Parents with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties

What is a learning disability or difficulty?

This post contains information taken from talk by Beth Tarleton from the University of Bristol at the St John’s Chambers Fair Access seminar on 4th December 2014.

Mencap describe it in this way:

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

A parent with a ‘learning disability’ has a IQ below 70; a parent with a ‘learning difficulty’ has an IQ above 70, but both parents may struggle with the same difficulties. Often, mainstream services don’t have experience of working with adults with learning disabilities or learning difficulties [LD] and may not use specialist assessments.

There is little reliable data about how many parents currently face such challenges; there is an estimate of 53,000 in the UK with a diagnosed learning  disability. Dr Sue McGaw (1997) estimated there are 250,000 parents with learning difficulties known to health and social services agencies in the UK.

 

What challenges do parents face with LD in care proceedings?

Best Beginnings describe it in this way:

Many people who have a learning disability prefer to use the term “learning difficulty”.
A person with an IQ of less than 70 can be diagnosed as having a learning disability.
Around 7% of adults with a learning disability are parents, but most have a mild to borderline impairment, which may make it difficult to identify them as they will not have a formal diagnosis.
Around 40% of parents with a learning disability do not live with their children. The children of parents with a learning disability are more likely than any other group of children to be removed from their parents’ care.
Parents with a learning disability are often affected by poverty, social isolation, stress, mental health problems, low literacy and communication difficulties.

Parents with LD may suffer discrimination from professionals who have little relevant experience and who make assumptions about what parents with LD can or cannot do. This leads to parents with LD often fearing intervention from state agencies. The parents may perceive:

  • Opposition to their desire to parent
  • People assuming the pregnancy was a mistake
  • Assumptions that their parenting capacity won’t improve
  • Negative expectations/stereotypes about their parenting ability
  • Their learning difficulty is automatically equated with an inability to parent
  • People don’t given enough consideration to other environmental or social factors which could impact on parenting difficulties.

There is no consensus from research that children of parents with learning difficulties will automatically face poor outcomes; some studies find that children born to parents with LD are vulnerable due to poor parenting; other studies report that children can do well in the care of their parents if the parents are given support and help.

There needs to be a recognition from support services that parents with LD need life-long support and that support needs to be effective, making provision of information accessible to parents. Effective support services will:

  • cover the family life cycle and a variety of situations
  • offer a co-ordinated approach across services
  • be family-centred in approach and support children in their own right
  • provide accessible and understandable information about parenting
  • recognise the strong association between supportive social networks and the positive psychological well-being of parents with LD
  • include a range of services
  • assess/educate parents in their own homes and using their own equipment, wherever possible.

 

Case law

Medway Council v A & Ors (Learning Disability; Foster Placement) [2015] EWFC B66 (2 June 2015) deals with the failures of the LA to be fair to a parent with LD.

The court cited from the judgement of Baker J in Re X Y X (Minors) [2011] EWHC 402 (Fam):

132. The last thirty years have seen a radical reappraisal of the way in which people with a learning disability are treated in society. It is now recognised that they need to be supported and enabled to lead their lives as full members of the community, free from discrimination and prejudice. This policy is right, not only for the individual, since it gives due respect to his or her personal autonomy and human rights, but also for society at large, since it is to the benefit of the whole community that all people are included and respected as equal members of society. One consequence of this change in attitudes has been a wider acceptance that people with learning disability may, in many cases, with assistance, be able to bring up children successfully. Another consequence has been the realisation that learning disability often goes undetected, with the result that persons with such disabilities are not afforded the help that they need to meet the challenges that modern life poses, particularly in certain areas of life, notably education, the workplace and the family.

133. To meet the particular difficulties encountered in identifying and helping those with a learning disability in the family, the government published in 2007 “Good Practice Guidance on Working with Parents with a Learning Disability”. In their closing submissions, Miss Ball and Miss Boye contended that such good practice guidance is required because there is little evidence of effective joint working between adult and children’s services and practitioners in each area rarely have a good working knowledge of the policy and legislative framework within which the other is working. They submitted that local authorities frequently do not take account of the fact that, if children are to be enabled to remain in their own families, a specialist approach to a parent with a learning disability is absolutely central to any work that is done, any protection which is offered and any hope of keeping the family together. The 2007 guidance points out, inter alia, that a specialised response is often required when working with families where the parent has a learning disability; that key features of good practice in working with parents with a learning disability include (a) accessible and clear information, (b) clear and co-ordinated referral and assessment procedures, (c) support designed to meet the parent’s needs and strengths, (d) long-term support where necessary, and (e) access to independent advocacy; that people may misunderstand or misinterpret what a professional is telling them so that it is important to check what someone understands, and to avoid blaming them for getting the wrong message; that adult and children’s services and health and social care should jointly agree local protocols for referrals, assessments and care pathways in order to respond appropriately and promptly to the needs of both parents and children; and that, if a referral is made to children’s services and then it becomes apparent that a parent has a learning disability, a referral should also be made to adult learning disability services. The guidance also stresses that close attention should be paid to the parent’s access needs, which may include putting written material into an accessible format, avoiding the use of jargon, taking more time to explain things, and being prepared to tell parents things more than once.”

Another important case is re D (A Child) (No 3) [2016] EWFC1 which looked at how parents could be supported at home to care for their children (although in this case the court concluded that the children should be removed). Suesspiciousminds identified some useful questions put to the court by the parents’ lawyers:

  1. Were the things that happened to this child a result of parental deficiency, or were they frankly things that could happen to any child and any parent, but they were pathologised because of the parents known issues?
  2.  Were the failings here attributable to the parents, or the support provided?
  3. Is there such a thing in law as reparative care, or is insisting that a child needs higher than good enough care simply a social engineering argument in disguise (topical, given the proposed reforms to adoption)
  4. Is a parent with learning difficulties treated differently (or discriminated against) than a parent with physical disabilities?
  5. Is a plan that involves extensive professional support and carers really harmful to a child, or is it the sort of thing that happens all the time with children whose parents are very rich?

 

Academic Research

Parents with learning difficulties, child protection and the courts

Professor Tim Booth from the University of Sheffield carried out research in this area which was published in 2004. He noted key features of professional practice and service organisation that undermined parents in their parenting and heighten their vulnerability. Parents with LD are disproportionately represented in care proceedings and have a high risk of having their children removed from their care. He noted the impact of ‘system abuse’ or setting up vulnerable parents to fail by depriving them of adequate support:

  • System abuse – meaning policies and practices that harm the families they are supposed to support or protect. System abuse is the unacknowledged scourge of families (see, for example, Booth and Booth, 1998, chapter 9). It is rampant, pervasive and destructive of family life…
  • Competence-inhibiting support – meaning support that deskills parents, reinforces their feelings of inadequacy and undermines their independence.

Parents with LD and advice about the law

There is also research from the University of Bristol in July 2013 ‘What happens when people with learning disabilities need advice about the law’ 

The report concluded that:

The research confirms the findings of previous research that access to legal services for people with learning disabilities remains problematic. The study adds detail and depth to our understanding of the barriers that they face, but also furnishes some of the potential solutions. It highlights the different needs of people with mild learning disabilities and those with more complex disabilities who rely on others to act on their behalf.

The report makes recommendations which centre on:

  • Developing accessible information for people with learning disabilities about the purpose of legal services and how they can be used;
  • Developing information and resources to clarify the routes that family carers and others can take to access specialist legal services on behalf of others;
  • Strengthening the awareness legal professionals have about learning disabilities through professional training and guidance;
  • The promotion of collaborative working between legal services and the social care sector.

 

The influence of ‘powerful others’

There is an excellent and informative article from the British Journal of Learning Disabilities about parents with learning disabilities and their experiences of having their children removed for not being ‘good enough’ parents. Its a useful reminder that there is no universal accepted definition of what exactly makes us ‘good enough’.

Thanks to Matt Harding for bringing this to our attention.

Accessible summary

  • People with learning disabilities might have their children taken from their care. If they do, what then happens to the parents?
  • I talked to nine mums who had their children taken away from their care. They told me about what this was like and how they felt.
  • This research gives advice to people (particularly professional people) about how to work better with mums who have had their children removed. It also shows that sometimes it is difficult for people with learning disabilities to know their rights and say what they think.

Abstract

There is a recognised risk of parents with learning disabilities having their children removed. Little research has investigated the impact of this on these parents. This article looks at the perceptions of nine mothers with mild learning disabilities and their experiences having had their children removed. Interview data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Findings reveal the struggles mothers with learning disabilities faced being ‘suitable mother’ – including presumed incompetence and scrutiny of parenting. Participants’ responses to having had their children removed are looked at and support reviewed. Finally issues of power were highlighted throughout Participants’ accounts and the impact of this is discussed. Clinical implications indicate areas for service improvement.

Conclusion

There appears to be an overwhelming influence of ‘powerful others’ upon the lives of mothers with learning disabilities. Before they even have a child, society seems to suggest they should not. When they do have their child, however, they appear to have to be better than ‘good enough parents’ and seem set up to fail by the standards of those monitoring them (Chinn, 1996 cited in Edmonds 2000). When the mothers do ‘fail’, powerful others remove the child. There seems little negotiation in this process. Few mothers appear to have advocates and the child is often then adopted –a decision sometimes not even made through court. To the mothers, the decision appears a foregone conclusion over which they have little control or choice.

What then do the mothers do? How do they cope? They are left feeling helpless and bereft. They could turn to others for help but past experience has taught them that this may not be beneficial. Moreover, for many mothers it might mean turning to those who removed their child in the first place. Should mothers reveal their true feelings it might only serve to prove it was right to remove their children. Worse still, it could support the removal of yet more of her children. The mothers’ voices and feelings therefore seem to remain hidden and they attempt to block out upsetting thoughts and reminders. It appears their only solace is that one day their child might return. Meanwhile any contact will suffice. However, all this once again appears to rest in the hands of powerful others.

