#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”

#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

Baby P effect takes children in care numbers to 25-year high, says NAO!

Baby P effect takes children in care numbers to 25-year high, says NAO ~  and agencies, The Guardian, Thursday 27 November.

Local authorities in England were looking after 68,110 children in March 2013 – a 14% increase since 2008
Six year old boy stands in corridor in pyjamas with teddy bear
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, says most children are taken into care because of abuse and neglect – but too many are not getting the right placements the first time. Photograph: Don Smith /Alamy.

Local authorities in England were looking after 68,110 children in March 2013 – a 14% increase since 2008, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

The rapid rise in children in care followed coverage of Baby P’s death in 2007, the report noted. Almost every local authority said they were expecting or experiencing an increase in referrals linked to child sexual exploitation after high-profile cases in Rotherham and other towns, auditors said.

The NAO said that while demand for care continues to rise and varies “significantly” across the country, the Department for Education has not shown it is meeting its targets for improving care for foster children and those in residential homes.

There had also been “no improvement” in the last four years in getting children into the right placement first time, the report said.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Most children are taken into care because of abuse and neglect. But too many of them are not getting the right placements the first time.

“If their complex and challenging learning and development needs are not correctly assessed and tackled, the result is likely to be significant long-term detriment to the children themselves as well as cost to society. No progress has been made in the last four years.”

Peter Connelly, who was known as Baby P in court, died in north London, on 3 August 2007 at the hands of his mother, Tracey Connelly, her partner, Steven Barker, and their lodger, Jason Owen.

He had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over the final eight months of his life.

According to the auditors, the number of children in care is now the highest since records are available from 1990.

It found that nearly two thirds (62%) of children in care were there because they had suffered abuse or neglect. Three quarters (75%) of those in care were fostered.

In total, £2.5bn was spent supporting children in foster and residential care in 2012/13 – a 3% increase in real terms since 2010/11. The report found 34% of children in care had more than one placement in 2012/13 – the same proportion as 2009.

The government also failed to place children within 20 miles of their home in 14% of foster cases and 34% of those in residential care, the report claimed. Seventy nine residential homes were rated as inadequate by Ofsted in 2012/13, according to the report.

Educational achievements of children in care compare badly to the rest of the population, the report found. Some 15% of children in care achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C including mathematics and English in 2012/13, compared with 58% of children not in care.

Meanwhile, 34% of 19-year-olds who were in care aged 16 were not in employment, education or training at the end of 2013 – compared with 15.5% of 18-year-olds, the watchdog added.

Edward Timpson, the children and families minister, said the report was fundamentally flawed. He said: “This report ignores the very real progress that has been made in transforming the life chances of children in care.

“It is a fact that since 2010, children in care are doing better at school and absences from school have decreased. Foster children can also now stay at home until the age of 21, and this year a record number of children found places in stable, loving homes through adoption,” he said.

more on this story

| Forced Adoption in the UK: Child Protection or ‘Punishment Without a Crime’?

Forced Adoption in the UK: Child Protection or ‘Punishment Without a Crime’? ~ , International Business Times.

When a couple brought their newborn son to a hospital with a fractured arm, Coventry social services were called in on suspicion that the child might have been injured by his parents.

The mother was arrested, handcuffed and detained for nine hours, fearing her child might be taken away. Although not charged with any offence, the couple remain on police bail, preventing them leaving the country.

The child was taken by his Irish grandmother to Ireland, where is he supported by a family. Social services are still attempting to get an order through the courts for the grandmother to return to England.

This is just one case study of “forced adoption” – a term used by critics of the practice of removing children permanently from their parents and their subsequent adoption.

Aside from Croatia, Britain is the only EU member state that practices forced adoption and for some, it is a secretive system that allows social workers to separate children from loving families without proper justification and with little concern for their interests.

But for others, adoption is only carried out when it is in the child’s best interests to do so – and criticism of the social care system is merely a consequence of the incomprehensibly difficult task of removing children from their parents.

