“Just glanced?” Court of Appeal find Judge to have been unfair


Re G (child) 2015  http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/834.html was an appeal from a finding of fact hearing in private law proceedings conducted   (perhaps that ought to be in inverted commas) by Her Honour Judge Pearl.

The appeal was on the basis of judicial bias/ unfairness, which as I’ve set out before has a relatively low bar in law  (that a reasonable observer would have concluded that the Judge was biased) but in practice is hard to pursuade an Appeal Court of, since most people who leave Court without the order they wanted tend to think that a Judge was biased.

Here the case was made out, in spades.   [Though not necessarily in terms of the Judge being in favour of one party and against the other, but rather that her treatment of mother’s case was sufficiently unfair to prejudice a fair hearing]

Things began badly when Ms Toch, the mother’s counsel, arrived late at…

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Government Publishes Study On Fantasy Disclosure By Sexual Killers

Researching Reform

A study on the background and motivation of people who commit murders with a sexual element, such as rape and other forms of sexual assault, makes for very interesting reading.

Published this morning by the Ministry of Justice, key findings of the study include the relevance of childhood experiences and the need to find ways to allow better detection of sexual killers by establishing ways to get these individuals to talk openly about the fantasy narrative, a key indicator of potential sexual homicides.

The Government website includes this explanation of the study and its relevance:

“Sexual fantasy has been identified as an important characteristic in theories of sexual homicide, while forensic practitioners may seek to determine whether sexual fantasy played a role in a sexual killing. Thus, fantasy can be integral to case formulation and identifying treatment targets as part of rehabilitative efforts to reduce the risk of recidivism.


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Sibling rivalry


In Re P (A child) 2015, His Honour Judge Wood had to deal with an application for a Care Order for a girl who was sixteen years and four months old. That in itself is unusual. Even more unusual, the central allegation was that of physical abuse (which was disputed by the family). More unusual still, the allegation was that the girl had been physically assaulted by her older brother.


Now, if you have a sibling, you might be thinking along similar lines to my initial reactions.  My sister and I fought, not like cat and dog, but like two fighting roosters whose feed had been laced with PCP. We fought about absolutely everything. No topic was too trivial , no imagined slight too minor.  That did occasionally spill into physical conflict. I’m sure that my sister has many dreadful stories about me – many of which would be…

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Question It!

Researching Reform

Welcome to what feels distinctly like a wintery July. Our question this week looks at important questions the nation’s child abuse scandal will raise, and what duties and responsibilities the government may have in the wake of whatever findings may come to light once the independent inquiry completes its work.

Whilst institutional responses to child abuse allegations will once again be under the spotlight, as they have been previously many times in the countless reports written on the subject prior to the Inquiry’s inception, it is likely that other more fundamental questions about social, political and religious culture will also need to be addressed.

In Australia, their own inquiry into child sexual abuse has begun to shed light on how religious movements turned a blind eye to abuse, simply because it is not considered to be abuse in itself. At home, political culture has ensured that sexual abuse of children…

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New Fathers 4 Justice activists confront Sir James Munby,President of the Family Division

New Fathers 4 Justice - Superhero Dads

New Fathers 4 Justice activist Bobby Smith from Bedfordshire and Humanworth campaigner Archi Ssan from Streatham have confronted  Sir James Munby who is President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

Munby attempted to make a quick exit but was prevented from doing so by the two activists.

Arhci said “We will be targeting more Judges in the coming months at home and outside their courts to make them answerable for the decisions they make behind the closed doors of the secret Family Court System.”

Bobby Smith who recently climbed Westminster Abbey said “Sir James Munby…He doesn’t want to speak on the pavement, doesn’t want to speak in his office… In fact he just does not want to speak at all! ”

“The most senior family judge in the country is playing the silent game when it comes to…

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Genuinely shocking


The Court of Appeal in Re A-S (children) 2015 had to deal with an appeal, the facts of which were genuinely shocking to me. And that is as a lawyer who has been dealing with Children Act 1989 cases for over twenty years now.


Within care proceedings, a range of findings were made against the mother, the most serious of which was that she had deliberately drowned her baby (who survived and is fine now). The mother’s case, including her case on appeal, was that she had been negligent in leaving her child unattended in the bath, where he became submerged, but that it was an accident.

You may be thinking that it must be very difficult to establish to the requisite standard of proof whether the incident of drowning was deliberate or accidental. The shocking thing about this case is not merely the incident itself, but that the…

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Superman Haydn Burton A5941DH who protested agaist PM in Witney found hanged in HMP Winchester

New Fathers 4 Justice - Superhero Dads

Winchester prison and Haydn Burton’s family have confirmed that this morning Haydn Burton was found hanging in his cell. He was taken to Winchester Hospital, unresponsive, and placed on life support.

Sadly it looks like another superhero father has taken his own life ……leaving a little girl without her daddy! Since when was the best interest of the child not to have her daddy .

Haydn has been let down by the Police, Prison System, Government and the Courts. We are deeply shocked and saddened by this news. Putting vulnerable people in prison is, in part, further victimising people who are in most need.

We now call for a full investigation as this is very suspicious

Haydn was also stabbed in HMP Winchester less than a month ago


Archi Ssan wrote

At this time, whilst great sadness has consumed so many of us who are Haydn’s friends and family, I…

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Has the adoption case law made any difference in your Courts?


I don’t pretend that this is scientific – given that it is on a law geek website, it is only going to get voters who actually know about Re B, Re B-S et al, whereas I know from training that I give around the country that substantial volumes of social workers have been told nothing about it.

But I thought that a poll might help to identify a broad trend. I have my own answer, but I’m sure that my answer must be coloured by my own local experience.

In voting, please vote for what you are actually seeing in your local Courts – it isn’t meant to be a vote about what you think OUGHT to be happening.  It is open to everyone, not just lawyers and social workers.  (It is probably easier for people who were dealing with these cases both now and before Sept 2013, but I’m not…

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