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Statement re Grandparents and Locked Bedroom Case

I have now reviewed the case paperwork for the above case where I have been asked for further and better particulars of the situation with the final hearing and had a meeting with the grandparents. There is no judgment for the case. I have read the transcript of the hearing. This confirms that the hearing lasted of the order of 10 minutes as what was treated as a consent hearing. The grandmother was in the court building, but not in the hearing. The grandfather was in part of the court hearing, but because of hearing difficulties could not really hear what was going on.

The judge was told that the grandparents consented both to a care order and to the threshold documents. The grandparents are both adamant that they did not consent to the care order or that the facts of the the threshold warranted removing their grandchild. The nub of the case was the agreed fact that the grandfather in order to keep their granddaughter safe and stop her getting up to cook during the night, locked her in her bedroom. They are criticised for the lightbulb being removed, however, they had two separate night lights (one battery powered and one which was plugged in) and they inform me that both were switched on. It is, therefore, wrong to say that the room was dark.

The case raises a number of questions:
  1. There is no judgment on the issue of the care plan. The judge was told by the barristers that the grandparents consented to threshold and the care order, but was not told of any consent on the care plan.
  2. The key question of the night lights and whether the room was dark is not considered. This is a substantial flaw that ran through much of the proceedings.
  3. There clearly was not informed consent. There is no record of what was said between the grandparents and their legal representatives. However, they both are quite clear that they either did not agree to what was proposed to them or did not understand the consequences.
  4. At least one previous hearing was clear in that the legal question of threshold (rather than the factual issues) was in doubt and having a rushed final hearing without the respondents engaged properly does not appear to be in the best interests of the grandchild.
In summary, there is no judgment. It is arguable that with the judge being told that the grandparents consented to the threshold and care order that no judgment for those would be required in law. However, there is no explanation to the grandparents why the facts of the situation required that their grandchild be taken into care. Nor is there a judgment as to the care plan which the judge was not told had the support of the grandparents. The final hearing does not in retrospect appear to be a careful consideration of what the truth of the situation was and what was in the best interests of the child. It really raises issues about situations where parties are not actually in the court when decisions are being made. I accept that sometimes parties will deliberately not attend and that is a different issue.

Comments

Lucy Reed said…
Hello John,
Here is our response to this post : http://www.transparencyproject.org.uk/the-shaggy-dog-that-turned-out-to-be-a-woolly-sheep/
Lucy Reed
The Transparency Project

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