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Cite as: [2013] EWHC B35 (Fam)

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This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

Neutral Citation Number: [2013] EWHC B35 (Fam)


First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn, WC1
17th May 2013

B e f o r e :

(In Private)


- and -

(1) D (mother)
(2) S (father)
(3) X (the child by the Child's Guardian)


Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & CO
Official Shorthand Writers and Tape Transcribers
Quality House, Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP
Tel: 020 7831 5627 Fax: 020 7831 7737


MS. B. MORRIS (instructed by Legal Services, London Borough of Camden) appeared on behalf of the Applicant.
MS. A. SPRATLING (instructed by Fisher Meredith) appeared on behalf of the 1st Respondent Mother.
MS. A. BARRINGTON-SMYTH (instructed by Co-operative Legal Services) appeared on behalf of the 2nd Respondent Father.
MS. S. ANCLIFFE (instructed by Lomax Lloyd-Jones) appeared on behalf of the Guardian ad Litem.



Crown Copyright ©


  1. This judgment follows a five-day final hearing in care proceedings commenced by the London Borough of Camden (the "local authority") on 19th July 2011 pursuant to s. 31 of the Children Act 1989 in respect of X, a child born on 17th July 2011, who is now one year and ten months old.
  2. The first respondent, D, is X's mother. She is a 25-year old Bulgarian national. The second respondent, S, is X's father. He is a 39-year old African from Sierra Leone. The parents are not and never have been married to one another but they share parental responsibility for X because Mr. S is named as the father on X's birth certificate. X is the only child of each of his parents. He is the third respondent in these proceedings and his welfare interests have been represented by his Guardian, Julie Ann Green.
  3. Each of the parties has been separately represented by counsel throughout this hearing. That is a new situation in respect of Mr. S, who has chosen to represent himself throughout these protracted proceedings and only instructed solicitors very shortly before the final hearing. He has been represented at the hearing by very experienced counsel in the field of Children Act proceedings, Amanda Barrington-Smyth. Time has been allowed during the course of the hearing for Ms. Barrington-Smyth to appraise herself of all the documents filed in the proceedings and to take full instructions from Mr. S. I am satisfied that Mr. S's case has been thoroughly and properly presented on his behalf.
  4. The local authority commenced these proceedings two days after X's birth because the local authority was very concerned about the mother's vulnerability and isolation, her lack of English and her general dependence on the father and about the impact of the father's mental health problems upon X and upon the mother and her ability to care for him. The parents had come to the attention of the local authority's social care department for those reasons before X was born. It was also of concern that the parents were due to be evicted from their accommodation on 2nd June 2011. The police and the court bailiffs were involved in the eviction of Mr. S from that accommodation and the mother was present when this took place. She was eight months pregnant, homeless and vulnerable.
  5. After X's birth X was placed with his mother in a residential mother and baby assessment facility where they remained until November 2011. X made good progress in his mother's care and the conclusion of the assessment was a recommendation that X and his mother should move into supported accommodation in the community. The mother was also assessed by a chartered psychologist, Dr. Jeune Guishard-Pine. Her conclusions were cautiously optimistic and she recommended that the mother should undergo therapeutic intervention to support and assist her.
  6. X has remained in his mother's care since his birth and has continued to make good progress in her care. Early on the mother made a decision that she would care for X on her own and not as part of a family unit with the father. X has never lived with his father, therefore. In view of the concerns about Mr. S's mental health difficulties, he was offered supervised contact with X, initially twice a week, though in fact contact took place less frequently than that. Contact took place in August 2011 but was suspended after an incident between the parents before contact in early September and because of the father's agitation and lack of interaction with X. There was a considerable gap in contact between X and his father between September 2011 and March 2012 due to the father's objections to the child's social worker being the contact supervisor, the father considering the social worker to be rigid and overly critical of him, and the father not wishing to discuss contact agreements with the social worker. Contact resumed in March 2012 and continued until 30th July 2012 when formal contact ceased because the father objected to supervision by the local authority and to the contact venue where the father had come into conflict with the security services at the contact centre.
  7. The father has had no formal contact with X since July 2012. However, it is clear that the mother met with the father on a number of occasions in July, August and September of 2012, when X was present and had unsupervised contact with his father. The number and duration of these occasions, and how much interaction X had with his father, is in dispute. The meetings between the parents seem to have been focused on financial transactions, buying or ordering a birthday cake for X's first birthday, providing money for a pram to be bought, money being provided to the mother (£2,000) to invest in a property in Bulgaria. The parents met at a supermarket or in parks. However, there does not seem to have been much focus on X. X was present.
