IRO failure to ensure satisfactory steps taken by the local authority

Photo credit_ orangesparrow via _ CC BY-NC-ND


‘This case raises issues both as to the end-of-life treatment of a very ill child, and as to alleged breaches of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, in relation to which damages were claimed. These are both issues which ought to be heard, so far as possible, in public. With the complete agreement of all parties, I have heard this whole case in public, and now give this short judgment in public. I will not name any individual and will avoid specificity in some of the details, but I direct that any report of, or relating to, this case or judgment must not name or identify the child concerned, nor his mother or maternal family, nor his foster mother, nor in any way identify the address or whereabouts of any of them. This confidentiality is of the utmost importance in this case.

The case is one of very great sadness and tragedy. At the age of 13, the mother conceived a child. The father was about the same age. The mother does not know the name or identity of the father, other than his first name. Soon after the conception, the father returned to live abroad. The mother did try to find him there but was not successful. It is unlikely that he even knows that he fathered a child.

The mother gave birth when she was 14. The child, whom I will call C (which is not the initial of any of his actual names), is now almost five. Even before the birth, the mother made clear to social workers and others that, in view of her own very young age, she felt it better for both him and herself that she have no contact or involvement with him at all and that he should be adopted. She has never wavered in that decision and view. Apart perhaps from the most immediate aftermath of the birth itself, she has never held him, nor seen him, nor wished to do so. She agreed with the local authority that he should be accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, and he was placed within days of his birth with the foster mother with whom he still lives. The love and care which the foster mother has given to him in the circumstances that I will shortly briefly describe, have been described as ‘exemplary’ and are beyond praise.

After the required six weeks had elapsed after C’s birth, the mother signed documents consenting to his placement for adoption and to his adoption. The local authority began to investigate potential adopters and narrowed their list down to two families. Then the tragedy began to unfold’.

Important lessons for IROs in this case:


Read the judgement via BAILII: LONDON BOROUGH OF BRENT and C



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