Hackney Council must pay a London couple £20,000 after wrongly keeping their eight children in foster care, a judge has ruled.
Care proceedings originally began in 2007 following the arrest of one child for shoplifting. He claimed that his father had beaten him with a belt and left bruises on his face.
A subsequent inspection of the family home led police and Hackney Council to believe it was not a suitable environment for children. As a result, all eight were removed from their parents’ care and placed in foster homes.
This week, Deputy High Court judge Sir Robert Francis said that the parents’ ordeal had been sparked by a “relatively trivial incident” and “an allegation made by a young child in potential trouble”. He noted that prior to this incident, “there had been no previous concerns” about the parents’ ability to care for their children.
Social workers had said that the children would be returned “if some simple improvements were made to their home”. However, it was two months before the children were back in their parents’ care. He added that some of the foster homes the children were sent to “were of dubious quality”.
While the parents accepted that the initial removal was lawful, they claimed that Hackney Council had acted illegally by keeping the children after the temporary care order had expired.
The judge described the couple as “loving parents” who “were extremely distressed by the continued separation from their children”. He ordered the local authority to pay each parent £10,000 in damages.