The Family Court has awarded £11,250 to a couple whose human rights were breached when their baby was taken away.
Mr Justice Cobb declared that social workers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, had misled a District Judge when they sought to remove the infant boy from his parent’s care. The mother suffered from minor learning difficulties and the father had apparently expressed “unorthodox views about the need for sterilisation of bottles, and the benefits of formula milk”. Staff at the care unit where the baby spent his first few days did not raise any concerns about his parents’ ability to look after him but medics from the maternity ward did.
Shortly after the boy was born, members of Kirklees Council applied for an emergency care order which would give parental responsibility for the child to his grandparents. At the hearing, the Judge was told “no fewer than three times that the parents knew” these proceedings were taking place when, in fact, they did not. The care order was made and the boy was placed with his grandparents.
The couple was “understandably very upset” when they were informed later that day of what had transpired. Although their son had been returned to them a few weeks later, they launched a legal bid for damages, claiming their human rights had been breached by the local authority.
At the Family Court in Sheffield, Mr Justice Cobb said that misleading the original Judge had been “particularly egregious” and that there was “no doubt in [his] mind” that the couple’s right to a fair trial and respect for their family had been breached. These are set out by Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Judge awarded each member of the family £3,750 in damages, which he said represented “just and fair satisfaction”.
Read the full judgment here.