Madeleine: A Ward of Court

Many thanks to Jailhouselawyer for pointing out this article, in The Telegraph today. It has been revealed that, shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared last year, her parents applied to the High Court to have her made a ward of court. They are now using the wardship to ask the court to order Leicestershire Police to disclose details of reported sightings of Madeleine, so that they can have those sightings investigated by a detective agency.

Wardship is a fairly rare bird these days. Its effect is to empower the court to make such orders as are deemed necessary for the protection of the child. This may seem a bit odd in respect of a child that is missing and may be dead, but wardship is quite often used in such circumstances - the court can make whatever orders are considered necessary to locate and return the child, and this is exactly what the McCanns are seeking. On the face of it, it does seem to make sense - surely the more people that are looking for Madeleine, the greater the chance that she will be found (assuming, of course, that she is still alive)? On the other hand, a cynic might say that the application is just a smokescreen - an attempt by the McCanns (who are, of course, suspects in the case) to indicate their innocence.

Update: The police have agreed to release the files.

Comments

  1. In a nut shell, yes. However, I clicked on the link for read more and there was no more. Any chance on you expanding upon it, the implications etc. For example, the McCanns using it to stop others cashing in on Madeleine like it may be said the McCanns have profited? And, what if somebody sought to be joined to the case and argued that the McCanns were exploiting Madeleine? And, could somebody apply for a writ of habeas corpus for the McCanns to produce the body?

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  2. I understand the logics of having "the court" looking for a missing child. But the articles say that the parents (that supposedly have applied for this wardship) are asking for the files of the investigation "on behalf" of their daughter. Isn't there a contradiction here? Surely, it would be the court guardian that would have to make the request to the Leic. Police, isn't it?

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  3. jailhouselawyer: I have not previously taken any more than a passing interest in the case, so I really don't have the knowledge to comment in any detail. Why would disclosing details of reported sightings of Madeleine stop others cashing in? I doubt that the court would entertain an application to be joined, unless that party has a direct interest in, or relation to, the child - I don't think 'public interest' would be enough. As for habeas corpus, that is not my field at all, but even if it were possible, surely you would need some evidence that the McCanns have her, or know where she is?

    Anonymous: The parents are parties to the proceedings, so they can make the application. The court could, of course, order that the documents be released to someone else.

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  4. What I meant was, given that Madeleine is a ward of court, and Dolls'R'Us intended to market a Madeleine doll, the McCanns could argue it was exploitation. What I am suggesting is, perhaps the ward of court thing is part of a wider agenda from the McCann camp?

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  5. It could be. The thing about wardship is that pretty much anything is possible.

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  6. If the parents can use Madeleine's WOC status to try and get the police to hand over information, how about the following scenarios (or am I barking up the wrong tree).

    It is not in madeleines best interest to publish newspaper articles about her parents possible involvement. (regardless of whether they are true)?

    It is not in Madeleines best interest to suspend one or both of her parents from practicing their profession?

    It is not in Madeleines best interest to extradite her parents to face charges in a foreign country?

    It is not in Madeleines best interest to reposess the family home?

    WOW I could go on...

    regards

    noseycow

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. The primary issue for the court is to find Madeleine, or find out what happened to her - I doubt the court would entertain an application relating to anything else until that is resolved.

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  9. OK, no defamatory comments - anything I think may possibly be defamatory will be deleted.

    Incredible the interest in this case - don't you people have anything else to think about? ;-)

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  10. Incredible the interest in this case - don't you people have anything else to think about? ;-)
    _______________________

    We're sick and fed up of being lied to by the contemtuous Brit media, sick and fed up of the great and good condoning child neglect, and thouroughy didgusted at the all most elevated to saintliness of the Dr's McCann.

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  11. Does the ward of court mean that Madeleine is no longer the legal responsibility of Kate and Gerry McCann? If so, how is it that they can ask to see evidence about possible sightings of her?

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  12. Thank you for your explanation.
    But please allow me to make a question that escapes the Child and Family Laws. Do you think that in such a case where the High Court is acting in the best interests of a child whose wardship it detains, if can rule against a foreign law that considers the files on the child’s case secret?

    After all Leicester Police’s files were obtained under the Legal Mutual Assistance treaty, and if I interpret it correctly, they are only the guardians for those files that legally belong to the Portuguese Police.

    Thanks,
    Luz

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  13. Laffin Assasin: I don't know, there seem to be plenty of people around who have suspicions about the McCanns.

    anonymous: Yes, the court assumes responsibility for the child, but the parents are still parties.

    Luz: The Telegraph report mentioned this - I haven't commented previously as it is also a matter beyond my expertise - you would have to consult an international lawyer.

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  14. John: I did try to hint at the public interest. CNN in the States have picked up my post on the case. There is the Portuguese interests in the case also, PJ and public and media.

    If you like, and have the time to get more involved with the case, I can email you links to bring you up to scratch.

