Two children separated from their mother for ten months without good reason have been awarded damages by the High Court.
The siblings, then aged seven and two, were taken into care after their parents were arrested in April 2014 by West Yorkshire Police officers, Mr Justice Cobb was told at a hearing in Leeds. The mother was never charged with an offence but almost a year passed before she was reunited with the children.
The Judge noted that by March last year, the children “were expressing very considerable distress at their separation from their parents and were requesting to see them.”
The father, meanwhile, was jailed for the possession of indecent images.
Mr Justice Cobb was very critical of West Yorkshire Police and Wakefield Council, saying their investigations had been seriously flawed and conducted with little regard for “ordinary principles of good professional practice”.
These had centred around the unfounded belief that the a video found on a computer belonging to the family had shown the mother sexually abusing her daughter.
Mr Justice Cobb declared:
“There was no strategic leadership in this joint investigation; each arm of the inquiry lacked direction, and there was no one individual taking responsibility for the co-ordination of the inquiries. Insofar as this role was fulfilled by the Officer in the Case, he allowed his own beliefs … to cloud his judgment.”
The children’s rights to “private and family life” as defined by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, along with the family’s right to a fair trial, as defined by Article 6, had both been “profoundly and obviously” breached he declared, awarding each youngster £5,000 in compensation. The mother, meanwhile, would receive £10,000.