  8. In October 2012 the father received a short custodial sentence for an offence of harassment, the alleged victim being the proprietor of a computer information technology company with whom the father has an ongoing civil dispute over a website domain. From this time on there has been no communication or contact between X's parents, save for a letter sent by the father to the mother requiring her to bring X for contact with him whilst he was in prison and/or hospital in October of 2012.
  9. Contact after the end of September 2012 between the father and X has not taken place. This is because the father does not wish to have contact with his son which is supervised by the local authority. His relationship with X's social workers is non-existent. The father is unable to come to a working agreement with them about contact or to submit to supervision. X has not seen his father for eight months.
  10. The local authority submits that the evidence in this case establishes that the court has jurisdiction to make a care or supervision order pursuant to s. 31 of the Children Act 1989. There is a document entitled, "The final proposed composite threshold criteria" which appears in my bundle at page A179, the relevant facts being set out from A180. The facts recited run to three and a half pages of A4. I do not intend to read them into this judgment but direct that they should be annexed to it. I will, however, indicate the heads under which the local authority enumerates its concerns. Those headings are: the father's criminal history involving convictions for harassment, possession of an article with intent to damage or destroy property, which was petrol, and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence, and the father's mental ill-health, the mother's vulnerability and concerns about the parents' ability to prioritise X's welfare and to engage with professionals.
  11. The local authority's care plan for X is that he should reside with his mother and continue to be monitored and supported by the local authority. The local authority proposes that a s. 8 residence order is made in the mother's favour and it seeks a supervision order for 12 months, which it will review and consider renewing three months before the expiry of the order. In consultation with X's Guardian, and in the light of the recommendations of the expert professionals instructed to advise in this case, the local authority has perfected a detailed support transition plan to assist the mother and monitor X and his mother as they move from supported accommodation to being completely independent. That plan envisages fortnightly social work visits, six-weekly core group meetings, support in respect of domestic violence, funding childminding until X begins at nursery, counselling, budgeting and housing advice and provision. A family support worker has been identified to advise the mother in respect of her financial debt issues and other matters. A final amendment to the care plan envisages support and help to the mother in engaging in life story work with X so that he has a proper understanding of his mixed cultural and racial heritage.
  12. The local authority's care plan envisages no contact, whether direct or indirect, between X and his father. The local authority has reached this position having taken into account the recommendations of Dr. Oyebode, an adult psychiatrist, who has assessed the father and reviewed his medical and general practitioner records, and a child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Blincow, who has considered the risks posed by the father's untreated mental illness to X and the benefits of ongoing contact. Both have concluded that it is not in X's best interests to have direct contact with his father. The local authority contends that there is no practical way that indirect contact can be managed or maintained in the long term because of the need to preserve the confidentiality of X and his mother's whereabouts.
  13. The mother accepts that the court has jurisdiction to make a supervision order and she does not challenge any of the facts relied upon by the local authority in its threshold statement. She will accept a supervision order and has an excellent working relationship with the current social worker. The mother will continue to cooperate once the new social worker is allocated. She accepts the support transition plan so long as she is not placed at a hostel in England Lane in North London, where she and the father used to live and which is known to the father. She does not want X to have any contact with his father, whether direct or indirect. She seeks an order pursuant to s. 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 preventing the father from making s. 8 applications without the permission of the court in respect of X until his 16th birthday and an order or direction that she should only be notified of any such applications if permission is granted by the court and should not be served with applications for permission. The local authority supports the mother's submissions on that point.
  14. The father's position is clarified and crystallised in a position statement prepared on instructions by his counsel signed by him dated the 13th May 2013. In that document he challenges the facts relied upon by the local authority to establish the threshold criteria in so far as it relates to him. He in particular does not accept the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia that he has been given by various psychiatrists. He does not accept that there should be an order for no contact but asserts that he is sincere in his commitment to his son and that there is no evidence of his harming his son and that he would not do so under any circumstances. He points out that Dr. Blincow observed contact and commented that the contact was both good quality and natural. He also points out that informal contact was permitted by the mother between July and September of 2012. He states there is no need for supervision of his contact. He reminds the court that there is no issue of physical violence between himself and the mother, he has not been violent to her or to any previous partner. He has made provision for his son by giving the mother sums of money, including a sum of £2,000 to invest in a property in Bulgaria. He accepts that in 2004 he was mentally unwell and was admitted and treated in a mental hospital. He accepts that his illness was linked to his use of cocaine. He asserts that he has not used cocaine since 2004 and he has not taken any medication since that time. He has not presented as being floridly mentally unwell since 2005.