Useful resources

  • ‘Care Proceedings and Learning Disabled Parents: A Handbook for Family Lawyers’ by Abigail Bond. A handbook for all those involved in care proceedings where one or both of the parents is learning disabled. The book sets out the relevant governmental policy and guidance in this area; examines the statutory framework relevant to adult learning disability social workers and children s services social workers where there is a parent with a learning disability; considers and analyses the legal and practical arguments and issues likely to arise in learning disability cases.
  • Competency based assessment of support needs: PAMS 3.0 is a complete Parent Assessment Application used by social workers, psychologists and other professionals across the UK and abroad. Developed by psychologist Dr Sue McGaw.
  • Good Practice Guidance on Working with Parents with Learning Disabilities [DoH and DoE 2007] Includes a summary of relevant legislation and policy, on how adult and children’s services should work together to improve support to parents with a learning disability and their children. Requires updating, but much of guidance still relevant and helpful.
  • Working Together with Parents Network – supports professionals working with parents with learning difficulties and learning disabilities, and their children. Provides information and research about parents with learning difficulties, guidance, packs, toolkits and links to other organisations.
  • You may also be interested in this post on how the court should ensure proceedings are fair for parents who have a learning disability.
  • The Advocate’s Gateway -The Advocate’s Gateway gives free access to practical, evidence-based guidance on vulnerable witnesses and defendants. Their ‘toolkits’ provide advocates with general good practice guidance when preparing for trial. See for example the Toolkit ‘Case Management in young and other vulnerable witnesses cases‘
  • Communicourt – Provides intermediaries at all stages of the legal process, to ensure the vulnerable client has a fair hearing, understanding the process, being involved fully in decision making and able to respond to questions if appropriate.
  • Mencap -organisation with a  vision for a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to and included and for everyone to have the opportunity to achieve the things they want out of life.

 

 

70 thoughts on “Parents with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties

  1. Matt Harding

    On the credit, I came across it on Jean Robinson’s reader post in suesspiciousminds. I wouldn’t feel right taking credit for it. Just letting you know and thanks for putting the article up.

    Reply
  2. sam

    I clicked on the research from Bristol University. I found several parts disturbing and actually reduced me to tears. I do not have a learning disability but I do know people who have including Mum’s who have had their children removed. I found the following upsetting.

    “The process of adoption varied, with some mothers seemingly knowing their rights better than others. Helen talked about refusing to sign adoption papers at least four times, meaning social services had to take her to court before her child was adopted. Other mothers seemed unaware that this was an option. None of the mothers recalled having an advocate present when social services asked them to sign papers regarding their children’s adoption. ”

    Surely this can not be right?

    Reply
  3. Sarah Phillimore

    No, of course it’s not right. Parents with LD do seem to get a particularly raw deal – awareness of intermediaries/advocates is slowly growing but we have a way to go yet.

    I think major part of problem is lack of professional appreciation of the difficulties. It’s an ‘unknown unknown’ for many of us. And a lot of clients are desparate not to be judged as ‘thick’ so will claim they understood when it becomes clear down the line they really didn’t.

    I try to always remember to tell clients that they MUST interrupt me if they don’t understand what I am saying. But it takes a particular kind of confidence to do that, and we can’t assume that everyone will find it easy to do.

    Reply
  4. C

    A recent case in Hertfordshire –
    Hertfordshire County Council v F & Others [2014] EWHC 2159 (Fam)
    – has had a lot of exposure, principally by the father, who has begun a series of short Utube videos, illustrating, for instance that the psychologist from Parenting Profiles Ltd who did the assessment on his wife, was paid £82,500 by the LA for her profiling services. This has a whiff of dependency to me, and it certainly does to him. He is also particularly enraged that she persists in signing herself Dr. Linda Jeffes, although she is not in fact a doctor…
    In this case it appears that the child was removed from the family because of a combination of factors: 1) the mother’s learning difficulties, and 2) the fathers lack of cooperation.
    In such a scenario cooperation would seem to me to be more likely a demonstration of lack of parental involvement, whereas vigorously fighting for your child must be seen as responsible parenting.

    The judgment at times makes alarming reading, for instance:

    Care proceedings regarding J started on 1st July 2012. The parents cared for J in a residential unit for 5 weeks and did excellently well. J returned home with them but by October 2012 the local authority was concerned in respect of the father’s inability to cooperate with support and monitoring. A supervision order was made on 26th October 2012 and then, following the parents missing appointments with the psychologist instructed in the case and then refusing the social worker access to the home on 21st February 2013, an interim care order was made. (Parker J noted that in fact everything had been fine with the family home at that time, but that the local authority had to investigate pursuant to their statutory duties.)

    The judge comments: The mother is a very likeable, very warm individual. She is said – although she disputes this – to suffer from a learning disability. She presents in the witness box as a very articulate lady.

    Later in the judgment, in reviewing the father’s refusal to allow Social Services into the flat: ‘ …the difficulty is not what actually was; the difficulty is what the local authority feared might be the case..’

    ‘Throughout these proceedings it has been that the father’s view that he can cope; he can be trusted; in deciding to make sure the support is there. He is opposed to the role of the local authority; and he says that their anxiety to check that all is well with the children is misplaced because it is totally unnecessary. But the local authority has statutory duties in respect of all children in need and particularly children who are the subject of proceedings. They have to think about what might be, what might reasonably be feared, as well as what actually has happened.’

    This kind of sinister creative thinking has the unfortunate capability to manifest the things it fears, and so the social services ‘prejudices’ are confirmed. The children have been put up for adoption.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Is that last line a quote from the Judge? If so, that’s very interesting… off to find the judgment.

      Reply
  5. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    From the headnote to Hertfordshire case:
    At court on 21st February the father also assaulted one of the social workers whilst J was present. Parker J commented that the parents had not accepted the effect this would have had on J and that though the mother did not condone the father’s actions, she was unable to address and tackle his aggressive behaviour. Shortly afterwards, the parents both stated that they had separated. The father was then convicted of threatening to kill another social worker on 3rd July (albeit he was at the time of the hearing before Parker J appealing that conviction). The father refused permission to have J immunised.

    This is rather more than a ‘lack of co-operation’. How would you expect the courts to respond to this level of aggression, even if it is provoked by justified anger?

    Reply
    1. C

      …He had, I think, by this stage been arrested by police, and on the advice of that SS, stripped and left naked in his cell, because of ‘risk of self harming’. Neither party is going to win a peace prize.

      Reply
  6. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    From the judgment:
    They granted an interim care order because of the father’s aggressive behaviour and the risk of further violent outbursts. Unfortunately, that finding made things worse rather than better because the father, in the court room, then assaulted the social worker – a male social worker – by punching him in the face a number of times. The father says that he was provoked into this because the social worker barged him with his shoulder. The father thought this was done deliberately. But he did not pause to tackle the social worker about this or to ask for an apology. He just immediately reacted and struck the social worker about the face. The Social Services became even more concerned about the father because J was in the courtroom when this all took place. He was in his pushchair. The mother and the father were asked about this in the witness box when they gave evidence. Neither of them could see that there was any likely harm possible to J in that situation at all. Each of them said that J was about the same distance as the length of this courtroom (15 to 20 feet) from the area where this fracas was going on. Mother says that J was crying before the incident took place and that was because he was hungry, but of course he was only 10 months old and so he was not able to express his views about what was going on. The father says that there was no shouting out or calling out or noise: I do not know whether there was or not, but there might well have been. It must have been apparent to anybody who was able to stand back rather than emotionally reacting in the heat of the moment, that this could have been a very distressing experience indeed for a baby. The mother says the baby was facing away and I do not know whether that is a true memory or not. Even if it was, the baby was quite capable of hearing noise. I simply do not accept that a really quite serious assault like this can take place without others in the room being aware of it.

    11 I was very troubled indeed by the perception of the parents that a serious incident like this could acceptably take place in front of a child, and that a 10-month old baby is not aware of what is going on around him and does not have feelings. Much though both of these parents adore these children I have been worried during the course of this hearing about aspects of their evidence when it has been difficult for them to stand back and look at things from the point of view of a small child and how a small child is likely to feel. Babies and small children have feelings even if they are not able to express them and are entitled to have those feelings taken notice of and regarded, rather than simply being seen as objects to whom their experiences do not matter.

    Reply
    1. C

      I agree that that sort of violence in court or anywhere is distressing. Whether it is more distressing, and more traumatic to the personality, than being removed from your parents is a matter of debate. I would say that adoption risks creating a much deeper wound.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        I am afraid, having had both personal and professional experience of damaged, unhappy people who are very damaged and unhappy because of what they had to watch and listen to as children, in the care of their parents, and who go on to spread their unhappiness around, I profoundly disagree with your comment as true in the majority of cases.

        Reply
    1. C

      I don’t see the justification in a care order. A common assault charge would have sufficed to deal with the father’s behaviour, which had only been brought about by the threat of a care order, in the first place.
      As for the child, the distress had already occurred in terms of the violence and could not be erased. However the distress caused by the care order and removal from his mother could still have been avoided.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        As I understand it, the mother was not able to parent without considerable support. The father could not provide that support due to his personality traits. The court did not agree the mother could or would separate from the father. Both parents displayed a serious lack of understanding about the impact of violent behaviour on children. The risks of significant harm were made out – in my view. And these risks could not be mitigated due to the father’s personality and the way he chose to respond to professional intervention.

        Reply
        1. C

          The father would certainly dispute that he was unable to give support – for any reason. …so it appears, would the judge. From the judgment:

          …her low level of intellectual functioning might expose J to emotional and physical neglect if she was to parent completely unsupported. She did comment, as indeed I have commented, that the father appears to have many of the support characteristics which the mother requires – security, income, stability and love – and I acknowledge that.

          ..She said that the mother clearly loves the father – as I find her to do – and ‘It is in so many ways a mutually supportive relationship with many commendable features.’

          The father’s rage is only against Social Services. for the S/W to say: ‘To harbour such consummate mistrust and overt anger and unacceptable behaviour towards the very persons who are in the business of protecting his son exposes his son to the likelihood of emotional harm,’ is disingenuous. It shows an absolute ignorance of the way that any s/w would be perceived by any parent if they were trying to take their child, which is what this S/w was intent on doing.

          Reply
          1. C

            Whoops it happened again…
            The father’s rage is only against Social Services. for the S/W to say: ‘To harbour such consummate mistrust and overt anger and unacceptable behaviour towards the very persons who are in the business of protecting his son exposes his son to the likelihood of emotional harm,’ is disingenuous. It shows an absolute ignorance of the way that any s/w would be perceived by any parent if they were trying to take their child, which is what this S/w was intent on doing.