There are 92,000 “looked after” children in the UK – meaning cared for by the state – according to NSPCC. More than half of these children in England and Wales became looked after because of abuse or neglect between 2012 and 2013 but critics say they have had their sons and daughters taken away for less.

Ian Josephs, who runs the Forced Adoption website, has helped hundreds of families in this situation.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, he explained lots of parents feel they are punished without having committed a crime.

“No baby or child should be removed from parents and put into care unless one of the parents has committed, or at least been charged with a crime against children,” he said.

But the argument for forcible adoptions is that if left too late, the child may be at risk or serious harm or even suffer death.

However, another problem lies in determining if and proving that, particularly in cases of emotional abuse, there is sufficient evidence to take the child away.

Critics state there are a number of procedural issues surrounding forced adoption. Some argue that due to increased funding for social services units – that effectively place a greater number of children with adopted families – there are financial incentives for local authorities to secure adoptions.

Moreover, some argue there is a demonisation of parent’s embroiled in care proceedings. More than 90% of families where children are forcibly adopted live below the poverty line – despite counterarguments that child abuse and neglect are not class issues.

Around 45% of the parents have mental health problems, which often go undiagnosed, unassessed or untreated, before proceedings take place.

Once a child is placed for adoption, neither the parents nor child have any recourse open to them to reverse the process – even when evidence comes to light that shows that the reasons for the adoption were flawed.

Currently, families subjected to forced adoption may also be prohibited by court order from publicly discussing their case and attempting to contact their children.

“Most parents who contact me say they have done nothing wrong and if they speak the truth, they shouldn’t be punished by the state by having their children confiscated – nor should they receive gagging orders to stop them complaining publicly and breaching their freedom of speech,” said Josephs.

Speaking at a conference for the charity Children Screaming to be Heard, Josephs stated that when children are taken into care, gagging orders isolate children from family and friends.

“Even if parents have done committed a crime, the children haven’t – we shouldn’t treat them like them have,” he added.

Introduced in April, the Children and Families Act 2014 seeks to reshape the adoption system – in particular, to get children placed with adoptive families more quickly.

But while adopting is necessary for children in danger, there are a number of solutions that don’t punish the families of children who are not.

Such solutions include pre-proceedings intensive support, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and specialist family support services.

Rather than bonuses for placing children in care, they could be used to support families remaining together.


child shadow

Critics say forced adoption without criminal activity is “punishment without a crime” Getty


| UK Access to Justice: Draft Transparency and Accountability Bill 2014 launched!

The Draft Transparency and Accountability Bill 2014 has been launched today. ~ John Hemming MP.

The objective of the bill, which is to have its second reading on 17th October 2014, is to make a number of improvements to public services and the courts.  The short title is as follows:

“A Bill to make provisions to improve the transparency and accountability of the public, including the courts, and private sectors when relating to ensuring that the numbers of miscarriages of justice are reduced and public services are improved.”

The bill is available on MP John Hemming’s website here:




| Millionaire helping pregnant women flee UK to avoid babies taken into care!

Millionaire helping pregnant women flee UK to avoid babies taken into care ~ Grace MacaskillGeorge Woodfield, Mirror.

Ian Josephs has spent over £30,000 helping 200 to avoid having their newborns taken away by social services.

Help: Ian Joseph

A multi-millionaire is helping pregnant women whose babies are deemed at risk to flee the UK.

Ian Josephs has spent over £30,000 helping 200 to avoid having their newborns taken away by social services.

He pays for their fares to a new life and offers them free legal advice, even paying for lawyers in some cases.

Around 50 have fled to Ireland on his money while another 150 went to France, Spain and Italy.

Forced adoption opponent Mr Josephs, who runs a language business and has a law degree, has defended his decision to fund their escape, despite many already having children in care.

He said: “Social services have moved away from giving families support and are now too quick to take children away.