  15. He points out that despite knowing the whereabouts of the mother throughout the time that she has been in the community, he has not sought to see her against her will and has not visited her accommodation other than by her invitation. The father's primary case is that he should care for X himself and if not himself then his family in Sierra Leone should look after X. He argues that he and his family are better suited to care for X than the mother. He considers that the mother is financially vulnerable, is incompetent at budgeting, despite being in supported accommodation. He points out that she has lied to the local authority in respect of permitting informal contact between himself and X and that her motivation for doing that was to obtain money from him. He submits that the male partners that the mother has been involved with are unsuitable to be in contact with X. He also suggests that X has had a skin problem which suggests that the mother's provision of a healthy environment for him is in question. The father has always planned that he and X, and at one time the mother, should emigrate to the United States of America. He has won a Green Card lottery which would permit him the opportunity of living and working in the United States and that is his intention. He has supplied a statement from his sister, signed by her and by his parents, evidencing their commitment to X. The parents and sister state that they have had no physical face to face contact with the father since 1991 when he left Sierra Leone to come to this country but they have been in regular telephonic communication. The sister says that she believes her brother is not suffering from any mental illness. They say that the family in Sierra Leone is respectable and well-to-do. Photographs of the family home and of various family members were appended to that statement.
  16. The father also points out that he is capable of maintaining his own home, that he has no problems with personal hygiene and he has reasonable cooking skills. He asserts that he would be able to meet X's needs to a proper standard.
  17. X's Guardian supports the local authority's care plan for X. She is particularly concerned that the mother should continue to engage in therapy or counselling to help her continue to gain insight into her relationships and to acquire a self-protective, self-reliant way of life. The Guardian has scrutinised the proposed support transition plan, has instigated several amendments and is now satisfied that it properly reflects a reliable support package for the mother and X. The Guardian supports the recommendation that there should be no contact, whether direct or indirect, between X and his father. She can see no way in which a viable plan for future direct or indirect contact can be constructed or practically facilitated, particularly after the expiry of any period of supervision by the local authority. She supports the mother's application for an order pursuant to s. 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.
  18. I first of all consider the legal framework which I am required to apply in reaching my decisions and findings. In order to be satisfied that the court has jurisdiction to make a care or a supervision order in respect of a child it must be satisfied, (a) that the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm and, (b) that the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to the care given to the child or likely to be given to him if an order was not made not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to him. The local authority's evidence and the facts that they rely upon in satisfaction of those criteria is predicated on the basis of the risk of future harm as X has not suffered significant harm in his mother's care.
  19. Clearly, if the threshold is satisfied by the facts demonstrated by the local authority, upon whom the burden of proof rests, on a balance of probability, the court has jurisdiction to make a care or supervision order. Any such order must be made only if it is proportionate and necessary to protect X's welfare from the risk of significant harm identified and only to the extent that that risk presents itself.
  20. X's welfare is clearly the court's paramount consideration in all the decisions it makes in relation to his welfare and future upbringing. Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 sets out a number of factors, which are not exclusive, that the court must consider when analysing the evidence and conducting the balancing exercise it is required to conduct.
  21. Further in this case, clearly the issue of contact is a live issue between the parties. I am guided, both in that question and in the question relating to whether or not the court should exercise its discretion to make an order under s. 91(14), by having been referred by Ms. Spratling, counsel for mother, to the authority of Re S and Re E, a decision of the Court of Appeal given in August of 2006 by Lord Justice Wall and Lord Justice Thorpe. I am in particular guided by paragraph 87 in considering the issue of contact. At paragraph 87 Lord Justice Thorpe sets out the following principle:
  22. "The principal thrust of the extensive jurisprudence in this court on the subject of parental contact is that it is generally speaking in the interests of children to maintain a relationship with their absent parent unless there are compelling circumstances which render it contrary to their welfare to do so".

