So, they're at it again. Those local council busybodies who confuse responsibility with dictatorial power, believing that their duty to look out for abused children means they have the right to kidnap babies, falsely accuse innocent parents and condemn families to heartbreak and humiliation. Here's Robert Franklin writing on the American Fathers and Families website ...
Here’s yet another story about a children’s welfare agency gone wild in its efforts to take three children from their loving parents. But there’s more to it than just that. Indeed, in this story, the social services agency for Devon County Council has a reasonably good excuse for its tactics, but the case also reveals just why those tactics recur in case after case in which they’re inexcusable.
As usual, the family can’t be named. They have three children, a twin girl and boy age two,and a son who’s one. Back in 2011, the twins were born and seemed to be healthy and thriving. But suddenly one day the little girl stopped breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital. That led eventually to an MRI scan of the child’s head that showed intra-cranial bleeding. And X-Ray of her showed a fractured rib and elbow. That led to suspicions on the part of the doctors, so they gave the boy an MRI as well. It too showed bleeding in the brain and fractured ribs.
Now, to any reasonable physician or social worker, those conditions fairly scream “child abuse!”. More to the point, they scream “shaken baby syndrome.” In the mind’s eye, it’s all too clear. These are infants; they cry, the parents pick them up by their torsos and in their frustration, shake them. The parents’ fingers grip the little chests so tightly they break ribs. The brain is shaken so violently, blood vessels rupture. It’s perfectly obvious.
So the children were taken from the parents by social services and at least one police officer called it “the worst case of child abuse I have ever come across in my 16-year career.” Fortunately, the children were placed with their grandparents, but the parents weren’t permitted to see them unsupervised.
But there was just one problem; the parents never harmed their children. They were kind, loving parents “besotted” with their children as the judge in the case finally said. Ironically, some of the fractures were probably the fault of the doctors struggling to intubate the children.
Then the woman became pregnant again. She gave birth to a son, but when he was three weeks old, he somehow fell out of his cradle. That fall resulted in – you guessed it – bleeding to the brain.
At that point, social services figured they had two serial child abusers, and after all, who could blame them? The council social workers asked a court to place the babies in care. The judge refused, but social services had the bit in its teeth.
As the mother says now: ‘It has been a nightmare. So many mistakes were made. We have lived for months under this massive terror that council social workers would take our children away. I was made to feel an evil woman by social workers. They treated me like a liar. We were accused of being child abusers by the police.'
It was left to her to hop on the Internet and research the children’s medical condition for herself. That led her to an appointment with a rheumatologist who diagnosed her with a rare condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which can cause bones to be fragile and bleeding in the brain.
Into the bargain, it turned out the babies’ father also has a condition that results in low calcium density in his bones. Each condition apparently can be passed on to the children. The upshot was that, unknown to all, the children were predisposed to fragile bones and bleeding in the brain. Their parents didn’t hurt them, the doctors did. They did so because all were unaware of the uniquely fragile condition of the children. The parents are kind and loving and would never harm their children. Eventually, a judge so ruled and returned the little ones to their rightful home.
So, all’s well that ends well, right? Not quite.
As this family get on with their life, there is another worrying aspect to this case. It concerns the judge’s decision that the family cannot be identified and that their whereabouts must be kept secret until the children are grown up — even though they have done nothing wrong.
The ruling, by Mr Justice Baker at the High Court in Exeter, means that if this family allow the media to use their real names, they will be in contempt of court and risk being sent to prison. That’s right. Per the judge’s ruling, everything that happened is top secret. Why?
That’s a good question, but I suspect it has to do with the old theory that any court case concerning children has to be kept from the public because some harm might come to the kids if someone were to learn of it. That’s always seemed like patent nonsense to me, a claim that’s utterly unproven and certainly not sufficient to trump the public’s right to know what their paid officials are up to.
Whatever the reasoning behind the gag order, it’s common in England. These gagging orders have become normal in such family court cases where parents are eventually found innocent of any wrongdoing. Last week, Bill Bache, the family’s lawyer and an expert on family courts, said: ‘This ruling impinges on this family’s freedom of speech. This is very troubling.’
And John Hemming, the Lib Dem MP campaigning against court secrecy, added: ‘These rulings stop innocent families talking openly about their experiences and they protect the doctors, social workers and police who wrongly pointed the finger of blame at them.’
His views are endorsed by Alison Stevens, who runs the charity Parents Against Injustice. She said: ‘Most innocent parents who win their children back face a gagging order from the family courts. It means the mistakes made by social workers, doctors and the family courts are concealed.’
Just so. The secrecy with which British courts and social services agencies operate in cases involving children has far less to do with protecting the children than with protecting social workers. Remember how the mother described her and her husband’s ordeal? She called it “a nightmare,” “massive terror.” “They treated me like a liar.”
Those are typical tactics used by state employees who know they can’t be called to account for their abusive misdeeds. They know they operate in secret and can get away with virtually anything. That’s how secrecy works. People who don’t fear their actions being exposed to the light of public awareness typically behave worse than those who do.
Ask another question. How will these social workers, police, etc. behave the next time they’re faced with a questionable case? What will encourage them to be more balanced, to question their own conclusions? Nothing that I can see. They’re free to visit another nightmare on innocent parents. Again and again and again.
The British willingness to hide the behaviour of child welfare workers from public scrutiny paradoxically creates a situation that often encourages the abuse of children by those very workers. After all, that’s what taking children from innocent, caring parents is – abuse.
