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01 MAY 2013

FACT-FINDING HEARING: A Council v M and Others (No 1: Fact Finding) [2012] EWHC 4241 (Fam)

(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 8 March 2012)

The local authority applied for care orders in respect of four children who at the time of the application were aged 17, 16, 7 and one. The youngest child was the son of the eldest child, who was now 18, and therefore no orders in respect of her were now sought.

The oldest two children were adopted from abroad by both parents and the 7-year-old was adopted by the mother from a different country after the parents separated. Following the separation the mother excluded the father from the children's lives and moved without informing the father of their new address.

The mother raised the children in isolation from wider family and friends. They were educated at home and had no contact with the mother or father's family. Referrals were made to social services on several occasions due to the mother's treatment of the children and their isolation.

The mother sought to adopt a fourth child but was unable to do so. The oldest child, then aged 13, claimed she was asked by the mother to become pregnant by artificial insemination with semen purchased over the internet. Seven consignments of semen were purchased over the following 2 years and the girl suffered a miscarriage at 14. At 16 she gave birth to a son and hospital staff made a referral to social services as well as the police after she revealed what had happened to her to a trusted neighbour. All of the children were placed in foster care.

During proceedings DNA testing confirmed that the baby was conceived using anonymous donor sperm. A fact-finding hearing was convened to determine the allegations made against the mother.

The evidence of the oldest child was preferred to that of the mother which was inconsistent and unreliable. The judge found that the child became pregnant as a result of duress following an AI programme planned when she was just 13 and culminating in her pregnancy aged 16. The child inseminated herself in her bedroom on seven occasions and when the mother was clear she wanted a girl she made the child engage in painful practices to increase her chances of conceiving a girl.

The threshold had plainly been crossed. 


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