          2. Sarah Phillimore

            I absolutely disagree with that last part. Read the judgment again. The tragedy is this family would have stayed together if he had accepted intervention and support.

  7. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    Further from the judgement

    ‘As Judge Mellanby records, the father developed a conviction that the local authority was in conspiracy or in allegiance with CAFCASS, and intended to remove his child whatever he did. The social worker (the one who was later assaulted by the father) explained to the judge the number of different approaches he had tried to convince the father that this was not the case, but that the father would not listen. Changes of personnel visiting the house, offers of meetings and conciliation, had fallen on deaf ears, and the father had begun to adopt an almost siege mentality. Although the mother voiced her independence and continued to accept the offer of support provided, the local authority was becoming increasingly concerned that she was under the father’s control. It did not help that assessments were not complied with or appointments were not attended. Judge Mellanby used the word ‘paranoid’ several times about the father. She is not a doctor just as I am not a doctor and this is a word to be used, I think, with circumspection by a non-qualified person; but I certainly have found the father in his evidence before me to show a degree of suspicion of all kinds of people, and a degree of conviction about malign associations between professionals, which is highly unusual. It does not seem to be based on any objective evidence at all. That mindset seriously inhibits the father’s ability to see the interests of his children in an objective way and it certainly inhibits necessary working with professionals.’

    And there in a nutshell do you see why I continue to express such frustration at the activities of Booker, Hemming, Fassit et al. The more hysterical hyperbole about the ‘family court gulags’, the more parents like this who will adopt a siege mentality to the ultimate detriment of their case.

    I do not deny that there are problems in the system which need urgent attention. But it does not help anyone to have the pendulum of blame swinging 100% to ‘evil social workers/psychologists’ etc, etc. Parents must also consider their responsibility for the dynamics of the relationship between them and professionals.

    Reply
    1. C

      I was upbraided by social services for saying that the owner of the nursery ( who they had told I threatened to burn down) was ‘paranoid’… They claimed that it was a medical term that should only be used when their had been a formal diagnosis.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        Well, that is a little precious. Its a word I think a lot of us bandy about and we all know what we mean by it. But I concede that if a word is used to provide a clear medical diagnosis, we ought to be careful using it if we don’t have the expertise or knowledge to make that diagnosis.

        Reply
        1. C

          I state what I was told, and what was written in our complaint report as an example of the insidious ways in which Social Services undermine sense. Here is what the report said: (Sections in italics are demonstrably untrue.)
          He said that the [nursery] managers were
          anxious not only about whether they had acted correctly in contacting ….
          ….. and in deciding that there should be a formal referral, but also because the
          owner/manager lives above the nursery and was very worried about the alleged
          threat to set fire to the premises.
          The correspondence from [nursery] suggests also that they were angry on
          a number of counts.
          The word paranoia suggests that the individuals concerned cannot listen to
          reason but in talking to staff at Social Services with the purpose of trying to find out if this
          could be the case, I did not find any evidence for it.
          The complainants suggest that they used the word paranoia because of the [nursery]
          manager’s perception of the alleged threat to burn the nursery, and CP
          discussed this in detail during interview. This is why I asked people if they thought
          that this was the case and I was told that this was not an accurate perception. The
          correspondence suggests that the owner was very angry both with CSC
          and the complainants.

          To clarify: I made no threat to burn down the nursery. Social Services told the nursery I had, and then lied about this. This was later disproved via police investigation.

          The nursery did not ‘decide to make a formal referral’; they were told that they had to.

          This is ‘evil social worker’ in action; deliberately misrepresenting, even when it gains nothing.

          Reply
          1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Disclaimer: I know you have had a very bad experience with your local children’s services. I too have seen comparable examples of stupidity and buck passing. I hope I have demonstrated that I am willing and able to listen to arguments that challenge my stated position.

            BUT what I think is happening here is a prime example of the dangers of a starting point that SW are corruptly intent on taking a baby. Thus all behaviour of the father is seen through a particular lense, his behaviours excused or minimised as the justifiable wrath of a frightened father, fighting for his family. That is not what I take from the judgment at all. I see considerable efforts made to assess and support the family – the Jeffes report, about which the father is so unhappy, appears to be very positive about the mother!

            I have no doubt he felt and feels extremely strong emotions for his family. But whether it is right to call these feelings ‘love’ is another matter. ‘Love’ as I understand it, is putting the needs and wants of another as of equal or greater importance than your own. What this father demonstrates is that his own sense of entitlement is what he will prioritise at every turn.

            That is my reading and interpretation in any event. About which I am always open to challenge, I hope. But I have read this judgment carefully and cannot see that it bears the weight of malignity you seek to impose upon it.

          2. Charlie

            I agree he has no love for anyone other than himself. Peaches Geldof is another example of someone with no love for family, only a love for themselves.

            I hope the mother knows enough to get out of a toxic relationship with a such an abusive partner. At some point he is going to find an outlet for his murderous rage and I just hope it is not her. Frankly, if they had anymore kids they would be put into care due to his nature anyway.

          3. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            I think that is rather cruel and unfair to Peaches Geldof. From what I read, she never really recovered from the death of her mother when she was 11. It is hardly surprising that she possibly took refuge in drugs – many do, when faced with emotional pain. She certainly seemed to have a very genuine love and commitment to her boys. Her death was very sad.

            And I wouldn’t overhype the father’s rage – it’s not murderous, as far as I know he hasn’t intended to kill anyone. But the impact of his anger on his children as they grow has the potential to be very serious indeed. So this, coupled with the mother’s own acknowledged difficulties, makes me think that the care order was the right order in this case.

          4. Charlie

            I am sure she had strong emotions toward her family, but it was not love. You had it right the first time, “Whether it is right to call these feelings ‘love’ is another matter. ‘Love’ as I understand it, is putting the needs and wants of another as of equal or greater importance than your own.”. She put her wants other the needs of those close to her.

            Just because something bad happened in the past does not condone bad behavior.

          5. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            She lost her mother suddenly when she was 11 years old. it sounds like she coped the best way she could. I am sure she didn’t want to die and leave her sons motherless. She tried, she failed. If that provokes any other emotion than sadness, that’s a matter for you and not something I can understand.

          6. Charlie

            The Father from what I understand threatened to kill a social worker. I would have taken that threat seriously. I am grateful that the children were rescued, however who is going to rescue the mother. I would hope the courts would take action and test to see if the mother has an understanding of marriage and if not separate them.

  8. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    From the judgment:

    The father then gave evidence and became very emotional. He accepted his mistakes. He accepted that he had himself to blame. He described how dishonoured he felt by his involvement with Social Services. He begged Judge Mellanby to give him a chance to keep an appointment with whoever was recommended Judge Mellanby thought it should be Dr McLintock, an adult psychiatrist. She described that the father was still quick to criticise Social Services, whom he described as having stolen his child, but she found his outpouring of grief and distress genuine and said that she thought that the hearing had gone some way towards him understanding for the first time that he is his own worst enemy and that he has only himself to blame if he destroys his own life, not to mention his son’s. ‘

    What a shame. If he hadn’t (I assume) fallen in with the Fassit lot and taken their ‘advice’ maybe things could have been very different for his family.

    Reply
    1. C

      It seems iniquitous to make the child suffer ‘for the sins of the father’, in taking advice from Fassit – if that is what he did. It is not as if there is much other advice on how to handle Social Services out there… Certainly nothing honest provided by Social Workers. I know that this site is a creditable effort to change that severe lack. But I fail to see how this judgement is ‘in the best interests of the child.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        It’s an interesting question isn’t it? Did Fassit drive him mad, or did he go to Fassit because he was already mad? Probably a bit of both. DISCLAIMER – I don’t know if he did go to Fassit. But the kind of stuff he was spouting chimes pretty well with their mindset, so my money is on him being in contact with them.

        I think where you and I disagree is that I don’t see this case turning on just one or two isolated incidents of understandable anger from the father, resulting from provocation or insensitive approaches to his religious sensibilities. He comes across in the majority of his actions – refusing immunisation for e.g., refusing to name the youngest child etc, – as motivated more by belligerent entitlement than any insight into what children need to grow into emotionally healthy adults.

        But of course I accept as per your earlier comment, all participants in a relationship share responsibility for its dynamic. I am sure that things could have been handled better or differently at times. Whether or not that would have made a difference, is a more difficult question.

        Reply
        1. C

          I do not know what reason he had for refusing immunisation. Except perhaps that it was being demanded by social services. But the refusal to name the child is because he did not want Social Services to be present at a Hindu naming ceremony, as it would have been ‘polluting’ – and in so doing, it would have negated the blessings of the naming ceremony, and effectively cursed his son. I realise Hinduism may seem bizarre, and perhaps primitive superstition – but it is no more so than wine turning into blood, or humankind being forgiven via the substitution of a scapegoat.

          From what I have heard from people who know the father, he is a very different person when he is not around social services – and is not aggressive. He is very loving and considerate to both the mother and son.

          Reply
          1. C

            He does call rather a lot of people paedophiles… particularly the police. I don’t know what evidence he has for this.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            I would guess none or presumably he would be sharing it with Booker et al? Unfortunately this goes on my list of warnings against credibility, along with over use of ‘!’. Which may be fantastically unfair. He may be telling the truth. But the point I keep making here and elsewhere, is the more you gloss your points with ‘gulag’, ‘nazi, ‘paedophile’ etc, etc, the easier you make it for others to dismiss you as mentally unwell.

          3. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            I think the ‘religious sensibilities’ approach is not helpful here. Our behaviour is not any less cruel or stupid because we pray in aid a religious text which tells us what to do.

          4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Which is possibly a very sad example of what happens when relationships between parents and professionals become so polluted. He will act in angry and aggressive way around SW, this reinforcing their negative view, repeat ad infinitum.

            What is so enraging, is that this is precisely the kind of tactic advocated by Hemming,Josephs, FASSIT et al – don’t co-operate, fight the child stealing bastards every step of the way etc. Which almost guarantees that the parents will lose their children and which is why I hold these individuals and organisations in such contempt.

