term and more intimate relationships is likely to be perceived as demanding and somewhat emotionally shallow. It is of someone who does not tolerate boredom well and tends to become impulsive in situations in which he is bored. Of interest is that he reports few symptoms of anxiety though he is clearly anxious and has been so during the life of this Court case. ------
Testing results: Mother: For a description of the IPDE, please refer to paragraph 6. The mother does not qualify for a diagnosis of personality disorder. She has some personality traits that have caused her long standing difficulties in managing stress and her relationships with others. Like The father, she has some of the traits associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder, including a tendency towards moodiness, shallow emotions, egocentricity and self-dramatisation. This is combined with some traits associated with paranoid personality disorder including a deep distrust of others, a rigid belief system and a pervasive fear that others mean to do her harm. It is likely that these traits have become more pronounced since the demise of her relationship with the father.
The Hare Psychotherapy Checklist is designed to measure psychopathy in a forensic population. The test is scored by the clinician based on a semi-structured interview data and collateral (file and written reports) information. A sore of over 30 on this measure is indicative of a diagnosis of psychopathy. The test is made up of two factors. Factor one measures the personality traits associated with a diagnosis of psychopathy. Factor two measures behavioural traits associated with the diagnosis and also closely associated with a diagnosis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Research has demonstrated that whilst the majority of a prison population will qualify for a diagnosis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder, only a minority will qualify for a diagnosis of Psychopathy. Research has also demonstrated that high levels of psychopathy are associated with (and in some populations predictive of) violent crimes and behaviour, poor response to treatment and high levels of recidivism in prison populations. The body of research has been conducted in Canada, the United States and in the United Kingdom. There was no evidence of psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder.
For a description of the HCR-20, please refer to paragraph 6.4. For the purposes of this test, I rate the risk to S of experiencing violence at the hands of the mother as low to moderate.
For a description of the Milton Clinical Multiaxial Inventory – III, please refer to paragraph 6.5. The test was valid. The mother' profile is of someone who seeks excessive attention and praise in order to gain the nurturance and reassurance she needs from others. When this is not present, she feels inadequate and worried about her ability to cope. The testing reflects the profile of someone who has extreme paranoid symptoms at present – believing that others are actively plotting to cause her harm and/or make her life difficult. She is experiencing symptoms of anxiety though she does not wish to admit to these readily.
Section 37 Children Act
A decision now
The religious difference between the parents
"--- it does not follow that, because one parent's way of life is more acceptable to most of us, it is contrary to the welfare of the children that they should adopt the way of life of the other parent that is acceptable only to a minority, and a tiny minority at that. It seems to me that when one has, as in this case such a conflict, all that the court can do is to look at the detail of the whole of the circumstances of the parents and determine where lies the true interest of the children. "
And as Sheldon J says in Harrison at page 16 of the transcript:
" There have been many occasions upon which the courts have had to consider the problems that can arise in the family environment when one parent, but not the other, has become a Jehovah's Witness - problems which may be particularly difficult to resolve when they relate to the upbringing of children. Some aspects of that particular faith, indeed, may well be thought by many to create an environment which is not the best and happiest for a child's upbringing, particularly if it leads to his or her isolation from other children and from his or her wider family. Clearly, moreover, these may be matters of great importance when considering the welfare of any particular child and the orders to be made for custody and access. But there are many other matters which also have to be taken into account and it would be quite wrong for anyone to assume, in a dispute between two parents of whom one is and the other is not a Jehovah's Witness, that the custody and care and control of their child will necessarily, or even more often than not, be given to the latter. Each case must depend on its own particular circumstances; I endorse my Lord's hope that the decision of the Court of Appeal in Re T, given on 10 Dec 1975, will be reported for its very valuable summary of how these competing factors should be considered and weighed. "
" These are factors that must be considered, but I think it is essential in a case of this sort to appreciate that the mother's teaching, once it is accepted as reasonable, is teaching that has got to be considered against the whole background of the case and not as in itself so full of danger from the children that it alone could justify making an order which otherwise the court would not make. "
" The mother is prohibited from changing S's religion (sic) beliefs and should use her best endeavours to respect S's Roman Catholic faith until further order; the matter to be further considered at the hearing on 30 January 2008 "
Some factual issues and findings
The father told me that what he sees as the "greatest risk" to his daughter is the "psychological manipulations" that the mother has been "subjecting her to". He reports that S has repeatedly told him that she wants to live in England that he would like S to live with him during the school year. He told me that that S was saying worrying things to him particularly in the past six months but sometimes as long as two years ago. He told me that the things he was most concerned about that S said to him were:
"When she was three, she said that when she is a little bit older she would be going to paradise"
"That she and Mummy can go to paradise. Daddy is not allowed"
"When she was four and still asked for assistance with toileting, she began to tell me that her mother said I could not touch are on her bum, and front bottom, and her chest"
"S told me I said my parents were dead and that I used to hit my mother. She told me that the mother left me because she was scared of me that I had it her"
"S told me that we can all live together if I want to come back to the mother"
"S told me I could easily move to Germany and that there is a job for me at the mother's company"
She told me that "the father is putting emotional pressure on S, telling her think she shouldn't and this could damage my relationship with S. I'm fed up with being threatened all the time". She told me she wanted to provide a stable home for S.
The mother was suspicious of the motives of all who have been involved in this case. She told me that the father had lied repeatedly throughout their relationship. She did not believe the letter from social services in Glasgow and believed what she had been told by the father's parents. She did not see them as a danger and it was clear that she had disobeyed the court order as a result. She wanted further proof but it was unclear what proof.
The promotion of contact.
The mother's conduct since 2006
The lack of information from the mother
i) S does not mention many friends in Germany and the mother was not able to identify many in her evidence either from school or from other sources including the children of Jehovah's Witnesses who the mother knows,
ii) the mother did not identify many people as her friends and answered the following question put as part of one as Dr Bisbey's tests as follows: "Question: "I need" Answer: "friends", and
iii) S appears to the Guardian to keep her lives in the two countries separate and talks little of her life in Germany but did tell the Guardian that she finds Kingdom Hall boring and that she likes being in England best and has lots of friends.