“I know what I do is controversial. People ask how I know the people I’ve helped don’t go on to do something wicked, but my reply is that even killers are entitled to lawyers.

“These woman are entitled to a fair chance to keep their children if they have not been convicted of any crime of cruelty and aren’t on drink or drugs.”


Is it right to help pregnant mums flee UK to avoid babies taken into care?


The dad of seven set up a website and receives “around a thousand” calls a year from mothers.

Britain is the only EU country allowing forced adoption. Last year, 1,860 children were adopted without parental consent.

Mr Josephs, 82, features in an ITV ­documentary on Tuesday. He is shown advising a woman called Mary with previous mental health issues who has two children in care and is expecting another.

Mary, who now raises her child in France, said: “The social services here are helpful and supportive, the opposite of the UK.”

Mr Josephs says he ploughs through piles of documents before agreeing to help.

He said: “Adoption shouldn’t go ahead if a mother is begging to get her child back. They should be given a fair chance.

“Social services used to only take children away if a parent was convicted of cruelty. Now social workers are feared and hated.

But one GP who works with social ­services said: “People think they are right to help a mother but they do not have all the background to a case.

The documentary, which shows secret filming of social workers and police taking a child away, also features retired Court of Protection Judge, Sir Mark Hedley who claims there is “increased pressure” on social workers to intervene because of cases like Baby P.

    * Exposure: Don’t Take My Child is on ITV on Tuesday at 10.40pm


Senior judge says ‘highly defensive’ atmosphere means social workers under increased pressure to intervene in families ~ ITV plc 2014.

– last updated Sun 13 Jul 2014

Justice Sir Mark Hedley pictured speaking to ITV’s Exposure. Credit: ITV

A senior judge has said there is a “highly defensive atmosphere” in social services about “future disasters” meaning that social workers are under increased pressure to intervene into the lives of families.

The comments from Justice Sir Mark Hedley come as the chief executive of campaign group British Association of Social Workers said its members were working in a ‘climate of fear’ and often had to ‘play it safe’.

The concerns are investigated in a new documentary, to be aired on ITV at 10.35pm on Tuesday 15th July, called Exposure: Don’t take my Child.

The programme examines how and why social workers are increasingly prepared to remove children from their birth parents through forced adoption.

There is a highly defensive atmosphere around both in social services and in the state generally about future disasters like that happening again.

That has meant I think that there is increased regulation, there is an increased pressure on social workers to intervene where they might not have done so in the past.


The show features the distressing video showing the forced removal of a father’s young baby.

The father had already lost his older children to adoption because he and his wife couldn’t cope without support.

The decision to take this child was made by the courts before he was even born.

The number of court orders required to place a child into the adoption process has increased by 95 per cent in the last three years, while new laws introduced this year mean it is likely there will be more cases.

But most often, the stories remain shrouded in the secrecy of family courts where journalists are barred from reporting.

Exposure focuses on the parents who claim to have been unfairly dealt with by the system, alongside insight from leading social workers and legal workers.

It is a climate of fear, a climate where people cover their backs, a climate where people want to try and do their best by families but also know that they’ve got to… play this game safe, safe for them as an organisation, safe for them as a worker – not just safe for the child.


It looks at whether child protection following the death of Baby P in 2007 is increasingly geared towards the permanent removal of children as opposed to supporting families to stay together. It also hears concerns that the new legislation will put social workers under pressure to act quickly.

The time limits now imposed for formulating a care plan have raised concerns that an adoption order is likely to be made in shorter time – potentially making it more difficult for birth parents to get their children back.

Support for families

Secretly filmed footage by the father of one child shows his newborn baby being forcibly removed from the arms of his mother by social workers and police just hours after its birth.

The decision was made before the baby was even born and the father describes how powerless he felt when the authorities came to take the child away.

They’re just saying they’ve got an order, they’ve got to follow it. They’ve got to follow their orders.

