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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Mother 'gobsmacked' as jailed rapist contacted by council to seek visits from child

Written by The Press Association

A jailed sex offender was given the chance to play a part in the future of the child of a woman he raped, it has been reported.

The man, who was reportedly part of a grooming gang, was contacted in jail by a council who gave him a chance to seek visits from the child, according to The Times.

The newspaper did not name the local authority or the child's parents.

The mother told The Times she was "gobsmacked" and said the council "bent over backwards to include him in the case".

It is understood a senior Ministry of Justice official met the mother last week and has promised to explore whether it was "a case of an individual social worker making a mistake or a systemic error".

A Government spokesman said: "Existing court rules are very clear that applicants in care proceedings should only ever notify people who have parental responsibility for the child."

The Times said a family court judge heard the child's case last year, adding that the council was seeking a care order with the support of his mother.

The child's father was listed as a "respondent" in the case, and the local authority told him in prison of his rights and promised to keep him informed of all future proceedings, the newspaper said.

It reported that at a hearing last year the child's mother was told that the man would be allowed to attend court and seek legal representation.

The newspaper said he would have been entitled to request visitation rights or for the child to be placed in the custody of relatives.

The rapist is said to have chosen not to take any part in the court proceedings.

The council declined to answer questions about the case, saying that the law prevented it "from disclosing information in relation to proceedings heard in private in the family court", The Times reported.

Baroness Newlove (pictured), Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, said: "This is a perverse situation.

"It appears to be a case in which a victim of the worst sexual violence faced the prospect of continuing to be abused by her perpetrator, this time via the family courts.

"I believe that where a child has been conceived by rape that the presumption of joint parental rights should be abolished."

Louise Haigh, shadow policing and crime minister, said: "This case potentially reveals a huge issue in the family courts where rapists are not only able but actively encouraged to gain access to their children and traumatise their victims all over again.

"If a child is born through rape the father should under no circumstances be able to weaponise the courts against their victim."

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

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