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30 SEP 2010

CARE PROCEEDINGS: Re X, Y and Z (Care Proceedings: Costs: Identification of Local Authority) [2010]

(Family Division; HHJ Clifford Bellamy sitting as a judge of the High Court; 27 September 2009)

The court permitted identification of Coventry City Council following the withdrawal of care proceedings. If identification of the local authority led to identification of the children, it would be a breach of the children's Art 8 rights, but in the circumstances of this case the risk of harm to the children as a result was low. Balanced against that, it was not a proportionate breach of the BBC's Art 10 rights to restrain identification of the local authority in relation to which there was a legitimate public interest.

The council had accused the parents of pretending the children were ill, and of subjecting them to unnecessary hospital and medical tests. The parents were also accused of lying about or exaggerating the children's symptoms. The court heard that in June 2008 the council applied for care orders for three children. However in January 2010, the authority gave notice that it intended to withdraw proceedings for two of the children. Finally in February, it gave notice that it wished to withdraw the proceedings relating to the remaining child.

The case accrued almost £400,000 in legal aid costs, a figure that the judge said was a "matter of concern" as the council had only withdrawn its application "at the 11th hour". Judge ordered council to pay £100,000 in court costs.


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