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        So not utterly bonkers then. Should have gone to prison with that many indecent images on his computer. Sigh. The Establishment really aren’t helping me in my crusade to show that not every professional is a corrupt Nazi paedohpile.

        Reply
        1. C

          Crusades have never had a particularly good press. After massacring, then piling up the Christ murdering corpses in order to burn them and then rake through the coals to discover if any had swallowed gold… things went downhill.

          Here the Indian elephant in the room still remains whether the judgment of going for adoption in this case can be said to be an option ‘of last resort’. As opposed to exasperation.
          In the first case, the father agreed – albeit at the final hour – to a psychiatric assessment with Dr. McLintock.

          From the judgment:( bold added – to indicate the Hindu perspective, italics to indicate the judge’s apparent failure to appreciate it)
          He accepted his mistakes. He accepted that he had himself to blame. He described how dishonoured he felt by his involvement with Social Services. He begged Judge Mellanby to give him a chance to keep an appointment with whoever was recommended Judge Mellanby thought it should be Dr McLintock, an adult psychiatrist. She described that the father was still quick to criticise Social Services, whom he described as having stolen his child, but she found his outpouring of grief and distress genuine and said that she thought that the hearing had gone some way towards him understanding for the first time that he is his own worst enemy and that he has only himself to blame if he destroys his own life, not to mention his son’s.

          This looks like reason for mitigation to me. And it did to Judge Mellanby. However:

          From the judgment: Dr McLintock … formed the view that the father’s behaviour was not amenable to change. He did not diagnose any specific psychiatric condition but the father’s personality was such that he was ‘stuck’ in this form of behaviour. The judge said ‘Sadly for J I can find no evidence to give me any cause to believe that the father can and will cooperate and work with Social Services for the good of his son’.

          So – no mental health issues – except non-cooperation! This deserves its exclamation mark.

          From the judgment: Dr McLintock’s view was that the father ‘does not present as a man who is going to make meaningful changes in his perception of certain professionals or change the manner in which he would be able to work with them.’

          …More culturally intelligent to say the Hindu world view does not allow for a human being to escape karmic law, only to respond to its demands. And to remain true to his perception of justice.

          A suggestion that springs to mind here is, what about allocating the family a Hindu social worker? That would sidestep the prejudices of ‘certain professionals’ who displayed no understanding of the importance of the Hindu naming ceremony, and the prejudice of the father who possibly had grounds for considering the social workers ‘racists’. If it is really all about ‘the best interests of the child’ then this seems a small step in that direction.

          …But at this point the fact that the mother is 8 months pregnant with her next child and has been concealing the pregnancy from Social Services becomes apparent – and this is further evidence of non-cooperation.

          From the judgment: …the father was prepared to access necessary help that would be on his terms through a Family Assistance Order preferably through an independent social worker.

          He indicated a willingness to cooperate with assistance, just not with the Local Authority, who were the people arguing in court that his child should be taken. This is understandable, and goes to the heart of Lynne Wrennall’s thesis that care and child protection are by their nature incompatible.

          From the judgment: Judge Mellanby concluded that despite all the positives the emotional damage to which J would be exposed by the father’s uncompromising and dangerous behaviour towards professionals was so serious and so significant that there was no option left other than to remove J permanently from his parents’ care and permit the local authority to place him in an adoptive placement.

          I fail to see how anger and non-cooperation is deserving of a sentence (having one’s child removed ) that is harsher than the penalty for murder. Never mind the future that the child may be subjected to.

          A month later ‘Baby’ was born.

          From the judgment: Concerns were expressed there about the attitude and behaviour of the father. In the light of the findings made by Judge Mellanby proceedings were issued the day that Baby was born and an interim care order made by District Judge Rhodes at this court.
          … ….
          …the father indicated that he would or might make an application for a Dr Dale, independent social worker, to assess him, but did not proceed with this.

          Was he given any encouragement in proceeding?

          Next we come to the father’s refusal to go ahead with immunisations.

          From the judgment: There was also a continuing difficulty about immunisations and again for the same reason; the father would not permit the baby to be immunised because he wanted to be there in order to comfort Baby, although Baby does not know him at all, because the father is not prepared to agree to contact on the local authority’s terms.

          Why shouldn’t he be there to comfort his child? He was not allowed to be, because Social Services felt that they had to be there, and understandably the relationship between the family and them had broken down.

          Was this really insurmountable? Did they really need to be there?

          From the judgment:

          As in respect of so many aspects of this case the father’s view is always a matter of principle rather than a question of a practical evaluation as to what is in the best interests of his son.

          ..Once again one detects a failure to appreciate the cultural dishonour that is integral to a certain style of Hinduism. Principle is karmicly important; compromise is shaming. By sticking to principle, the father feels he is showing a good example to his son, and to the community. The families honour remains unsullied. While this may appear stupid from a western cultural perspective, it also reveals a radical intolerance of the other’s viewpoint at the centre of our supposedly tolerant society.

          Again, the matter might have been resolved by some intelligent, as opposed to pretended, compromise on the part of the Local Authority: the allocation of a Hindu social worker, or the acceptance of an independent one.

          From the judgment: I agree with Mr O’Brien for the local authority that in some respects the father’s attitude has hardened rather than softened in the six and a half months since the final order was made in respect of J. He has made a number of accusations essentially of conspiracy.

          Obviously the father is not perfect. I find many of his attitudes unsavoury. But I find it impossible to conceive that this placement is one of last resort, when so little cultural flexibility has been shown.

          Reply
          1. C

            From the judgement: …the father would not permit the baby to be immunised because he wanted to be there in order to comfort Baby, although Baby does not know him at all, because the father is not prepared to agree to contact on the local authority’s terms.

            This is a very worrying phrase in the judgment, as it implies that there is no intrinsic relationship between natural parent and small child, and that the father has no hope of building on into the future. What parent would not comprehend the father’s desire to be there to comfort the child? It is perverse to use this as an argument against him, when really once again the only problem is non-compliance with Social Services world view.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Here you have neatly encapsulated the problem of two different views coming head up against each other. The problem is emphatically NOT simply ‘non-compliance with SS world view’. The baby would have no idea who the father was. This is a tragedy I agree, but its a fact. The baby would not know the father’s smell, his voice. The baby would see the father as a stranger and react as such. The baby would not therefore find the father’s presence remotely comforting; possibly the opposite.

            Yes you can legitimately rail against the circumstances that came to pass to mean a baby wouldn’t know his own father. However, you cannot legitimately rail against the fact that this father could not possibly be any kind of ‘comfort’ to this baby. And inisisting on his physical presence before he would agree to a medical procedure that most right thinking people would agree was in the child’s best interests, demonstrates a complete failure of insight into what the child needs. it demonstrates very selfish and self centred priorities; the only person who the father can think about is himself.

            and this isn’t just ‘social services world view’ and to categorise it as such does your argument no favours.

          3. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            The problem for me is that you insist on categorising what happened here as ‘So – no mental health issues – except non-cooperation! This deserves its exclamation mark’

            When I think the problems go way beyond simply non co-operation. the biggest red flag for me is that he attacked a social worker in front of (or very near to) his partner and child. If he is this violent and unboundaried in public, then a legitimate question and fear is raised about what he would do in private.

            I think your analysis then flows from this initial categorisation, which I reject, so I am afraid I cannot engage with it. I am also very uneasy with permitting arguments about ‘religious honour’ to gain a footing. It’s this feeling of ‘dishonour’ that gives a cultural green light to fathers to kill their daughters for dating men they don’t like, or throwing acid in the face of women who reject them. I am very, very uneasy with your phrase ‘cultural flexibility’. Actions which hurt children should never be approached from a position of ‘cultural flexibility’ – or where do you draw the line? It’s ok to beat your child as your religion demands? Kill your child for dishonouring your family, as your religion demands?

            I hold all religions in equal contempt but I am particularly uneasy about the religions which operate from a starting point of patriarchal supremacy (i.e. nearly all of them) and I don’t think there should be any foothold in the law for giving people ‘extra credit’ for feeling ‘dishonoured’.

            I am sure the SW felt quite dishonoured at being punched repeatedly in the face at court.

  9. C

    Did he ‘attack’ a social worker…? I’m not sure that attack is the most accurate description of what happened. I just don’t know – but I don’t trust the judgments.

    From the beginning of the judgment: ‘… judgment given in open court, in part to address misleading allegations made about professionals by father.’

    The bbc link to the head of legal services being charged with having 5700 pornographic images on his computer and his admission that he was attracted sexually to children, shows that the father had some justification in at least some of his allegations. Thus the claim from the judge that the allegations were ‘misleading’ is misleading in itself.

    Further, with reference to the allegations made by the father about the independent assessment, and in the context of whether they may be said to be misleading – it is interesting to examine the post and the comments beneath in :
    http://suesspiciousminds.com/2014/12/04/baby-without-a-name-child-removed-because-of-fathers-aggression-towards-social-workers

    – in which there is generally agreement that Linda Jeffes being on a retainer from Hertfordshire County Council of £82,800 p.a. raises serious questions about her independence as an expert.

    ..but perhaps most interesting is the outraged comment posted there by the mother, who has a substantially different view to the judge. She seems to feel that there is much in the judgment that is ‘misleading’:

    Mother’s comment: Look listen im the mother to these children I really think u all need to read and listen to the fukin truth first then make ur comments. WE HAVE NEVER HURT OUR CHILDREN. WE DIDNT REFUSE TO NAME OUR BABY. THE SOCIAL WORKER WOUNDNT LET US. YES WE ARE HINDU AND THE SOCIAL WORKER REFUSED THE RIGHT FOR US TO HAVE A NAMING CEMONRY. AND THATS WHY HE HASBT BEEN NAMED. ALSO I HAVE NO FUKIN LEARNING DISABILTY. THE SOCIAL WORKER REFUSED ME TO BREASTFED MY SON. REFUSED TO PUT MY PARTNERS NAME ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE. ALSO WENT AHEAD AND REGISTERED THE BIRTH.

