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(Family Division; Sir Nicholas Wall P; 15 October 2010)
There was a serious threat of ‘honour based violence' against a 16 year old Pakistani woman who had formed relationship with young man who the parents disapproved of. An order was made under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 and included an interim care order. An expert's first report suggested no immediate risk of forced marriage. However, having given assurances of confidentiality to the young woman, the expert's second report contained some information not disclosed to the other parties. A direction was made that the relevant information was to be disclosed to the legal advisers with irrevocable instructions not to impart the information to their clients without a court order. Once aware of the information all counsel agreed it should be disclosed.
The power to withhold disclosure existed, but in this case the parents Art 6 right to a fair hearing outweighed any risk to the young woman. Experts in Children Act cases cannot receive information ‘in confidence' from anyone.
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