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15 JUL 2014

Hertfordshire County Council v F and Others [2014] EWHC 2159 (Fam)

Hertfordshire County Council v F and Others [2014] EWHC 2159 (Fam)
(Family Division, Parker J, 23 May 2014)

Care proceedings – Learning disabled parent – History of local authority involvement – Aggressive behaviour of the father – Lack of co-operation with professionals – Whether the threshold was crossed

Please see attached file below for the full judgment.

The mother had three children: her eldest, aged 10 lived with a relative due to the mother being unable to care for him. She now had a 2 year old and a five-month, old known only as Baby. The mother had been assessed as having a significant degree of intellectual impairment. The local authority had been involved prior to the birth of the now 2-year-old child but the father was extremely hostile to their involvement and complained of racism.

The local authority was concerned about the father’s inability to co-operate and after he refused to allow the social worker and the police entry to the house they applied for an interim care order. The order was granted due to the father’s aggressive behaviour and he subsequently assaulted the male social worker in the court room by punching him in the face repeatedly.

A week later the mother claimed she had separated from the father but she then resumed living with him without informing social workers and became pregnant with Baby. The 2-year-old child was made the subject of a full care and placement order.

Once Baby was born concerns again arose over the father’s behaviour and in light of the previous proceedings, care proceedings were issued on the day of his birth and an interim care order was granted.

At the final hearing the parents put forward proposals for how they would care for Baby but they were rejected and final care and placement orders were made.

In the circumstances of this case the balance fell strongly in favour of adoption. The proposals made by the parents were wholly unrealistic to address the concerns. Every opportunity had been given for them to address their behaviour but things had got worse. There was no evidence that any of the children had been physically harmed but the father had displayed uncontrollable physical aggression which was likely to occur in front of Baby placing him at risk of physical harm. The father’s deep suspicion of all kinds of people seriously inhibited his ability to see in the interests of his children in an objective way and inhibited his working with professionals.

The fully referenced, judicially approved judgment and headnote will appear in a forthcoming issue of Family Law Reports. A detailed summary and analysis of the case will appear in Family Law.


Case No: WD13C02440
Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWHC 2159 (Fam)

Sitting at: Watford County Court
Cassiobury House
11-19 Station Road
WD17 1EZ

Date: Friday, 23rd May 2014



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(1) F
(2) M
(3) BABY (by his Children's Guardian)

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Digital Tape Transcription by: John Larking Verbatim Reporters (Verbatim Reporters and Tape Transcribers) Suite 91, Temple Chambers, 3-7 Temple Avenue London EC4Y 0HP. Tel: 020 7404 7464 Fax: 020 7404 7443 DX: 13 Chancery Lane LDE

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MR NICHOLAS O'BRIEN (instructed by Community Legal Team, DX 145781 Hertford 4) appeared for the Applicants
MR STEPHEN CHIPPECK (instructed by Edward Hayes LLP, DX 432 London/Chancery Lane) appeared for the First Respondent
MR SEBASTIAN REID (instructed by SJ Solicitors, 604 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex IG3 9SQ) appeared for the Second Respondent
MR MICHAEL GENTILELLA (solicitor./advocate of SBS Solicitors, DX 57008 Dunstable) appeared for the Third Respondent

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Hertfordshire County Council v F and Others [2014] EWHC 2159 (Fam)
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