CARE PROCEEDINGS: Lambeth London Borough v S, C and others [2006] EWHC 326 (Fam)

27 JUL 2006

(Family Division; Ryder J; 27 February 2006) The child had been removed from the mother's care because of repeated non-accidental injury to the child, caused either by the mother or by the mother's husband. It was known that the husband was not the father of the child; the mother had indicated at various stages that the child's father was her former partner, but had refused to confirm this within the proceedings. The court had made an order that in default of compliance with DNA directions, the former partner would be presumed to be the child's father. During the proceedings the presumed father was killed by the mother's husband, and the police took a sample of the presumed father's blood for investigative purposes. The local authority now sought to place the child with the presumed paternal grandmother. The local authority, seeking to establish the child's paternity, applied for a direction that the police disclose the DNA materials relating to the presumed father.

It was not appropriate to compel the police authorities to release retained samples and the information derived from them into family proceedings and on the facts of this case, in which paternity had long been presumed by virtue of a court default order, it was, in any event, unnecessary. A person's right to establish their identity was not absolute in the sense that there was no absolute right of access to genetic information; the need to ensure that personal genetic information held by the state was used only for lawful purposes was a competing interest. The blood sample taken by the police was a retained sample under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (the 1984 Act), notwithstanding that it was from a victim, not a suspect, and could not be used for a purpose not within the meaning of s 64(1A) of the 1984 Act. The establishment of parentage by the use of samples seized and retained by the police was not an authorised purpose to which the samples could be put.

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