Fair warning to be prepared for a very uncomfortable read, a shocking approach to investigation by professionals.
In AS, TH, BC, NC and SH (False Allegations of Abuse)  EWHC 532 (Fam) Mr Justice MacDonald has reminded professionals of the guidance they ought to follow when involved in cases in which allegations of abuse are made by children. The case concerned an application by the mother of the children N and S, two boys, for findings in respect of a series of allegations made against the father of S, TH. The allegations were of serious emotional, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by TH against her and both children.
Mr Justice MacDonald, in finding none of the allegations made by the mother to be proved, and in fact finding them to be false, criticised in detail the conduct of the professionals. Tiniest snippet:
231. As I stated at the outset of this judgment, this is a very concerning case. In August 2014 the mother manufactured alarm using a falsified version of past events in an attempt to avoid returning the children to Scotland. Using a combination of emotional pressure, inappropriate exposure to adult discussions and, on occasion, coaching, the mother proceeded to recruit the children to her cause. With the aid of repeated and persistent poor practice by a range of professionals the mother further succeeded in enclosing the narrative she had created within a hermetically sealed bubble, thereby succeeding in preventing professionals carrying out the checks that would have revealed that the allegations that were being made first by the mother, and then by the children required, at the very least, a critical and questioning appraisal. Indeed, by reason of their almost entirely unquestioning approach towards the mother, a number of professionals simply acquiesced to their confinement in that bubble. Had professionals adhered to well established guidance and procedure they would have discovered that the allegations lacked credibility.
Mr Justice MacDonald reminds professionals of responsibilities when considering allegations by children. In setting out the legal framework reference was made to the following significant guidance to be followed:
- The Report of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Cleveland 1987 (the ‘Cleveland Report’)
- Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings (March 2011) (‘ABE Guidelines’)
- HM Government Guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education (July 2015)
- What to do if you’re worried a child is abused (March 2015).
Read the judgement via Family Law: AS v TH (False Allegations of Abuse) 2016 EWHC 532 Fam
Discussed by Suesspiciousminds: Child questioned on FORTY FOUR occasions about alleged abuse by father