|The Supreme Court|
Whether a child of two years of age should be permanently removed from her parents and placed for adoption. In that regard, whether the child was likely to suffer significant harm within the meaning of s.31(2)(a) of the Children Act 1989, and whether her permanent removal was a proportionate response to any such risk that she did face.
‘A’, a girl now aged two years old, was removed from her parents at birth. The first Respondent subsequently applied for a care order permanently to separate her from her parents and to have her placed for adoption. The grounds on which the order was sought were principally that her mother (‘M’) suffered from a psychiatric condition that led her to seek unnecessary medical treatment; that both her parents exhibited a dishonest approach when interacting with care personnel and other professionals; and that it was not appropriate for her father (‘F’) to care for her of his own accord. It was asserted that A was at risk of harm in terms of her emotional and social development and also due to the risk she would be presented for unnecessary medical treatment or adopt M’s behaviour in doing so. The Family Division of the High Court granted the care order. Both parents appealed that order on the grounds they did not present a risk of significant harm to A, and that in any event her permanent removal and placement for adoption was disproportionate to any risk that they did present. The Court of Appeal upheld the care order, and the parents now appeal that decision to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by a majority of four to one.
A press summary of the judgment is available here, and the full judgment here.