You feel there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

You feel powerless, useless, you know worthless. And then they started pulling my wife’s arms.

And that was it. As soon as they got the baby, they were out of the flat. Goodbye, leave you to it. All I could do was hold my wife.


Barrister Martha Cover has specialised in child law for 25 years, and believes there have been incidences where the law on secrecy has been taken too far.

The purpose of the legislation that protects the confidentiality of children’s proceedings and the identity of children’s and their families, is to protect them but by a side wind it has had the effect of also protecting poor local authority practice, poor social work, and inadequate experts, poor expert reporting to the courts.


For parents, it can be extremely difficult to get their child back from care once they are approved for potential adoption.

One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, endured a 12-month fight for their return.

Her children are still under a year-long supervision order and she says she fears that social services could try to take her children away again.

I am frightened in case I am judged, I am judged on the way they look.

If there is a mark for when they got scratched, I was worried in case they thought that I had done the scratch.

I write everything down, any accidents that happen, I write it all down.I take pictures. They are so quick to use anything against me. So quick.


Such long battles to get children back are less likely to happen with the new Children and Family Act now in force.

The Act, championed by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who was adopted himself, gained Royal Assent in April this year and sets a target of just 26 weeks from when a child is taken from parents and a care plan is approved.

The Department for Education says decisions to remove children from their families rest with the courts and should only happen when they are sure children are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.

But Bridget Robb, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, believes the Government is now erring on the side of taking children away from their parents.

The rhetoric of this Government is much harsher than previous Governments, in terms of supporting adoption in contrast to the support given to birth families.

And that is new, it is harsher.

It fits very well with the language about welfare, and language about, call it almost an underclass of people, who are not fit to look after their children.


Conservative parliamentary candidate Lucy Allan reveals how she found herself desperately trying to clear her reputation as a fit mother after suffering a bout of depression.

She had to act quickly and funded a legal battle to force social services to concede her son was not at any risk after her GP called in social workers.

Lucy Allen speaking to ITV Exposure. Credit: ITV

I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I know what happens next.’ Because you do not leave a child in a family in those circumstances. You just do not.

They had ticked a box on their file, saying that this child was at risk of significant harm from his mother, and that is a permanent record and has to be disclosed, should I seek a CRB check for any work with children in the future.

It was a big legal battle, we had solicitors, we had a top QC and that’s the sort of resource that is not available to everybody.


The despair parents can find themselves in has spawned an unofficial network that helps mothers flee British social services.

Multimillionaire Ian Josephs, now a resident of Monaco, told Exposure about his work advising and personally funding the travel costs of expectant mothers to leave Britain because, he believes, they have nowhere else to turn.

Even grandparents hoping to keep children within their families can find they run into difficulties.

Anthony and Alison were desperate to adopt their grandson when social services decided their daughter was not a fit mother, but after Alison missed two meetings with social workers, a decision was taken to continue showing the child to prospective adoptive families.

The minute we have to go he heads down, he becomes this shut off little boy, who’s confused.

He tends to want to cling near me, thinking I am going to take him away now, take him home. And that doesn’t happen.

And so each time we see him, this is what we have to face. It’s so hard. I really miss him. I really do, I really do miss him.


They now have visiting rights, but they all still feel the heartache of saying goodbye when they have to leave.


| UK Judge blasts social workers telling them they ‘are not above the law!’

Judge blasts social workers telling them they ‘are not above the law’ after they remove nine-year-old from family then keep him away without consent ~ TARA BRADY, Daily Mail.

  • Judge Gareth Jones said social services were not above the law
  • He suspected proper procedures were not followed in order to save money
  • The mother won an injunction to have her son returned to her immediately
  • Barrister David Abberton said social services had acted unlawfully
  • Anglesey County Council claimed that it acted in good faith
  • Judge requested the case was made public to push council to improve

Judge Gareth Jones said that social services were not above the law

A judge has blasted social workers who he said illegally withheld a nine-year-old boy from his mother.

