A mother has been reunited with her child after a judge ruled that the family courts and social workers had been colluding during the case.
This case has drawn attention to the way in which the family courts have, to some extent, been following the instructions of social workers who are involved with families going through the court process.
The judge, Mrs Justice Pauffley, made it clear in her judgement that this behaviour must stop and that the family courts should focus on making impartial, independent decisions.
‘It is difficult to view the justices as having been independent and impartial if, as happened here, they simply adopted the local authority’s analysis of what their findings and reasons might comprise.’
‘Just because there may be tacit acceptance on the part of many professionals within the family justice system that the practice which operated here exists, that does not mean it is right.’
‘It is patently wrong, must stop at once and never happen again.’
‘There was, apparently, an established but largely clandestine arrangement between the local authority and the court which, to my mind, has considerable repercussions for justice.’
Mrs Justice Pauffley added: ‘In public law proceedings the local authority is the applicant. It is not and should never be seen as the decision maker. That is the role of the court.
‘There is no room for confusion. Justice must be upheld. There is no scope for dilution of that fundamental concept.’
The comments made in this case have been endorsed by the most senior family law judge, Sir James Munby, who has made efforts this year to reduce the secrecy surrounding family court decisions.