Social workers kept boy from mom who wouldn't buy him ice cream: judge
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London - Social workers tried to stop a mother and her young son from being reunited because she refused to take him out for an ice cream, a High Court judge said on Thursday.
Other reasons why the boy was prevented from going to live with his mother included her refusal to allow him to have the haircut he wanted, Sir Nicholas Mostyn found.
The judge condemned Welsh social workers who used the ice cream incident and the mother’s stand on the haircut as reasons why he should go on living with foster parents.
Sir Nicholas said the reasons were ‘utterly insubstantial’ and ‘obviously inconsequential’ and accused social workers of social engineering in their efforts to stop the reunification of mother and son.
The boy, now eight, and his family were not named in the ruling in which Camarthenshire social workers were rebuked and Sir Nicholas ruled that the boy should go back to live with his mother.
The family troubles that led to the youngster being taken into care early in 2016 were set out in court rulings but have not been made available to the public.
According to an earlier hearing in Swansea, other incidents held against the mother included one in which her boyfriend had antagonised the boy by taking a Power Ranger sword away from him when he was waving it around indoors.
Sir Nicholas said the social workers said the boy had formed an attachment to his foster parents. But he added: ‘The court must be on guard against subtle and insidious forms of social engineering in favour of new “better” parents.
‘The court must recognise that the state has no right to deprive a natural parent of the right to bring up his or her child unless it can be shown that the exercise of that right would endanger the child’s moral or physical health.’
Social workers said they did not want to cause further disruption to the boy’s life, but the judge said their argument ‘does not place any weight at all on the principle of proportionality, or on the right to respect for family life, let alone on the positive duty of the local authority to take measures to achieve a reunification of the blood family.’
The ruling means the mother will continue to be supervised by social workers while doubts about her ability to raise him remain.
Sir Nicholas said a social workers’ 44-page witness statement was ‘very long on rhetoric and generalised criticism but very short indeed on any concrete examples of where and how the mother’s parenting had been deficient’.
He said the social worker had been asked to show an example of when the mother had failed to meet the boy’s emotional needs.
‘Her response was that until prompted by the local authority the mother had not spent sufficient one-to-one time with him and had failed on one occasion to take him out for an ice cream,’ Sir Nicholas said. ‘This struck me as utterly insubstantial criticism.
‘A further criticism in this vein was that the mother had failed to arrange for his hair to be cut in the way that he liked. Again, this is obviously inconsequential.’Daily Mail