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Family Law

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19 NOV 2012

FACT-FINDING HEARING: A Local Authority v M and Others [2012] EWHC 2969 (Fam)

(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 26 October 2012)

The local authority applied for care orders in relation to two children, aged 9 and 3. The 9-year-old child suffered from asthma which since she had been in the care of her grandparents was under control and she was able to live a regular day-to-day life.

The child came to the attention of the local authority after a leading international asthma expert who had been treating the her made a referral expressing his view that she was being given incorrect, harmful and potentially lethal doses of her medication. He recommended her immediate removal so that her treatment could be stabilised.

The child had an extensive medical history including several apparent life-threatening events and numerous attendances at hospital. She was made subject to invasive and unpleasant treatments throughout her life. The medical consensus was now that most of her treatments had been unnecessary.

After hearing evidence from medical experts and listening to various 999 calls made by the parents the judge found that the child had never experienced a true ALTE and the events were most likely exacerbations of asthma worsened by the parents' style of management. He also accepted the medical evidence that the child's asthma medication had never been effectively administered.

The parents were found by the judge to have been reckless and incompetent in their approach to giving the child her basic medication, causing her significant physical and emotional harm, and possibly longer term psychological harm as well. They inflicted experiences upon her that were cruel because they were unnecessary and they had been unable to accept their responsibility in anything other than a superficial way.


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