High Court family judge Sir James Munby spoke out in case of Slovak boy
He said attempts by social workers to gag media were ‘impermissible’
It comes after Italian mother was given forced caesarean in secret case
By STEVE DOUGHTY, SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
15 January 2014
Judges and social workers were yesterday warned that they must not seize control of the lives of foreign children.
No court can order a child from Europe to be taken from their parents or given up for adoption, said Britain’s most senior family law judge, Sir James Munby.
Overseas authorities should always have a say in cases involving their nationals, and the future of foreign children must be decided by courts in their own country, he said.
Judges and social workers must no longer keep their decisions secret or try to gag foreign media either, he added.
Sir James, the president of the Family Division of the High Court, laid down rules for judges dealing with such issues as he handled the case of a 12-year-old boy from Slovakia.
The judge said the Slovak boy – whose case has been heavily reported by newspapers in Bratislava – should live with an aunt. Slovak authorities were closely involved in the case.
It comes six weeks after the scandal over Alessandra Pacchieri, an Italian mother who was forced by a British judge in the secretive Court of Protection to undergo a compulsory caesarean.
Miss Pacchieri, 35, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after suffering a breakdown at Stansted Airport during a short visit to Britain.
In secret court hearings, a Court of Protection judge ordered that she undergo a compulsory caesarean, and a family court judge in Chelmsford overruled her pleas and ordered that her baby daughter should be adopted in this country.
Last month Sir James rejected an application by Essex social workers forbidding British and Italian newspapers from naming Miss Pacchieri.
He said that the attempt to deny her a right to speak out in public was ‘an affront to humanity’. Miss Pacchieri may now be named in public, while the name of her baby being brought up in Essex, and her adoptive parents, remain secret. (more…)