    **************

    I don’t have much time for organised religion either, but I don’t think personal opinions should enter into it here.
    My sense is the the father was ‘wound up’ unnecessarily by the repeated implication that he was unable to care for his wife and family. While I don’t condone the violence – I feel that with a less dogmatic and inflexible attitude from Social Services it could easily have been avoided. By the time the father lost it completely, and punched the social worker, I get the sense that he thought it was definitely a ‘done deal’; that his children were already lost to him. The alleged ‘attack’ took place after a further interim care order had been issued, and it was issued on the basis of evidence from the social worker that, for instance, the father had refused them access to the flat the day before. He had allegedly barged into the father; according to one comment, several witnesses saw the father fight back in self -defence after being struck…

    What is clear is that by the stage of the proceedings, the father had been massively provoked by the actions of the LA. The mother’s first child had been taken long before the father in this case had a relationship with her, o the recommendation of Linda Jeffes… Their child, J, whom they undoubtedly love, had marks and bruises after his period in foster care. He was reported to have fallen down the stairs. They ask, reasonably enough, why weren’t there stair gates? The supposedly independent assessment appeared to have been ‘bought’. Ryder LJ’s opinion that there was no conflict of interest because the parents chose not to cross-examine Linda Jeffes, is inadequate: it is just as likely that they had given up any hope of receiving justice.

    As Michael Cox comments: ‘Mr Patel’s visceral and uncontrolled hostility, I can completely understand – his new-born child was removed from his wife’s breast shortly after birth in hospital by social workers, supported by 20 police officers.’
    Plenty more had taken place. …The parents had asked the Local Authority to give them a copy of the bundle and the Local Authority had refused. Only the day before the S/w’s appear to have laid siege to the parents flat in order to try and gain entrance…

    From LJ Ryder judgment:

    So far as father is concerned, he is described as being an unquantified and unassessed risk. He is regarded as being dangerous and is suspected of having a psychiatric or psychological trait / personality disorder that is not amenable to change. That may be right. This court at least needs to scrutinise the evidence given its importance. He is the essential support for the mother, if the psychological opinion relating to her care capability stands. It is said that he is unable to work with professionals and he has assaulted a social worker and those are conclusions of fact that appear to be very secure – there is a conviction for the latter incident. But does that mean he is unable to support the mother and is he a risk to his child?

    A conclusion that someone is ‘unquantified’ as a risk is meaningless. We are all unquantified in the absence of evidence and it is for the local authority to prove its case. He was certainly a risk to professionals but not according to the judges to the mother. Was he a risk to his child? The evidence relating to that is not yet known to this court save that which can be gleaned from the judgments. That suggests that he was condemned as being an emotional risk to his child because he had no insight into how his behaviour with professionals might affect his child. That is circular. If there is no need for professional input because he can provide the support for the mother then his reaction to professionals does not prevent him caring for a child or supporting the mother in that task.

    …Given the impasse here; is it impossible to conceive that the S/W might have deliberately provoked the angry outburst from the father in court, by barging into him, in order to be able to demonstrate to the court that the father was a risk to his child?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Let’s try to break it down and get something positive out of this. I think we have identified some useful issues for the discussion part of the conference:

      The bbc link to the head of legal services being charged with having 5700 pornographic images on his computer and his admission that he was attracted sexually to children, shows that the father had some justification in at least some of his allegations. Thus the claim from the judge that the allegations were ‘misleading’ is misleading in itself.

      I agree that this kind of issue should not be swept under carpet, as we as a society seem to have a historical genius for so doing. I hope the child sex abuse inquiry (if it ever gets off the ground) might provide ground work for a more open and honest appraisal of the risks some people pose, even people in positions of trust and authority. But I am not sure you can then given the father a green light to accuse ALL who work for the LA as being paedodphiles.

      which there is generally agreement that Linda Jeffes being on a retainer from Hertfordshire County Council of £82,800 p.a. raises serious questions about her independence as an expert

      Yes, this needs looking at. I can understand why this troubles people. As a general point if you doubt the independence of an expert you need to raise that issue at the earliest opportunity. You need to cross examine that expert at the final hearing, don’t fail to challenge him/her and then try to appeal on the basis of bias. You will get absolutely nowhere. Of all the stupid and dangerous advice Fassit et al give, this is the most stupid and dangerous.

      ..WE HAVE NEVER HURT OUR CHILDREN. WE DIDNT REFUSE TO NAME OUR BABY. THE SOCIAL WORKER WOUNDNT LET US. YES WE ARE HINDU AND THE SOCIAL WORKER REFUSED THE RIGHT FOR US TO HAVE A NAMING CEMONRY. AND THATS WHY HE HASBT BEEN NAMED. ALSO I HAVE NO FUKIN LEARNING DISABILTY. THE SOCIAL WORKER REFUSED ME TO BREASTFED MY SON. REFUSED TO PUT MY PARTNERS NAME ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE. ALSO WENT AHEAD AND REGISTERED THE BIRTH.

      Its not quite that simple is it? ‘never hurt’ – refused to accept that a child could be hurt by seeing/hearing violence. To be refused a religious naming ceremony is not sufficient reason to fail to name a child for 8 months. And it wasn’t refused was it? The SW wanted to be there. I appreciate this would have gone down like a cup of cold sick for the parents, but it is simply not right to say the ceremony was ‘refused’.

      I don’t have much time for organised religion either, but I don’t think personal opinions should enter into it here
      So whose opinions do I use? My comtempt for organised religion is my personal view and one I keep separate from my professional life, conscious as I am of the laws preventing me from discriminating against people on the grounds of religion. But this issue of whether I must then be ‘culturally flexible’ with regard to standards of child protection is one I reject – as a personal view, founded (sadly) on an enormous amount of evidence about how the majority of religions end up being interpreted – in a way which often does enormous damage to the rights and autonomy of children and women.

      My sense is the the father was ‘wound up’ unnecessarily by the repeated implication that he was unable to care for his wife and family. While I don’t condone the violence – I feel that with a less dogmatic and inflexible attitude from Social Services it could easily have been avoided.
      This is an interesting issue and one which I hope to explore at the Nordic Conference this June. There is room for further debate about the dynamic of the relationship between parent and social workers which sadly can so often degenerate into toxicity – and both contribute to this. I have noticed with interest how cases where parents are helped by Kids Company for e.g., cases often have a much happier outcome. I think this is largely to do with the problem of the SW being asked to investigate how to support a family at the same time they investigate how to keep a family apart, identified by Lynne Wrennall (and many others).

      What is clear is that by the stage of the proceedings, the father had been massively provoked by the actions Ryder LJ’s opinion that there was no conflict of interest because the parents chose not to cross-examine Linda Jeffes, is inadequate: it is just as likely that they had given up any hope of receiving justice. There is legitimate concern that he acted as he did regardless of degree of provocation, but I agree – parents should not feel they are being ‘provoked’. I repeat the advice I gave earlier because it is so important; YOU MUST CHALLENGE EVIDENCE AT THE FINAL HEARING. To sit back and say, o its all corrupt and hopeless I won’t bother, is insane. I can give you the names of 100s of barristers/solcitors who would very much enjoy tackling an incompetent expert in cross examination. If you wait until after the final hearing to complain about the state of the evidence, this is an utterly futile exercise.

      Plenty more had taken place. …The parents had asked the Local Authority to give them a copy of the bundle and the Local Authority had refused. Only the day before the S/w’s appear to have laid siege to the parents flat in order to try and gain entrance…
      This underscores the need to get a good lawyer as soon as possible. Parents MUST know and understand the case against them. They MUST have access to the documents. If the LA refuse this is unlawful, bring them to account, sue them for damages. Don’t simply retreat into a fortress of non co-operation.

      A conclusion that someone is ‘unquantified’ as a risk is meaningless. We are all unquantified in the absence of evidence and it is for the local authority to prove its case. He was certainly a risk to professionals but not according to the judges to the mother. Was he a risk to his child? The evidence relating to that is not yet known to this court save that which can be gleaned from the judgments. That suggests that he was condemned as being an emotional risk to his child because he had no insight into how his behaviour with professionals might affect his child. That is circular. If there is no need for professional input because he can provide the support for the mother then his reaction to professionals does not prevent him caring for a child or supporting the mother in that task.
      Two things here I think. I agree to call anyone a ‘unquantified risk’ is just stupid. I think the best you can do is put people in one of three categories – low, medium and high. No one is no risk. If you are unable on the evidence before you to put someone into any category, then you have to accept your evidence is pretty useless. With regard to your comment that bad behaviour towards professionals should not equate to risk to a child, here we have the nub of the issue that proved so difficult in Re B – and you will note Lady Hale’s disagreement with the majority in the Supreme Court. I can see where they are coming from. Being a parent and living in mainstream society involves you coming into contact with a great many people, some of whom will be ‘professionals’ and some of whom you will need to engage with for the good of your child – doctors, teachers etc. If you can’t manage these relationships well or even at all, this does pose a risk of harm to your child. But I agree this issue gets tricky because you start to unpick what we actually mean by ‘tolerance of diversity’ as a society. I agree with the Home Educators for e.g. that they are often regarded with suspicion by those in ‘authority’ – as are sadly most people who chose to live in a more ‘eccentric’ or less mainstream way. I agree this is an issue ripe for discussion and it would probably be very helpful to gather together those cases where the risk of harm has been identified as the parents’ ‘anti authoritarian views’.

      …Given the impasse here; is it impossible to conceive that the S/W might have deliberately provoked the angry outburst from the father in court, by barging into him, in order to be able to demonstrate to the court that the father was a risk to his child? Of course its not impossible. I know there are SW – and doctors and lawyers – who have lied, behaved appallingly and been struck off their professional registers. But are these people the majority of their profession? No, they are not. Should our first position be to assume that the SW deliberately ‘set up’ the father? No, it should not.

      Reply
    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      But, I have to say I strongly agree with this comment from Ryder LJ:

      The significance of the father’s conduct is not that his children were removed because he had the temerity to argue with the local authority: to put it in that way misses the point. The welfare issue that was legitimately pursued by the local authority was that father’s antagonistic and unco-operative behaviour was indulged in by him to the detriment of his children.

      Reply
  10. C

    Thanks for engaging with me on this to the extent that you have. It was been very helpful to me to see the barrister’s/legal perspective. I agree with you that FASSIT’s ‘never explain, never complain’ exhortation, is not helpful at all – if one is trying to engage with a system that relies on complaint and explanation to operate.

