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Haringey under fire for trying to block contact between siblings

The case is taking place at the High Court. File picture: PA Wire The case is taking place at the High Court. File picture: PA Wire

Thursday, April 17, 2014
3:06 PM

Haringey Council is once again in the firing line after it was revealed it stopped a group of abused siblings seeing each other - despite a High Court ruling to the contrary.

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Mr Justice Holman has ordered the council to apologise to the siblings and their parents - who are both serving prison sentences after being convicted of offences against their children.

The judge, sitting at the High Court last Wednesday, April 16, said the results of the “systematic corporate failure” were likely to be “frankly catastrophic”.

He added he was “shocked and baffled” and the position the children had been left in was one of “great gravity”, saying: “The essential failures in this case almost beggar belief.”

Mr Justice Holman told the Family Division of the High Court that another judge had ruled - after making welfare decisions nearly two years ago - the two youngest children must stay in contact with the five older children.

The younger children, aged two and three, are to be adopted, while the older children are in foster care.

But he was told that the council had ended contact between the two groups of children in December 2013 following a “professionals meeting” - and no-one had taken legal advice.

The judge - who named the family as Musa - also said a case reviewing officer had been appointed - and that officer had failed to protect the children.

Mr Justice Holman said it would be “extraordinarily difficult” for the two groups of children to resume contact.

Lawyers representing the council apologised at the hearing, while a senior manager at Haringey said “internal processes” would be reviewed.

Elaine Redding, assistant director of children and young people’s service, said in a statement: “There was well intentioned change effected around the planning for these children which incorrectly failed to take into account the legal framework.

“It is clear that aspects of the team’s compliance with court orders made in respect of the children fell unacceptably short of good practice.”

Ms Redding added: “I am satisfied that in this case there was good liaison between professionals to support the children’s welfare needs, regular direct liaison between the social work and adoption teams and that the required look after children reviews took place.

“It is however unclear to me precisely when the decision was made.”

However, the judge said: “Judges should avoid cynicism. But I cannot help observe how often in recent decades one has read or heard of local authorities learning lessons.”

A Haringey Council spokesman said it “fully recognises” it did not follow correct procedures in this case.

+ The case is on-going.

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