Home Breaking News Children moved 200 miles from London to Wirral after parents ‘take on...

Children moved 200 miles from London to Wirral after parents ‘take on social services’

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The Court of Appeal has heard a case that saw two young children from London taken into care and moved some 200 miles from home after their parents refused to follow court orders.

The children, aged four and two, had initially been moved to Wirral, Liverpool, by a family court, but the court’s judge had later decided to return the children to their mum, who lives in London.

Wirral Borough Council, however, brought the case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the family court judge’s decision to return the children to London had been ‘irrational’ in light of the evidence and that the order was “not a workable proposition for the children’s futures,” reports the Liverpool Echo.

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The court heard that the family court had actually been in a battle with the parents of the two children since 2018 when a neighbour of the family reported an altercation in the household.

According to court testimony, the dad, a former teacher who was indefinitely banned from the classroom in 2016 after assaulting a student, had greeted social workers who turned up at their address with “hostility and verbal aggression” while refusing to grant them entry.

He was later arrested for harassing the neighbour who had reported the incident, but was granted bail on the condition that he would stay away from the family home. He was arrested once more for breaking his bail terms.

In October 2018, a court had granted the mother custody, with limited, supervised contact with the father, on the basis that she lived with her parents.

At the time of the ruling she only had the first child, as the second child was not born till July 2019.

However, the mother was also stripped of custody after refusing to abide by the rulings, and the children were taken into care.

The dad, meanwhile, continued to trouble social workers. In January 2020 he was convicted for offences against the allocated case worker, and was arrested again in September 2020 for storming the family court in an attempt to confront the judge.

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According to Lord Justice Peter Jackson, presiding over the appeal case, staff had to “barricade themselves in rooms and the father was eventually incapacitated by police with PAVA spray” and the father was “charged with assaulting an emergency worker.”

The Court of Appeal heard that a final hearing in those care proceedings took place in October 2020, where the father’s behaviour was described by the judge as the “worst that he had ever seen” and he was excluded from the hearing.

That hearing got back on track the following day and the family were given yet another chance, with the family court judge agreeing for the children to remain with their mother and the father to have supervised contact.

The judge had ordered the father not to attend any property where the mother and children were living or where the children were at school.

Following those hearings, the mother and children moved from the maternal grandparents’ property and refused to tell social services in London where they were. They were eventually located after the court issued a recovery order, and social workers found the children and mother had been living with the father, although they appeared to be “well cared for”.

The children were moved back into foster care, but social workers recorded the father “intimating in a menacing way” that he knew where they were living.

Justice Jackson said as a result, the children had to move in February this year and again in March, ending up in Wirral around 200 miles away from London.

The original family court judge was close to making a placement order, permanently removing the children from their parents’ care, but was convinced not to after an emotional change of heart from the mother.

The original judge wrote at the time: “At the conclusion of her evidence the mother, for the first time in my experience of dealing with her, became emotional other than simply through venting frustration or raging against my decisions.

“There was no longer fire in her voice but now a real sadness and genuine upset.”

The original judge said he believed the mother when she said she would abide by anything the court decided, whether or not she agreed, and would do anything to be allowed to remain with her children.

Having described the parents’ non-cooperation with the family court as a ‘crusade’ against the authorities, Justice Jackson concluded: “Cases where parents decide to take on the system are always difficult.

“This was just such a case, and the judge was in my view to be permitted the widest latitude in deciding how to approach this very profound decision.

“He saw a change in the crucial matter of the mother’s willingness to offer some level of formal co-operation and he was entitled to factor that into his analysis.

“To that point, his decision may have been a brave one, but it was not irrational in the sense that would entitle an appeal court to interfere.”

However, Justice Jackson ruled the family court judge should have set that position as a “starting point” and asked for detailed proposals on how any arrangement to return the children to their mother would work.

The case has since been returned to the family court.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/uk-world-news/children-moved-200-miles-london-22381004