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Tuesday, 03 October 2017

Woman with learning disability loses bid to keep children out of foster care

Written by Brian Farmer

A woman with a "very significant learning disability" has lost the latest round of a fight over the care of her two children.

Two Court of Appeal judges have backed a family court judge's decision and concluded that the youngsters, a boy aged 11 and a seven-year-old girl, should go into long-term foster care.

Detail of the case has emerged in a ruling by Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, and Lord Justice McFarlane, following a hearing in the Court of Appeal in London.

Two judges have not identified the family involved, but said social services bosses at Devon County Council had responsibility for the children's welfare.

Judges heard that the children lived with their mother at their maternal grandmother's home.

Their father, who also had a "very significant learning disability", lived elsewhere but had regular contact with them.

Social workers said they had been concerned for a number of years that the children were being "neglected" and "failing to thrive".

Judge Richard Melville had analysed evidence at a private family court hearing in Plymouth and concluded that the children were being "dragged and held back" and were likely to suffer "significant harm".

The woman challenged that decision in the appeal court.

Barrister Edward Devereux QC, who led her legal team, argued that Judge Melville had "failed to carry out a sufficient analysis" on whether removing the children from their mother's care was "necessary and proportionate".

But Sir James and Lord Justice McFarlane have dismissed the woman's appeal.

Lord Justice McFarlane said it was "not possible" to see how the children could be protected from "future harm" if they lived with their mother.

He said there could be "only one outcome".

Sir James, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, said he agreed.

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