Judge Gareth Jones said that social services were not above the law and that he suspected proper procedures were not followed in order to save money.

Now the mother – who won an injunction to have her son returned to her immediately – is seeking damages from Anglesey County Council in North Wales.

Her lawyer, Frances Jones, today confirmed the child had been returned to his mother immediately after the injunction was granted.

She said: ‘As the mother’s solicitor I am delighted to have played a part in bringing the child home.

‘We are now continuing with the claim for damages.’

The child was taken in as a temporary case while the mother received treatment in a psychiatric unit but was not returned to her for five months for which there was consent.

When she came out of treatment she withdrew consent and asked for her son back.

However social workers refused and put him in foster care.

But they did not make applications for a care order first – so rights were denied.

Their barrister David Abberton took the issue to court and said social services had acted unlawfully.

Judge Gareth Jones, sitting at the family division of the high court in Mold, agreed and asked for his judgement to be made public so that lessons could be learned.

The court heard how the child had been taken to hospital with pneumonia in March of last year and the mother had a short stay in a psychiatric ward.

On release from hospital the boy was placed in foster care and in April, when she was back home, the mother asked for her son back.

The judge said that once the mother indicated her consent for the child to be in care had been withdrawn, the local authority should have asked itself very carefully on what statutory basis it continued to place him with foster carers.

Mr Abberton argued there was simply no legal basis at all which breached their client’s human rights to a family life.

Under fire: The mother is seeking damages from Anglesey County Council in North Wales

Under fire: The mother is seeking damages from Anglesey County Council in North Wales

Anglesey County Council claimed that it acted in good faith and said the placement was for the child’s welfare – but accepted that social workers had not followed the correct procedures.

The judge said that once the mother’s consent was withdrawn the authority should have gone to court to apply for an emergency protection order or an interim care order.

In the absence of any application to the court, the mother was entitled to remove the child from care at any time, he said.

The authority had acted unreasonably by failing to initiative such applications.

‘By failing to do so, they were essentially maintaining an unlawful position,’ he said.

The judge said that he was ‘extremely critical’ of the council’s conduct.

No one dealing with the child had asked themselves under what lawful authority the child was being placed in care.

‘Social services are not above the law and they, like everybody else, is subject to it’

Judge Gareth Jones

‘The social services department of Ynys Mon Council in that respect, it seems to me, were acting beyond the proper control of that local authority’s legal department,’ he said.

They had failed to take proper legal steps, its failure to apply for orders meant that there was no judicial over-sight, the child was deprived independent representation to look after his interests.

Judge Gareth Jones sad that he had previously voiced his concern about a health board case which involved Anglesey council.

‘I have a suspicion, and it is only a suspicion, that this local authority may have fallen into the temptation of withholding the commencement of public proceedings for reasons of economy. I hope very much that this is not a correct suspicion.

‘If that suspicion was well founded, that to my mind would be wholly unacceptable.’

The judge said that the authority needed to carry out an urgent review of its internal procedures and he said that key personnel in positions of authority in social services and the children’s services department needed to be fully informed by the legal department of the legal framework in which they operated.

‘Social services are not above the law and they, like everybody else, is subject to it,’ he declared.

The judge said that Anglesey Council needed to demonstrate to the public of Ynys Mon that it is ‘able and competent’ once again to administer its local authority function without outside intervention.

It had ‘failed abysmally’ in the present case to demonstrate to the public that it could discharge its functions in a proper manner.

He said he hoped very much that the lesson would be learned for future cases .

The judge said the matter should be made public because if the public at large and those in authority were not aware of it there was no prospect of improvement.

To conceal matters when they went badly wrong served no public purpose whatsoever.

‘I see no reason why the court should connive in concealment of important information in cases of this kind,’ he said.