    I must agree that the quote that you highlight from LJ Ryder is germane. …But I have a problem with the fact that the way the welfare issue was pursued has legitimacy, since I am convinced that the ‘antagonistic’ behaviour was provoked, and the role of Social Care should not be that of ‘agent provocateur’.

    There might be room here for a philosophical dissertation on the link between the heroine Antigone’s name and the word antagonist: and considering how Sophocles deals with the question as to whether Creon or Antigone is the ‘primum mobile’ for the tragedy that befalls in his play… The point in regard to this case is to understand what generates what: does Social Services inflexible attitude generate the violence, and therefore bear some responsibility for it. Can ‘violence’ ( in the sense of the revelation of the father’s violence, and the subsequent justification for the previous violent removal of the child) be said to be Social Care desired outcome? Or was the violence inherent, and Social Care only and inevitably reacting to it? If the latter is true, then this is a tragic case; if the former, the misfortunes were avoidable, and Social Services as agency of care, must be held culpable. As must the ‘independent’ witness they employed. Anyway…

    I don’t believe FASSIT have any wish to engage. Their stance is closer to that of the Common man’, which is of course ridiculous from a bewigged legal perspective.

    I suppose that, like Robin Hood, and many other idealistic do-gooders, FASSIT are refusing to recognise the authority of the Sherif. Unfortunately this behaviour cannot be seen as in the best interests of any individual child or adult, only perhaps in furthering their cause. The more sacrifice, the more suffering, the more their position is justified. In that respect FASSIT shares a lot of its vehemence with religion… Becoming a poster boy or girl for a cause has in the past frequently resulted in hanging from the nearest tree, and always results in being hung out to dry. It seems solipsistic of FASSIT not to make this clear to the parents that they advise.

    However, I stick to my belief that the way to stop the radicalism of FASSIT or Hemming is to create a more just system. Then despair and its irrational cohorts would not seem an appropriate response to involvement with Social Services.
    You suggest that the majority of Social Workers are good, responsible people doing an important job. If so, they are a very silent majority complicit in an awful lot of injustice. (In this regard comparing them to Nazis seem entirely fair; many soldiers in the Wehrmacht disagreed profoundly with Nazism – in private – but professionally they carried the gun and pulled the trigger.)

    In the last 3 years during which I have observed Social Services in action, I have seen precious few examples of anything approaching what I would define as ‘Care’. In the few cases I have heard about, the good Social Worker often leaves, or is removed from their post by a manager who does not share their approach. What I have witnessed and experienced is far too much misrepresentation, betrayal, and trickery, made possible by the secrecy of the Family Court, and by callous political agendas. I think the fact that so few Social Workers, despite invitations, ever comment on this blog is evidence of how encircled their wagons have become around a pernicious central concept. One which does not have the best interests of the child at heart.

    Where is the Social Worker fairy godmother, Isabelle Trowler, on all this? Why is she not taking action to root out abuse that has become systemic?

    Where have the judges been, throughout the many years up until the recent decisions, like Re:B, etc. and the President’s pronouncements?

    In the particular case that we are discussing, the judge claims that the allegations of the father are misleading. But you agree that many of those allegations have at least some validity. Thus to call them misleading, and nothing more, could be described as partial.

    …I must agree with FASSIT that in most cases, trusting the system to represent the best interests of families, parents or children, and not to be paying for its independent opinions, is a fool’s game.

    …The fact the Core Assets, one of the largest suppliers of expert witnesses is also one of the country’s largest foster agencies, is one more example of how unhealthily incestuous the system has been allowed to become., and how little chance an ‘outsider’ has.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      You suggest that the majority of Social Workers are good, responsible people doing an important job. If so, they are a very silent majority complicit in an awful lot of injustice. (In this regard comparing them to Nazis seem entirely fair; many soldiers in the Wehrmacht disagreed profoundly with Nazism – in private – but professionally they carried the gun and pulled the trigger.)

      The difficulty that I have with this argument is that I do have direct and extensive experience of the system over 15 years. Assuming I work 40 weeks a year and do 2 new cases a week then in 15 years, at a conservative estimate I have experience of 80*15 = 1,200 separate cases. That is 80% for parents, 10% for LAs and 10% for guardians. In 15 years and at least 1,200 cases (but it is probably more) I have made allegations of bad faith against a LA in only 3 cases. That is 0.0025% – unless my arithmetic is embarrassingly faulty, which is always a possibility.

      I have said it before but I will say it again. Was I a)lucky? b)too stupid to notice what was really going on? c) or are the incidences of corruption much lower than many would argue?

      I simply do not see the levels of corruption and malignity that are alleged. I certainly reject with great force any lazy analogy with either the Nazis or Stalin. That to me suggests a wilful ignorance of historical facts and/or a terrible poverty of understanding. It is insulting to the victims of those regimes. It takes the argument no further forward, rather it drives it backwards.

      Reply
  11. C

    Another example justifying the father’s use of the term ‘paedophile’ to describe the police in Hertfordshire has come to light.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-30682126

    As for his persistent use of the term child abusers to describe the Social Workers involved in his case, this is because they fed beef products to his Hindu children, while he still had shared parental responsibility and in the full knowledge that the children were Hindu. This is tantamount to abuse, as it is denying the validity of their culture. It is also crass, if it wasn’t intentional, and malfeasance if it was. It is Chapter One in ‘How to wind up a Hindu?’ – after all, beef fat on the ammunition envelopes that sepoys were required to tear off with their teeth, has frequently been cited as the spark that lit the Indian Mutiny.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Sorry, but in the light of events in Paris today I am even less patient with cries of denying validity of culture/religion than usual. the less people got worked up about supernatural nonsense, the happier we would be as a species.

      Reply
  12. C

    It is not at all fair to compare the events in Paris to a lack of cultural consideration in feeding beef to a Hindu child! …and if there were any relationship, in terms of a lack of tolerance for other people’s cultural values and beliefs, the Social Workers would have to be aligned with the terrorists.
    Having reverence for cattle and what they provide to humanity, and therefore choosing not to eat them, is anyway not a supernatural belief, any more than vegetarianism is. It is abusive to feed a vegetarian’s child meat when they are in your care, and this is no different.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I bought my Muslim child minder a bag of gummy bears. Unbeknownst to me they contained pork gelatine. Does that make me abusive and insensitive? No. It illustrates how difficult it is to keep track of everyone’s sensitivities. To assume it is necessarily ‘abusive’ to feed a ‘vegetarian child’ meat is making so many assumptions from the outset. Particularly as the children in this case were far too young to be making informed choices about anything. They are not ‘vegetarian/Hindu’ children, they are children of vegetarian/Hindu parents. Ergo I can see how wires got crossed and people just didn’t realise about dietary restrictions. I reject any assertion that feeding the children beef was done deliberately and maliciously to ‘abuse’ them or their parents. Unless of course you can show me some evidence other than this assertion.

      Your perception of my comment as ‘unfair’ is your perception and one which I don’t share. The same blinkered murderous rage that prompted the killings in Paris (over a cartoon!) is certainly the same beast as the rage which propels the father in this case to royally stuff up his own case.

      This demand that I ‘tolerate’ other people’s sensitivities. Of course I do. I don’t rampage around killing them for having these sensitivities, or for disrespecting mine. But your definition of ‘tolerance’ seems to extend far beyond what I understand as the meaning of the word into offering my servile and uncritical respect for whatever rules other people insist on inflicting on their children.

      I appreciate the arguments for vegetarianism. But I didn’t think the father was making arguments for the ethical treatment of animals per se. His objections stemmed from religious/cultural sensitivities to one particular animal – the cow. If I am wrong about that, then I apologise as that is a deficiency in my understanding.

      Reply
  13. C

    I can see that the incident in Paris has upset you greatly, and I empathise. It is terrible, like all directed violence; I do not see why it is appreciably more awful than the barrel bombs being dropped over Aleppo, or many of the the drone strikes in Pakistan or Afghanistan. We live in dark times, under the aegis of multicultural tolerance.

    I bought my Muslim child minder a bag of gummy bears. Unbeknownst to me they contained pork gelatine. Does that make me abusive and insensitive? …Inconsiderate, maybe. (You only have to turn the packet over and read the ingredients.)

    ‘They are not ‘vegetarian/Hindu’ children, they are children of vegetarian/Hindu parents.’ Parents who share parental responsibility with Social Care. The children are not required to make ‘informed choices’ because they should be being cared for until they reach the age where they can.

    ‘I reject any assertion that feeding the children beef was done deliberately and maliciously to ‘abuse’ them or their parents.’ I agree it is more likely it was done without due care: but due care is exactly what we should expect, and frequently don’t get, from Social Care. And if they breach their role, they are abusing it.

    ‘The same blinkered murderous rage that prompted the killings in Paris…’ you are in danger here of lumping all dark skinned ‘others’ into the same melting pot of prejudice. What evidence do you have that it is the ‘same’? Did the terrorists have their children taken from them when they had done nothing but care for them?

    ‘…servile and uncritical respect for whatever rules other people insist on inflicting on their children.’

    These are strong terms to use in condemning a dietary restriction. What if someone had an allergy to nuts – and they were fed nuts due to lack of care, whilst in your care? Would that be abusive? One would have thought that it would at least merit an apology.

    In Social Care’s refusal to respect the Hindu naming ceremony the family wished to have for their child, and in feeding them without due regard to their religious laws, when the family have strongly asserted the importance of their beliefs to Social Care, they are showing a lack of care. It is an abuse of their position.

    Yes, Hindu objections stem from a particular appreciation of the cow, as the docile, long-suffering provider of milk, cheese, yoghourt, leather to mankind. And to be considerate of their choice is not the same as ‘servile and uncritical respect’ – it is simply consideration.