We’re a bit better about this in the U.S. Yes, child protection agencies are covered by a veneer of secrecy, and they ceaselessly lobby state legislature for yet more. But here, the press actually can get hold of information about what CPS does in cases and what it doesn’t do. It’s often not easy, but there’s seldom a court order that results in prison time if it’s not obeyed.
Like every other governmental entity, child welfare agencies function better if We the People know what they’re up to. And, like every other governmental entity, child welfare agencies don’t want any part of it. Their ace in the hole is kids, whom they claim to be protecting by keeping secret what we all should know. The case of the British couple and many others graphically show that to be untrue.
Not so long ago Christopher Brooker wrote a series of articles in the Telegraph. They were reproduced on the Parents against Injustice website from where we have copied a couple of them ...
26th May 2012
Two parallel stories last week highlighted what has become one of the most bizarre features of our “child protection” system – the fanatical determination of our social workers to track down mothers who have fled overseas to escape their clutches, and bring their children back to “care” in England.
On March 22, I reported, in anonymised form, the case of Joe Ollis and Marie Black, who escaped to start a new life at his mother’s home in France, so that they could keep the child they were expecting. Norfolk social workers had threatened to seize the baby as soon as it was born, because of the mother’s domestic problems in a previous relationship. The social workers were authorised by a court to go to France (at a cost of £8,000) and bring the baby back to England.
Fortunately, at a later hearing, a French journalist, who had been following this unhappy story, ran into Brendan Fleming outside the court. He is the one solicitor who has won a reputation for fighting the manifold abuses and injustices of this crazily corrupted system. He took on the case and challenged the judge’s ruling in the High Court. It appeared to have been in breach of EU law (“Brussels II” as it is known). It had also breached the famous “Hedley judgment”, by ruling that a baby born in France could be considered as having had “habitual residence” in England – even though it had never been here.
Last Monday, lawyers for Norfolk caved in. A High Court judge discharged all the earlier orders, ruling that the baby must be returned to France and closing the case (which is why I can now name the parents and the local authority).
The social workers, I gather, have tried to protest that this is a problem, because the baby hasn’t got a passport – though this didn’t stand in the way of their bringing the child to England in the first place. But an important principle of law has been upheld, and a dreadful injustice is on the way to being reversed.
How ironic that, in the same week, Welsh social workers seemed just as determined to track down another couple, who recently escaped to Spain to avoid their child being seized at birth, because of incidents involving the mother’s previous partner.
On Thursday, after a court had placed orders on the child, even though it was born in Spain, a social worker led a team of six policemen round the homes of the mother’s divorced mother, father and sister, threatening them with prison if they did not reveal the couple’s whereabouts. At the direction of the social worker, all three homes, I gather, were searched from top to bottom.
The child’s grandmother and grandfather were separately arrested and held in custody for several hours before being released without charge. The police also confiscated parcels due to be delivered by the grandmother as part of her job, refusing to give them back.
I hope that this second awful case can also be taken on by the doughty Brendan Fleming, who for so many parents has become a shining light in the nightmare world in which they find themselves.
9th June 2012
One of many things to surprise me, as I have investigated the nightmarish underworld of our “child protection” system, has been the contemptuous way in which our social workers seem so willing to disobey the orders of judges. This is the third week running when I have had to report on an order given by Mr Justice Bodey in the High Court on May 21, that Norfolk social workers must, “as soon as practicable”, return to France a baby born in France to an English couple who last year settled there.
These council officials had spent nearly £20,000 of taxpayers’ money travelling to France to seize the baby, on the argument that it was “habitually resident” in England, even though it had never lived here.
Judge Bodey rejected their bizarre argument, ruling that the English courts had no jurisdiction over the child. He discharged the orders made by a lower court and ruled that the child must be returned to France no later than June 1.
The social workers at first said they could not meet this deadline, because the baby didn’t have a passport (though that had not prevented them from bringing it to England in the first place). A stream of emails from the lawyers representing the distraught mother were ignored, until finally the council was threatened with further legal proceedings and the social workers agreed to return the child to France. But now they say they cannot do so until June 15 because one of them is on holiday.
It is truly remarkable that, while some 200 mothers a year are imprisoned for “contempt of court”, for breaching orders made by judges in family cases, when social workers similarly show contempt for court orders, they and the councils they work for seem to believe they can do so with impunity.
The GOS says: One of many things to surprise me, to borrow Brooker's words, is how often Norfolk County Council crops up in these stories. It was Norfolk's persecution of a Sheringham family several years ago that first alerted me to the dreadful injustices being perpetrated by the secretive Family Courts. It was a family that had a long history of brittle bones, but that made no difference to Norfolk social services or the Family Court which sent three children for adoption, and despite legal proceedings that went all the way to the High Court, those children are still adopted, the family don't know where they are and have no chance of ever seeing them again. The parents were never charged with anything. They've paid a pretty high price for their complete innocence.
If anyone else took three children away from their parents and sent them to live for ever in secret miles away (that is, we presume they're still alive and healthy. We don't know for certain – because it's a secret!), they'd be arrested, charged and presumably imprisoned. There's not that much difference between these children and little April Jones, or Madeleine McCann, torn from their families to meet a fate that is still a mystery since no trace of them has ever been found. In those cases our authorities are prepared to hunt and hunt for them and pursue their abductors, but when it's the authority that's the abductor they're happy to hide behind a cloak of secrecy and gagging orders. I'd like to see these social workers, doctors and lawyers subject not just to public scrutiny, but to the same laws that govern the rest of us.
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