Family win High Court battle against Peterborough council after ‘unlawful’ child protection involvement

The scales of justice
The scales of justice
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A family has won a High Court battle against Peterborough City Council after the authority unlawfully put their seven-year-old daughter under a child protection plan when there was no evidence of neglect.

The young girl, who has autism and cannot be named, stopped eating and drinking due to sensory issues a few years ago and a naso-gastric tube was fitted to feed her.

In the following years a dispute developed between her parents and the medical team at Peterborough City Hospital about how best to treat her.

The clinicians wanted the girl to go to a residential assessment centre for several weeks, but her parents disagreed and wanted to seek a second opinion. Subsequently, the child’s clinical team made a referral to social services and the Local Authority placed the child under child protection with a category of ‘neglect’ in March 2015, even though its own assessment in July 2014 had concluded her mother provided “a great deal of emotional warmth.”

Her parents instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help resolve their issues and the law firm brought a Judicial Review at the High Court in June this year on behalf of the family against Peterborough City Council where the decision to place her under child protection was challenged. The Judge confirmed in his judgment that it was unlawful to have placed the child on a child protection plan and there was no evidence of neglect.

Following the decision, the girl’s mum said: “We just wanted what was in the best interests of our child and wanted to work with doctors and social services to achieve that.”

A council spokesman said: “Child protection cases are complex in nature and decisions have to be finely balanced. Decisions are not made by the council in isolation, they are the result of complex multi-agency discussions involving, for example, health services and the police. To add further scrutiny all decisions are overseen by an independent chair.”