Siân Gough acted for the younger children in the case of Hampshire County Council v A, B, C, D & E  EWFC B186
The 22 day final hearing took place over a period of 19 months. The local authority were found to have extensively breached the family’s human rights by the unlawful removal of the children from the parents’ care, failure to fairly involve the parents in the decision-making process, the deliberate failure to disclose material evidence, failure to promote family life and the failure to undertake a fair assessment. His Honour Judge Horton further found that there had been ‘a deliberate and calculated alteration of a report prepared by one social worker to make that assessment seem less favourable.’ Social workers found to have been involved in misleading the court and the parties as to the existence of a core assessment and lying on oath are named in the judgment. After significantly protracted proceedings involving two separate independent assessments the children were made subject to final care orders in November. The judgment also serves as a clear reminder of the need to identify learning and communication difficulties as swiftly as possible in order to ensure the fairness of the assessment process as well as the proceedings themselves.
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