An Isle of Anglesey County Council spokesperson said: ‘Due to ongoing legal considerations, we are not in a position to comment on this matter.’


| A disturbing case of UK child removal that you can’t read about!

A disturbing case of child removal that you can’t read about ~ , The Telegraph.

One of the most bizarre examples of over-reacting social workers imaginable in Scotland has finally come to court – but now I can’t report any further details.

Circulating the internet has been a harrowing, two-hour recording of a Scottish family waiting for social workers and police to arrive to take two small children into care. Mostly we hear the father trying to talk calmly and reassuringly to his sons, who are chatting cheerily about how they want “to go to the beach”, although they all know what is going to happen. Finally, the social workers enter, saying they have an “emergency protection order” to remove the children, because of their “concern” that the family might leave the country. The children are heard crying as they are carried away. The father breaks down, sobbing and angry, although he manages to tell the police, still there, sounding sheepish, that he “appreciates” them for being “nice”.

The odd thing about this story is that, until last week, it had for years been widely reported in Scotland as one of the most bizarre examples of over-reacting social workers imaginable. Even now there is no allegation that the parents had harmed their children in any way. The local community is said to be outraged at what has happened. Yet now the case has finally come to court, neither I nor anyone else can report any further details of the story, for fear that the children might be identified.
scales of justice above the Old Bailey in London

Social workers used an ’emergency protection order’ to remove the children from their family  Photo: Geoff Pugh

Experienced observers who have been following this, including John Hemming MP, are confident that, if the proceedings turn out as they hope and suspect, this will indeed be a story worth reporting in full. But the time is not yet.


| UK family law shambles: Too many children are forcibly removed from their mothers!

Too many children are forcibly removed from their mothers ~ theguardian.com.

Helping unstable mothers raise the babies they love is surely sometimes a better option than the devastation of removal.

The emergence of court records revealing that 7,143 mothers have had 22,790 children removed in the last seven years is profoundly disturbing. It is traumatic enough for both mother and baby when this happens once – but horrifying to discover that the pattern is so often repeating itself.

The BBC has discovered that it is not uncommon for two, three or four children to be removed from the same mother, and sometimes many more. Why is it happening and what can be done to break this miserable and destructive cycle?

Mother and baby

‘Forcible removal of their children leaves mothers profoundly bereft: the only way to climb out of that abyss is to get pregnant again.’ Photograph: Bruce Ayres/Getty

Judges in the family court, though less visible than social workers, can face the same “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” criticism in these cases. The consequences of removing or not removing can rarely be predicted with scientific certainty. What is certain though is that many cases involve drugs, alcohol and/or mental health problems. Often the mothers have been raised in the same unstable and sometimes abusive environments that their babies are being born into. While there are cases of mothers who were brought up in chaotic environments who go on to be excellent parents, for many, a lousy upbringing increases the odds of repeating a destructive cycle.

It is also certain that many of the mothers who have their children removed love their offspring dearly, even if they are unable to provide adequate care for them. Forcible removal of their children leaves them profoundly bereft: the only way to climb out of that abyss is to get pregnant again.

Having a child forcibly removed can intensify the downward spiral in search of the oblivion that drink and drugs can momentarily provide. But conversely, forced removal can also be the only trigger that is effective in helping a mother to clamber out of the black hole. In her memoir of her time in prostitution, addicted to class A drugs – which led to the removal of her beloved children – Rhea Coombs said that the only factor strong enough to push her away from drugs and sex work was the incentive of being reunited with her children. She did in fact leave sex work and get clean: and she did get her kids back.

For mothers who have the odds stacked against them it takes time to turn their lives around, but time is the one thing that is often in short supply. If a child’s life is at risk, professionals cannot afford to adopt a wait-and-see approach. But the speed with which children, often those who have just emerged from the womb, are removed from their mothers, means that they only have the slenderest of windows to break a destructive cycle and give their children a good and loving start.