    Anyway, what about the Hertfordshire policeman now on trial for underage rape? I appreciate that presently they are mere allegations that CPS consider strong enough to prosecute. But he joins another who has been prosecuted for possession of 5,700 underage pornographic images.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      ‘I do not see why it is appreciably more awful than the barrel bombs being dropped over Aleppo, or many of the the drone strikes in Pakistan or Afghanistan. We live in dark times, under the aegis of multicultural tolerance.’
      I agree. It is just as enormous a blight upon the dignity of humanity to murder children in Pakistan using drones. I agree that the foreign ‘policies’ of the US bear a heavy weight of responsibility for some of the hatred now directed their way. BUT murdering cartoonists for a cartoon, other members of the intelligensia now cowering and afraid is a particular type of evil that particularly pushes my buttons. Other people’s superstitions are theirs and theirs alone. I will leave you free to believe in them, you refrain from killing me if I want to mock you.

      ‘I bought my Muslim child minder a bag of gummy bears. Unbeknownst to me they contained pork gelatine. Does that make me abusive and insensitive? …Inconsiderate, maybe. (You only have to turn the packet over and read the ingredients.)’
      I assumed that only gelatine from cows hooves was ever used in sweets. I had never heard of pork in gelatine. I am afraid it didn’t even occur to me to check the ingredients. My child minder did and was perfectly nice about it. She didn’t try to kill me for my gross cultural insensitivity.

      ‘I reject any assertion that feeding the children beef was done deliberately and maliciously to ‘abuse’ them or their parents.’ I agree it is more likely it was done without due care: but due care is exactly what we should expect, and frequently don’t get, from Social Care. And if they breach their role, they are abusing it.’
      Use of the word ‘abuse’ is just not helpful here as it implies a degree of malignity which I don’t think exists.

      ‘The same blinkered murderous rage that prompted the killings in Paris…’ you are in danger here of lumping all dark skinned ‘others’ into the same melting pot of prejudice. What evidence do you have that it is the ‘same’? Did the terrorists have their children taken from them when they had done nothing but care for them?
      Hmmm. Interesting. You mentioned ‘dark skin’. I did not. My contempt for the religious has nothing to do with the shade of their skin. Your interpretation of this comment is odd. I am talking of superstitious rage, the fear of being made to look ‘silly’. These are wretchedly common human characteristics that have nothing to do with skin colour. I agree entirely with David Aaronivitch in today’s Times and his talk of ‘cretinous notions’. It is a cretinous notion to believe that your God gives a ‘fart in a gale’ about whether or not you eat pork, beef or murder cartoonists.

      ‘These are strong terms to use in condemning a dietary restriction. What if someone had an allergy to nuts – and they were fed nuts due to lack of care, whilst in your care? Would that be abusive? One would have thought that it would at least merit an apology’
      That’s because I am not using them against dietary restrictions in isolation but against primitive supersititons as a whole. I think you need to draw a necessary distinction between eating something that might kill you and eating something that a desert tribe a few thousand years ago warned you against in those days pre-refrigeration.

      ‘In Social Care’s refusal to respect the Hindu naming ceremony the family wished to have for their child, and in feeding them without due regard to their religious laws, when the family have strongly asserted the importance of their beliefs to Social Care, they are showing a lack of care. It is an abuse of their position.’
      I agree with the importance of sensitivity and consideration – to a degree. Yes, there almost certainly could have been better or indeed any respect shown to the families wishes about what food their children ate. But if the LA fell down in that regard, to immediately descend into frothing rage about ‘abuse’ is not helping anyone. My first hand experience of LA is that they try very, very hard to place children in religious and culturally sensitive placements and it is very difficult, particularly because of a distinct lack of Muslim foster parents.

      I had one Somali family who were very very upset that their child was placed with a Pakistani women. Her culture was nothing like their culture they opined and I agree. But they had stiptulated a Muslim placement and this was all the LA had. Was this too ‘abuse’? Or doing the best they could in difficult circumstances?

      ‘Anyway, what about the Hertfordshire policeman now on trial for underage rape? I appreciate that presently they are mere allegations that CPS consider strong enough to prosecute. But he joins another who has been prosecuted for possession of 5,700 underage pornographic images.’
      And what about him? Men who rape and abuse children are all over the world, in every town, in every profession. What particular relevance does this case have?

      Reply
  14. C

    Hinduism is not a primitive superstition. It emerged from an established civilisation with a much older tradition than the west, and considerably more advanced in philosophy, literature, mathematics, astronomy, than their contemporaries.. I think you may be conflating your notions of Islam and Christianity ( which did both emerge from prescriptive desert tribes…) with what you know about Hinduism. ( I am inferring this from the way you speak about God, as mono-theistic, and your statement about desert tribes and the lack of refridgeration.) Hinduism is actually a basket load of different philosophies grouped together by colonists and called Hinduism b them, because they shared certain characteristics – a particular one being that they were not Islam. They derive from the Vedas, which the reason cows are venerated is because they are sacred metaphors for love and surrender: they give themselves totally to mankind. Depending on how you perceive Hindusim, there are countless gods, deities that are ‘personifications’ of states of consciousness, or else none, save Atman, the original breath before being, that generated being, and split into the trinity of Brahma (Originator) -Vishnu (Sustainer) -Shiva (Destroyer). Anyway, this is not the place to lecture on a sophisticated alternative civilisation response to consciousness… and I have no idea of the brand of Hinduism practiced by the Patels. Nor am I a Hindu. I do not wear a sacred thread.

    It seems ‘cretinous’ to assume so much about the kind of Hinduism that the Patels practice when it seems clear you know very little about the philosophical structure of Hinduism: perhaps they are indeed superstitious. I prefer to view Hindu practice as a complex web of ceremonial metaphor, all of which is directed back towards a meditative understanding of the whole and the individuals connection to it. Tat tvam asi. (…this means ‘You are that.’)

    I will say that placing Hindu children with Muslim foster carers would be the ultimate stupidity. And would been seen as a supreme insult by Hindu parents, who have never forgiven their Mughal overlords.

    Much earlier in this extravagant discussion you said – when we were speaking about the father’s refusal to have the child immunised as he was not allowed to be present to comfort him, you said:

    The baby would have no idea who the father was. This is a tragedy I agree, but its a fact. The baby would not know the father’s smell, his voice.

    This betrays the Western scient-ist stance that you claim elsewhere. I appreciate that you will probably not consider it ‘intolerant’ to believe such things, because you consider them ‘fact’. But they would not be facts for a Hindu whose philosophy incorporates the idea of cycles of karma, and of rebirth. The child has been born to that family, particularly – in order to enact some necessary karmic journey. In this sense the child does know the father; the unborn child chooses its parents. You may think such an attitude superstition; they would probably consider yours brutally limited, and exclusive.

    The relevance of the policemen now on trial for underage rape is that you were dismissive of Mr. Patel because he called the police ‘paedophiles’ – and you commented on this as evidence of his unbalanced state.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      ‘Hinduism is not a primitive superstition. It emerged from an established civilisation with a much older tradition than the west, and considerably more advanced in philosophy, literature, mathematics, astronomy, than their contemporaries.. I think you may be conflating your notions of Islam and Christianity ( which did both emerge from prescriptive desert tribes…) with what you know about Hinduism.’That is probably a fair criticism. As someone born and raised almost exclusively in a Western secular society I am most familiar with the traditions of the Abrahamic religions and know much less about Hinduism or Janism or Buddism etc.

      ‘It seems ‘cretinous’ to assume so much about the kind of Hinduism that the Patels practice when it seems clear you know very little about the philosophical structure of Hinduism: perhaps they are indeed superstitious’. Let me be clear. I reject all and any practices which are based not on observable truths but people’s interpretation of ‘sacred texts’ or what they think their ‘gods’ want them to do. That might come across as harsh or insenstive but it cannot be ‘cretinous’.

      Much earlier in this extravagant discussion you said – when we were speaking about the father’s refusal to have the child immunised as he was not allowed to be present to comfort him, you said:
      The baby would have no idea who the father was. This is a tragedy I agree, but its a fact. The baby would not know the father’s smell, his voice.
      This betrays the Western scient-ist stance that you claim elsewhere. I appreciate that you will probably not consider it ‘intolerant’ to believe such things, because you consider them ‘fact’. But they would not be facts for a Hindu whose philosophy incorporates the idea of cycles of karma, and of rebirth.’ And this is the nub of the problem isn’t it? I have considerable experience, both professional and personal of the needs of small vulnerable animals, including children. I have extensive knowledge of the relevant research in this field which has been carried out over many years. Some of this research is more robush than others, I will concede. But it enables me to reject with considerable confidence that I should put above what is known about the needs and vulnerabilities of the young, some ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’ for ‘ancient cultural ways’. If parents wish to raise their children in such ways, they need to do so in a society where the educative, legal and political structures support those ways. the UK – thankfully – is not one of those countries. Because I am sure you understnd the dilemma. Either we give every religion equall billing or we give none equal billing. I don’t have the time or the patience to sit down and learn about every single religious requirement of every single faith. Would this also extend to homeopaths? Spiritulists? Just how far does our patience and tolerance have to extend?

      My answer is to be found in the law. What the law demands and what the law protects. and I am clear about that.

      ‘The relevance of the policemen now on trial for underage rape is that you were dismissive of Mr. Patel because he called the police ‘paedophiles’ – and you commented on this as evidence of his unbalanced state.’and I stand by that comment. My point is that – sadly – child abuse is rampant across society. But it does not mean it is rational or sensible to leap from that to say that ‘the police’ are ‘padeophiles’. Some are. As are some doctors and some lawyers. I would still send my daughter to a doctor for treatment if she needed it because I am rational about the risk and how to manage it. I don’t think – sadly – this father is.

      Reply
  15. C

    Copied from uk social Services: Alienated children:
    Worth noting that the two ”terrorists” brothers responsible for the shootings at Charlie satirical magazine offices. were of french Algerian origin ; Spent their early childhood in Children’s homes in Brittany; Were then fostered by Converts to Islam ; Spent their youth involved in petty crime, small drug offences & the youth justice system; Ended up in an area of Paris, rife with unrest , multiple deprivations, and high ethnicity, high police presence & unemployment and with no known family support or attachments. just each other.

    They bear all the damage and signs of men alienated by the French State Child ‘protection’ system , when very very young ,Spat out unequipped into a hostile world and Paris ‘ghetto’ when youths.. With confused incomplete identities..
    Angry , yes but why and with whom ?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Young men, orphaned, adrift, no family, no sense of belonging. Men like fighting. They like moral certainty. It’s no mystery. Strong ,nurturing families can act as a defence but it’s no guarantee. But if you are suggesting that its the child protection system that created them, again I think that is a leap too far. It probably didn’t help but its highly unlikely it was the only relevant factor.

