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Thursday, 07 June 2018

Doctors and social workers told to keep estranged daughters cancer diagnosis from mother

Written by Brian Farmer

A woman should not be told that her estranged teenage child has cancer, a High Court judge has decided.

Mr Justice Hayden has imposed an information ban after the youngster, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is undergoing hospital treatment, urged doctors and social workers not to say anything to the woman.

Council social services bosses with responsibility for the youngster's welfare had asked Mr Justice Hayden to impose the information ban.

Lawyers representing council bosses said the order they wanted was very unusual.

The youngster lived with another family member and mother and child had been estranged for several years, they told the judge.

They said the teenager's father was aware, but the youngster was adamant that the woman should be kept in the dark.

Mr Justice Hayden ruled that council staff should not tell the mother about her child's condition.

He said teachers at the youngster's school would also be released from any obligation to pass on information.

The judge was told bosses at the hospital where the youngster is being treated had already decided that they would not give out information against the teenager's wishes.

Mr Justice Hayden analysed evidence at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Wednesday.

He said he would review the order at a follow-up hearing in the near future.

Mr Justice Hayden said he had taken into account the woman's parental rights and the teenager's human right to respect for privacy before reaching his decision.

He said the woman had parental responsibility for the child and might have to be told in the long run.

But he said he thought it right to make a "holding" order for the teenager's sake.

"I have evaluated the mother's rights to family life alongside her [child's]," said the judge.

"The pressing need for [the teenager] at the moment is for a period of peace and calm."

Mr Justice Hayden has placed limitations on what can be reported about the case.

The judge heard argument about media coverage from lawyers representing council bosses and from a reporter attending the hearing.

He ruled that his decision could be reported, but said nothing should be revealed which might identify the teenager.

The judge said journalists must not reveal the teenager's name, age or gender or give any clue as to where family members lived.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kate Collins / PA Wire.