The US’s controversial Project Prevention takes the view that there is no point in giving mothers who have drug and alcohol problems a chance, because it’s a foregone conclusion that they will be rubbish parents. In a brisk transaction, the project pays drug and alcohol-using women to get sterilised or use long-term contraception so that they avoid bringing children into the world at all. To date they have paid more than 4,000 women in 50 US states to stop procreating. Critics accuse founder Barbara Harris of social engineering and eugenics.

In the UK, two initiatives give mothers rather more credit than Project Prevention for their ability to turn their lives around. The Strengthening Families Project, funded by Salford council, is run by a community midwife and a specialist social worker. They warn the women of the risks to themselves and their babies of abusing drugs and alcohol but, very importantly, also provide positive support and instruction, something that may be alien to them. The family drug and alcohol court has been running since 2008 and has had encouraging results – it has helped 35% of mothers to reunite with their children, compared with 19% in the ordinary family courts.

While programmes offering guidance and support won’t prevent all child removals, having many more of them on offer to troubled mothers could go a long way towards helping them successfully raise the babies they love. And for many of these women, who have not been dealt the best cards in life, it may be the first time they have had anyone encouraging them, believing in them and nurturing their confidence – giving them the support they need to become successful, loving mothers.


| Family court case spanning 13 years is ‘longest case’ in history, judge says!

Family court case spanning 13 years is ‘longest case’ in history, judge says ~ , The Telegraph.

A family court case which has taken almost 13 years is believed by a judge to be the longest running in history.

The longest case in the history of the family division of the High Court has concluded in a teenager refusing to see her father after 13 years of court hearings, costing taxpayers £1 million.

The 14-year-old girl at the centre of the case, who cannot be named, has refused direct contact with her father and has been exposed to a discord between her parents likened to “toxic radiation” during the duration of the hearings, according to judges.

Eight judges, numerous social workers and psychiatrists have been involved in more than 80 court appearances that have “irredeemably marred” the teenager’s childhood, judges have said.

Last September appeal judges ordered another hearing into the protracted case and said the teenager had been “failed” by the family justice system.

In the latest hearing Mr Justice Moylan, a senior Family Division judge, refused to order the girl to have direct contact with her father after she said she did not want it. The case started when she was 18 months old, and she is now 14-and-a-half.

He had been asked to re-examine the case by the Court of Apeeal.

He said it was the “longest dispute of its kind” he had encountered during his years as a judge and barrister.

However he added that in spite of all the bitterness between her parents she had developed into a “very bright girl.”

He said the girl lived with her legally aided 50-year-old mother who had mental health problems and a paranoid personality disorder.

The mother and 63-year-old father, who represented himself, never married but began a relationship in 1991. They separated when the mother had a breakdown in 1996 , but resumed their relationship in 1997 and their only daughter was born in 1999.

They separated again in 2001 when their daughter was just 18 months old , and the “long standing and deep seated problems and conflict began,” said the judge.

The teenager has lived with her mother for most of her life but during her health problems lived with her father for eight months in 2007, and maternal grandparents.

Contact with her father has broken down and he blames the mother, seeking an order for direct contact to be resumed.

The judge said the girl had now made up her own mind that she did not want to have contact with her father and it would not be in her best interests to try and enforce it as she would simply not go.

But he said he had “great sympathy” with the father and ruled there should be indirect contact.

It has been claimed the mother has influenced her decision because she does not want her to have contact.

But her court appointed guardian has said she has made up her own mind.

After the latest hearing the girl’s father said he was sad but not surprised.

“It’s what I expected,” he said. “It’s not what I wanted. I will have to suck it and see.”

He said he wanted to see his daughter and build a relationship.

And he said indirect contact – which means that he can write letters and e-mail – was not enough.

He added: “This is what happens when the system fails you.”



Father’s negligence claim against Cafcass dismissed

In F-D v Cafcass [2014] EWHC 1619 (QBD) a father has failed in his claim for damages against Cafcass.

Full story: Family Law Week