Brighton social workers have learnt from mistakes in ‘tragic’ adoption case, says children’s services chief
Children’s services boss Pinaki Ghoshal said that social workers in Brighton and Hove had learnt from the complex and long-running adoption case described in one court hearing as “tragic”.
A girl, 4, was taken from her natural father at just a few weeks old and placed with parents who wish to adopt her. Her father wants to raise her with her three siblings.
The outcome of her case was shared publicly this week. The most senior family court judge in the country ruling that she had spent so long with her adoptive parents, she should remain settled with them.
The judge also said that contact with her birth family should take place sooner rather than later, with experts expected to help the young girl to understand what has happened.
Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, criticised Brighton and Hove City and its social workers as well as the girl’s former legal guardian. He also criticised two of the judges who have been involved in the case for their handling of the matter.
The girl had, he said, been failed by the system.
Mr Ghoshal, the council’s executive director of families, children and learning, said: “We accept the findings of this judgment. Most importantly, we agree with its conclusion that it would be in the best interests of the child in question for the adoption to proceed.
“We agree with the judgment regarding the unusually long time this litigation has taken and that this has been deplorable for the child and families concerned. However, the timescales of the legal process are not something over which we have had control.
“Throughout this very complex case we have always tried to work in the best interests of the child.
“The actions by our children’s services team that led to the original court order were taken in late 2012.
“Over the last five years there have been significant developments in our practice, in part informed by this case.
“As recorded in the judgment, we have recognised that there were mistakes with some of our practice in the past and we have apologised for these mistakes.
“With further legal action pending it would not be appropriate for us to comment further on this case.”
In his judgment Sir James said: “This is a very complex and worrying case. It is, I think, by some margin the most difficult and concerning case of its type I have ever been involved in.
“This litigation has been proceeding for an unusually long time. To say that it has proceeded in an unsatisfactory manner would be understatement on a grand scale.”