Foreign authorities have little regard for our increasingly notorious ‘child protection’ system
By Christopher Booker 28 Nov
Over the past three years, mounting alarm has been expressed by the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and various eastern European governments at the readiness of Britain’s social workers to seize an ever-growing number of children from foreign parents working in the UK for what they consider to be wholly misguided reasons. Foreign government figures show, for instance, that these include 1,000 Polish children; and the number of Latvian families reporting the removal of their children has risen from seven in 2012 to 40 in 2013 and 89 in 2014.
Eleven days ago, the second oldest child of Russian-Latvian parents working in a town I cannot name for legal reasons was seen by a teacher to have a small mark on his neck. When the school reported this to social services, an examination revealed another slight mark on his leg. The family found itself plunged into an inexplicable nightmare.
“The parents were advised to leave the country immediately, while they could still legally do so”
A social worker (of a council we cannot name on the orders of Judge Ross Duggan) pressed the parents into signing a document admitting that these small injuries were their fault (which they later denied).
They confiscated the family’s passports and ordered the parents to vacate their home between 9pm and 7am each night, to leave their four children in the care of a grandmother.
When it became clear that the social workers were planning to apply for a full care order, to take the children into foster care, the parents were advised to leave the country immediately, while they could still legally do so. Arriving in Dublin, they were met by members of a “network” that has assisted scores of parents fleeing to Ireland to escape from UK social workers, one of whom described the couple as “intelligent, cultured people with four beautiful, well-behaved children”.
The next day, when the family had been given temporary passports by the Latvian embassy in Dublin and booked their flight to Riga, the social workers discovered what had happened. Judge Duggan issued an order that the parents must, on pain of imprisonment, return the children to Britain immediately, with copies to be sent to the Irish and Latvian authorities. Seemingly contrary to a recent ruling by Lord Justice Munby, the head of the family courts, that local authorities in such cases can be named, Duggan insisted that in this case it would be a contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment.
“The Latvian authorities are particularly exercised about the treatment of their nationals by social services in Britain”
When the family checked in at Dublin airport they were detained by six police, clutching a copy of the judge’s order. But having interviewed each member of the family separately, the police waved them on. On arriving at Riga, the family was again stopped by police, again holding a copy of Duggan’s order. Again, after brief discussion, they sent the family happily on its way.
The Latvian authorities are particularly exercised about the treatment of their nationals by social services in Britain. A case earlier this year attracted big publicity in Latvia, when senior representatives of its foreign and justice ministries vainly attempted to intervene in the Court of Appeal on behalf of a Latvian mother whose daughter had been sent for adoption.
In this latest case of the family that got away (but which Judge Duggan does not allow us to name), the conduct of the Irish and Latvian police seems yet further evidence of just how little confidence foreign authorities now have in the fairness and legality of Britain’s increasingly notorious system of “child protection”.