A father whose son was put up for adoption has been sentenced to prison for “serious breaches” of court orders.
In Suffolk County Council v H, the man’s son had been the subject of care and placement orders in August 2013. A care order gives the local authority parental responsibility for a child and a placement order gives them permission to put the child with a new family.
The father responded by sending a home-made DVD to Suffolk County Council accusing them of lying in court in order to have his son taken away. He read out sections of the judgment which were critical of the council and threatened to “go public” if the decision was not reversed.
In response, the council sought ‘injunctive relief’ against him. Injunctive relief is a court order which forbids certain actions. The council’s application was granted and the man was told he could not show the DVD to “any newspaper, journalist or media organisation”, or make its contents public in any way.
Not long afterwards, the man uploaded the video to YouTube, and tweeted links to the video “to countless celebrities, politicians and media organisations”.
Suffolk County Council took the man to court. During the hearing, he threatened to kill the local authority service manager if anything happened to his son. This added a contempt of court charge to his breaches of court orders.
Sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Moor said the father had committed “very serious breaches” of the court order and that a fine would not be sufficient. Therefore he ordered that the man serve two months in prison.
In a postscript to the judgment, the Judge said the man had since applied to have his contempt ‘purged’ (cleared). He apologised to the judge and said his time in prison was a “nightmare” he did not wish to repeat. The judge accepted his application and released him from custody.
The case served as a reminder that court orders “should be obeyed at all times”, added the judge, and that the consequences of a breach were very serious.
To read the full judgment, click here.
Photo by Michael Coghlan via Flickr