    It's a political issue, some claim a possible free masonary angle. In a recent poll 92% believed at least the McCanns should be charged with neglect. And yet, the McCanns have sought legal proceedings against a former Portuguese newspaper for allegedly turning public opinion against them. The poll was conducted before the article was published.

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  15. I don't think the court will accept public interest as a basis of joining a party, but I may be wrong.

    Unfortunately, I don't have the time to get more involved. As far as I can see, it's a simple defamation thing: no one can state that the McCanns are guity of anything unless they can prove it.

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  16. Mr Bolch, I think it would repay you to read some of the posts on legal matters on the3arguidos.net and to review the membership and beliefs of the membership. Most posters are extreme believers in various stange theories that in one way or another blame the Mccanns for the demise of Madeleine.

    Theories promulgated on the sitehave varied from 'Madeleine's body was sewn into the carcase of a dead dog' to Madeleine's body was thrown into a volcano' to 'Madeleine was killed by the teenage son of two of the major characters in the tale' to 'Madeleine was used in a paedophile sex ring on the holiday and killed during rough sex accisentally'.

    These people are close to cultists in their strange beliefs about occurences in this case.

    They have seized on this Wardship issue as another stick with which to beat the Mccanns.

    They cannot get their heads around the simple fact that having Madeleine made a Ward of Court in the early days would potentially allow the guardian ad litem through the court to acquire court orders requiring action by police or others far more easily and compellingly than if the parents acted as appellants alone. This explains why wardship is recommended in abduction cases- ease of acsess to legal orders.

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  17. Mr Hodge, the current thread on the3arguidos contains the following suggestions:
    From: http://www.the3arguidos.net/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16145
    1/ The McCanns other two children are wards of court also and after the Mccanns are necessarily found guilty of harmin Madeleine, the courts will make her leave the extended Mccann family and force a change of identity as with the Bulger case.
    2/ No caring parent would ever agree to such a procedure, therefore the McCanns are lying and it is really the state that has made this application
    3/ No court would ever rule against the police
    4/ Wardship and appointment of a Guardian ad litem means that the parents have lost all claim to Madeleine- whatever happens she will never be returned to them. This ignores the Guardians duty to act in the best interests of the child having continuing parenting.
    5/ Wardship was ordered solely because of neglect issues!

    Perhaps you could comment on the reality of the above. I will list more amazing ideas below- these people are extreme fantasists!

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  18. 6/ Only Police and Social Services are allowed to make wardship applications
    7/ The primary goal of wardship is to protect a child against one or both parents
    8/ The court having made Madeleine a ward of court could seize the Find Madeleine Funds and decide how they should be spent (despite the fund being a private company limited by guarantee)
    9/ As a 'ward of court' all parental responsibility has been removed from Mr & Mrs McCann - so what right do they have for information about her - I imagine- no more rights than any other 'non-connected' person.
    10/ The parents have no right to search for her and neither have they the right to pay Metado 3 to look for her.

    More self serving arguments to follow. See a pattern?

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  19. 11/ There is no way the court would waste time with an application from the McCanns 'just in case there are legal problems in the future'
    12/ Maybe the Mccanns are not Madeleine’s real parents (they have speculated on IVF parentage among their entire friendship group previously and endlessly) and wardship is to stop the real father or mother (possibly Madeleine was adopted) from asserting their rights- totally ignoring that parental responsibility is strictly defined and would need to be over-turned in separate proceedings which would be certain to fail anyway.
    13/ imo i think all 3 children were made wards of court, for the simple reason that kate and gerry against all the best advice decided it was worth the risk to show maddys eye defect.
    14/ I think that the Court may not take too kindly to TV, film, magazine and press articles concerning Madeline. The parents may not have the right to print information and release photos of a child who is "under the protection of the Court"?
    15/ It is an interesting question whether a dead child can be made a ward of court? I would have thought dead people have no rights? It is only possible to protect the rights of a live child.

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  20. millicent bystander: I claim authorship of 15, can I have my £5 prize please?

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  21. Regardless of the (often wild!)theories, the judge is likely to see the use of wardship in this case as a rather thinly disguised ploy to gain access to the evidence against the parents. And on those grounds, I would expect the request to be denied.

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  22. Millicent: OK, OK, I get the point!

    Judge Dread: You may be right, although if only details of sightings is disclosed, then I'm not sure how that could be evidence against the parents.

    Right, I've spent enough time on this today and, frankly, I'm a bit bored with it. I won't therefore be answering any further comments or emails (at least this evening!).

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  23. Thank you Mr. Bloch, I'll do that.

    Luz

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  24. Dear Mr Bloch
    I support the contents of Millicent Bystander post. The 3 Arguido's forum is full of hate and libel against Mr and Mrs McCann and something needs to be done about it. A member of the forum has asked the founder for Kate and Gerry's home address and from that point,she has proceeded to stalk the McCann family. This is illegal surely?

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