A father who was unable to see his children for two years has been awarded £15,000 for a breach in his human rights.
When the man and the children’s mother separated five years ago she made a serious allegation about him. She claimed that “both children had been sexually abused by the father”. Social services then launched an investigation.
The social worker who looked into the issue concluded that there was an “inherent improbability” in the mother’s claims and warned that the children may have been “coached to make false allegations”. Medical examinations of the children which the mother had demanded did not reveal any signs they had actually suffered abuse. Social services concluded that the mother’s actions were actually harmful to the children.
However, while the investigation was taking place the father’s contact with his children was stopped. By the time it had all been resolved, he had not seen his children in two years. To make matters worse, he had not been consulted at any stage of the investigation by Luton Borough Council, the local authority which dealt with the family’s case. He was also “given no opportunity to contribute to the investigation or the decisions”.
He applied to the High Court, claiming that this was a breach of his human rights to a fair trial and “respect for private and family life”, as set out by Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Luton Borough Council admitted keeping the father and children apart and agreed those actions amounted to a breach of his human rights. The local authority officially apologised to the father and agreed to pay him damages. While Mr Justice Cobb noted that this was a “compromise figure” he explained that all parties had agreed it represented “just satisfaction” as set out by Section 8(3) of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The two children have now been living with their father for the past year. The Judge reported that they were “thriving” and “making good academic progress”.
Read SW & TW (Children : Human Rights Claim: Procedure) in full here.
Photo by Alastair Campbell via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.