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IN THE MATTER OF M (A CHILD) [2013] EWCA Civ 1007 - Why is the baby in care?

This case on Bailii is an unusual thing to find on Bailii as it is a refusal of permission to appeal.

Quoting from the judgment: 2. Again, offering no more than a summary, the reasons for that decision, which was the removal of the three children from the mother who had been caring for them, and a decision that (a) the threshold criterion section 31 of the Children Act were satisfied in relation to the care given by the mother, and (b) that they should not be returned to the mother's care, was justified, apparently not on any shortfall in the mother's ability to provide practical day-to-day parenting to her children, but arose from the mother's personality and her ability to act in a way which would cause the children significant harm to their emotional and social development.

and 10. Happily, on one basis, this case is not about a mother who is incompetent or unable to provide ordinary, good enough or even good physical and practical care for her children. Unhappily, and frustratingly for all involved, I dare say, particularly the mother and the children, the concern about the mother's ability to parent is more subtle and harder to pinpoint, but it arises from her personality and the potential for the children to be upset by unpredictable actions or words that she may from time to time exhibit.
We live in a country in which children have been starved to death by their parents without intervention by the state. However, a local authority deems is necessary to keep a baby in care at probably a cost of £40,000 per year because of "the potential for the children to be upset by unpredictable actions or words that she may from time to time exhibit."

The question I ask is one as to whether this is the right threshold for "risk of significant harm" or indeed an Article 8 intervention into the development of a baby that has been passed from foster carer to foster carer.

Should the state not concentrate on protecting children from a risk of serious and harmful maltreatment rather than being "upset".

It also raises the question as to what it is about what the mother might say that warrants this. I do think the courts should have revealed that in this judgment. It doesn't seem right to me.

This is also proof that the Irish Courts are not really bothering to look at individual cases. They are simply trying to drive people back to England. I am aware of two pregnant mothers intending to leave the UK at the moment. One is going to France and the other to Belgium.

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

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