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Monday, 12 February 2018

Judge's criticisms over senior social worker anonymity appeal revealed

Written by Brian Farmer

A family court judge's criticisms of a social worker who won a fight to remain anonymous have emerged in a ruling published on a legal website.

Judge Gavyn Arthur had been asked to make decisions about the truth of sex abuse allegations made by a teenage girl.

He dismissed the allegations, after analysing the case at a private family court hearing in London in late 2014, but criticised a social worker involved.

The judge, who has died since overseeing the case, said he would name her in a published ruling on the case.

But the woman said his decision was unfair and took her complaint to the Court of Appeal.

Three appeal judges ruled in her favour, following a hearing in London, and said she should remain anonymous.

They said any published ruling should not include her name.

Judge Arthur's anonymised ruling has now been published on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute website.

His ruling lists Luton Borough Council as the local authority with responsibility for the teenage girl's welfare.

The judge explains the social worker had stopped working for the council some time before the family court hearing.

He described her as a "senior social work practitioner" who had worked in social care for more than 25 years.

The judge raised a number of issues in his ruling, saying:

  • Another child in the teenage girl's family had alleged that the social worker was "pressurising her to make allegations of sexual abuse" and alleged that the social worker had sent her a text telling her "not to be in denial".
  • The social worker had been "reluctant" to make a statement for use in family court proceedings although had given evidence at a hearing.
  • She was "truculent" in court, "dismissive and disdainful of correct social work practice" and "liberal in blaming others for things that had gone wrong".
  • The social worker was "very strident when giving evidence about how allegations of child abuse should be dealt with".
  • She had "shredded all her notes".

Lawyers representing the social worker say she is planning to make a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (pictured) in Strasbourg, France.

They say she was suspended from work as a result of Judge Arthur's decision to publish her name, adding her health and reputation suffered and have indicated she will ask European judges to rule her right to respect for family life was breached.

Detail of the social worker's plan to take her case to a European court emerged recently after her lawyers asked a senior judge for permission to use documents generated during the family court case when bringing her human rights claims.

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