      Reply
      1. C

        Agree – there are many experiences that make up a life… But Social Care is intended to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. In that regard, in my opinion it is failing far too frequently. The attacks in Paris are one particularly extreme example – but there are many other lives quietly ruined by what appears to be an unregarding system.

        Reply
  16. C

    I am rational about the risk and how to manage it. I don’t think – sadly – this father is.

    I think having your children taken from you tends to reduce rationalism. In scientific tests, monkeys who have their children taken sit rocking back and forth in their cages, refuse food, etc. So if someone’s child is at risk of being taken, for reasons which to them appear entirely irrational, as they have never caused any harm to the child – expect a rational response seems… well irrational.

    Before having his children taken , the father was a successful businessman, with no discernable mental health issues. …Apart perhaps, from Hinduism…)

    From Family Law Week: ….the local authority was concerned in respect of the father’s inability to cooperate with support and monitoring. A supervision order was made on 26th October 2012 and then, following the parents missing appointments with the psychologist instructed in the case and then refusing the social worker access to the home on 21st February 2013, an interim care order was made. (Parker J noted that in fact everything had been fine with the family home at that time, but that the local authority had to investigate pursuant to their statutory duties.)

    From your comments: Let me be clear. I reject all and any practices which are based not on observable truths but people’s interpretation of ‘sacred texts’ or what they think their ‘gods’ want them to do.

    Hmmm… for ‘statutory duties’, read ‘sacred texts’.

    Let me be clear. Hindu gods, do not care at all what people do. They are more impartial than any judge about moral good and bad. If they can be said to care, it is about consequence: karma. Hindu gods are crystallisations, essences of energies innate in all beings, and as such, are not separate. (Tat tvam asi.) Hinduism is a ceremonial structure designed to enhance, inculcate and purify those essences. Which is what led the Hindu to develop yoga, another primitive superstition. In this regard every being could be described as ‘self-made’… just as in Hindi thinking, the external world is created by one’s attitude to it.

    c.f.: the line from the Bhagavad Gita made famous in the West by Oppenheimer, when he spoke it after viewing the first successful test at Los Alamos:
    ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’.

    The baby would have no idea who the father was. This is a tragedy I agree, but its a fact. The baby would not know the father’s smell, his voice.

    I am sure that the real reason the father wanted to go to the inoculation of his son, was to see his son, to meet his gaze, and be recognised. To refuse him this seemed to him proof positive that Social Care were never going to give him his son back, and did not want their to be any bond formed. I accept that this could be said to be ‘in the best interests of the child’ if the decision to adopt had already been taken, but it had not. thus Social Care in preventing contact, is pre-judging the decision of the court, and implicitly passing that judgment on to the parents. (I’m sure abuse of process will be considered too strong a phrase for this, but one can see where the comparisons to Nuremberg emerge from: another instance where the deeds were done before the law was made.)

    I would agree that the father has become rather unbalanced. The ‘point de capiton’ here is whether or not a effect can create a cause: whether winding a man up until he loses it, entitles the ‘losing it’ to be justification for taking his children, which was what originally wound him up.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I think having your children taken from you tends to reduce rationalism. In scientific tests, monkeys who have their children taken sit rocking back and forth in their cages, refuse food, etc. So if someone’s child is at risk of being taken, for reasons which to them appear entirely irrational, as they have never caused any harm to the child – expect a rational response seems… well irrational.

      Before having his children taken , the father was a successful businessman, with no discernable mental health issues. …Apart perhaps, from Hinduism…) I agree. Of course having your children taken from you will make most people angry, upset, despairing etc. Which may well lead to irrationality. But I am not sure, from what I have read of the father’s comments on line that he was starting from a high base of rationality even before the proceedings. But never having met him, I can’t say any more.

      Hmmm… for ‘statutory duties’, read ‘sacred texts’.
      Sorry, I don’t understand that comment. Statutes are drafted and debated by human beings who are alive now. Acts of Parliament are passed by politicians that we vote for. I would far rather put my faith in a statute than an interpretation of a religious text that makes me worth less than a man or tells me I should kill gay people etc, etc.

      I am sure that the real reason the father wanted to go to the inoculation of his son, was to see his son, to meet his gaze, and be recognised. To refuse him this seemed to him proof positive that Social Care were never going to give him his son back, and did not want their to be any bond formed. I accept that this could be said to be ‘in the best interests of the child’ if the decision to adopt had already been taken, but it had not. thus Social Care in preventing contact, is pre-judging the decision of the court, and implicitly passing that judgment on to the parents. (I’m sure abuse of process will be considered too strong a phrase for this, but one can see where the comparisons to Nuremberg emerge from: another instance where the deeds were done before the law was made.)
      But I don’t think its quite right to say he was ‘refused’ contact was he? The naming ceremony could have gone ahead but it had to be supervised and he refused that supervision. That was a choice he made, a choice that reflected his anger at the system which may be perfectly reasonable and understandable, but it was still a choice that prioritised his anger over his child’s need to get to know his father.

      I would agree that the father has become rather unbalanced. The ‘point de capiton’ here is whether or not a effect can create a cause: whether winding a man up until he loses it, entitles the ‘losing it’ to be justification for taking his children, which was what originally wound him up. I agree that parents should be supported, not provoked. I agree that many social workers appear to lack even basic people skills; I am about to write directly to the Head of Legal Services in one LA setting out my concerns about some very poor practice I have witnessed recently. But equally some parents can be unduly belligerent, aggressive and refuse reasonable co-operation.

      Sometimes it is hard to discern who or what is most to blame for this kind of toxic mess. But what I do not accept is that there is a deliberate, malicious plan to target ‘innocent’ parents and wind them up until they blow and then sweep in and take their children. The mother in this case clearly had problems and had been subject to previous assessments. This father wouldn’t let SW in his house. It was a tinder box waiting for a spark. Had he been less intransigent there might have been a different, happier ending. And sadly, from what I have read he used his religion as a very convenient peg upon which to hang some of his belligerence, at the expense of his family.

      Maybe religious people are happy to do that. I’m not. And I don’t understand it, which makes it very difficult for me to sympathise with it.

      Reply
  17. C

    Hmmm… for ‘statutory duties’, read ‘sacred texts’.
    Sorry, I don’t understand that comment. Statutes are drafted and debated by human beings who are alive now. Acts of Parliament are passed by politicians that we vote for.

    The statutory duties seemed to be being read as a sacred text in the sense that Social Care were obliged to investigate, and even though the judge pointed out that nothing was wrong, it was the infringement of their ability to fulfil ‘statutory duties’ that led to the children being taken.’

    I would far rather put my faith in a statute than an interpretation of a religious text that makes me worth less than a man or tells me I should kill gay people etc, etc.

    Women

    In ancient India, women occupied a superior position to, men. It is a culture whose only word for “strength” and “power” are feminine -“Shakti’. All male power derives from the feminine. e.g. Parvati is the “shakti” of Shiva, etc. Literary evidence suggests that kings and towns were destroyed because a single woman was wronged by the state: e.g., the Ramayana teaches us that Ravana and his entire clan was wiped out because he abducted Sita. The Mahabharatha teaches us that all the Kauravas were killed because they humiliated Draupadi in public.

    Gay
    None of the sacred Hindu texts, such as the Vedas or the Upanishads, contain a straightforward condemnation of homosexuality akin to that found in Leviticus 18:22.

    In the Mahabharata Krishna dons women’s clothing. The Vedas frequently mention people who belong to a “third sex,” which some readers have interpreted as a not-so-veiled reference to gays and lesbians in ancient society. And the erotic Kama Sutra—not a sacred text but an instruction manual written sometime between the first and sixth centuries A.D.— contains a lengthy section on homosexual fellatio.

    Present Hindu attitudes are more repressive,largely as a result of the colonisations by first Mughal (Muslim) culture and then the muscular Christianity of the Raj. Jus’ sayin’.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I am delighted to be enlightened that Hindu condemnation of homosexuality is not ‘straightforward’ and that if I ever find myself unsure of the ways of homosexual fellatio (different to heterosexual fellatio how one wonders?) I may pursue the Kama Sutra… but this isn’t really the point is it? I am quite sure there is a rich artistic, linguistic, poetic etc, heritage from all religions. Jolly well done religions. I am quite prepared to believe that a god or gods exist. However, if he/she/ineffable beings exist, they must either be cruel or stupid given what they appear to be happy to allow done in their names.

      I simply wave my Isaac Asimov flag.
      “I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don’t have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.”

      Reply
  18. C

    The one area where I feel Hinduism is unquestionably malign is the ancient tradition of sati, which is defended in Hindu texts right back to the earliest scriptures. It was always considered voluntary, although encouraged as a way of a wife proving her devotion, cleansing her husband’s karma ( and coincidentally simplifying inheritance issues…). The Mughal emperors Akbar and Jehangir both spoke against it; but it wasn’t until the British had established the rule of the Raj that it was actually outlawed.

    I can understand how it came about, the logic of re-incarnation makes death seem less final – and to follow your partner into the next life shows your desire to remain together. But it was only ever a female tradition; and that makes the re-incarnation/devotion argument suspect. It seems much more likely to have been grafted into the religious rituals as a radical way of preventing property disputes.

    Reply
  19. C

    22 January 2015 – Local authority application for injunction and committal to prison of Baby With No Name Dad at Bedford today – Result: NO injunction NO committal, costs dismissed – and Bhupesh is home tonight

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      That is great for him.

      But does not detract one iota from the points I raise about the dangers of adopting a siege mentality in care proceedings.

      Reply
  20. C

    Yes, he has still lost his children – at this point, anyway. Unjustly in my view, since I cannot see how it is just to remove children because someone is uncooperative, even to the point of violence, when Social Services have shown so little sensitivity to the particularities of his Hindu culture. Neither side comes out of this with much ‘honour’.

    Reply
  21. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    This case did not stand or fall on whether or not the LA was sufficiently sensitive to his culture. To suggest that is unhelpful. The judgment makes it clear there were many other problems that this family faced.

    Reply
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