    He continues at paragraph 89,

    "Thus, in each case in which s. 91(14) is invoked it behoves the court to consider carefully what mischief the section is designed to address and in particular whether or not it is going to be possible at the end of a defined period to reinvestigate the question and to attempt the restoration of the relationship between the absent parent and the child".

    In paragraph 90 the court went on to point out the following,

    "Section 91(14) has been described as both draconian and flexible. Both descriptions are apt. Its use, however, has to be carefully controlled by the court as part of its overarching strategy, which is to preserve and foster relationships wherever possible. An order which is indeterminate or which is expressed to last until the 16th birthday of the relevant child is in effect an acknowledgement by the court that nothing more can be done. As we have already made clear, cases in which the court reaches the end of the road do exist and there are cases in which it is essential for the welfare of the children and the physical health and safety of the resident parent that an indefinite halt is called to litigation, but if the court has indeed reached that stage, it needs to spell out its reasons clearly so that the parents, and in particular the parent who is the subject of the s. 91(14) order, knows precisely where he or she stands and precisely what issues he or she has to address if an application for permission to apply is going to be possible".

  23. The mechanism proposed by Ms. Spratling in relieving the mother from being notified of any applications by the father for permission to apply for an order is approved at paragraph 92 of the judgment. The court stated,
  24. "We think a greater degree of flexibility is permissible when the question is whether or not a resident parent needs to be served in the first instance with an application for permission to apply. We think there is much sense in certain sensitive circumstances for the court to direct in the first instance that the application be not served on the other party until such time as the court has had the opportunity to consider it and to decide whether it is necessary for the other party to be served".

  25. That authority also makes it very plain that it is not possible to attach preconditions or prerequisites that a prospective applicant parent must demonstrate before being given permission under that section to make an application. Those are the principles of law which I will apply in reaching my decisions and conducting the balancing exercise in this case.
  26. The evidence that I have heard is contained in three lever arch files. I have read six statements by local authority social workers. I have read the care plan and the support and transition plan which is appended to it. I have read evidence filed by the local authority, which includes the police national computer records, criminal records of the father, suitably amended to excise a caution for common assault which is in the process of being expunged from his record. I have read child protection case conference minutes, a pre-birth assessment of the parents' situation, a risk assessment of the father's contact and a viability assessment of him. I have read the contact records where I have been directed to consider them. I have also read a probation report prepared for the sentencing exercise carried out by the Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court in October of 2012 and a psychiatric report prepared for the same purpose in relation to a recent conviction of the father for harassment that I have referred to earlier in this judgment. I have read parts of the report of the mother and baby assessment unit, Dr. Guishard-Pine's reports, Dr. Oyebode's reports, including historical reports in relation to the father's mental illnesses and admissions to hospital, from Dr. Collis and others. I have read Dr. Blincow's two reports and I have considered the minutes of the professionals meeting which took place in January this year concerning X's future care. I have read the mother's eight statements.
  27. I have considered any number of self-prepared position statements submitted to the court by the father, mostly, unfortunately, addressed to minor procedural irregularities. The flavour of them can be gauged by picking almost randomly from any of those documents. I begin, just to consider their characteristics, by looking at the position statement dated the 22nd January 2013 prepared by the father himself. He begins:
  28. "Indeed, this position statement is written by me in respect of the above stated case hereto. Since I will truly and sincerely deny all the de facto allegations as were made by the illusive and conniving contents of the position statement dated the 2nd October 2012 by the applicant [that is the local authority] and the statement dated the 15th of the 12th of 2012 by [ the social worker] in this. Thus I so wish to supply the court with the attached herewith as the contents of it might indicate to the court truly that there were some clear aspects of cartels that from many known sites of discrepancies in such statements of the applicant and its social worker in some inherent disguised acts and intents to mislead matters of facts and abuse rights in these proceedings thereof, so I will state as follows below this".

    Mr. S is capable of carrying on in that vein for many pages and it can be seen that it is very difficult to make sense of what he is trying to communicate.

  29. I have read the Guardian's two reports in this matter, one prepared in April of 2012 and a report dated the 8th May 2013. In oral evidence I have heard from Dr. Oyebode, Dr. Blincow, two social workers, the mother, the father and the Guardian. I have, of course, read and considered and listened to all that evidence and will take it all into account in carrying out the discretionary balancing exercise that I am required to perform. I will be largely helped by examining the evidence that I have both heard and read through the lens of the welfare checklist. Before I carry out that exercise I will consider a brief background history, which is largely undisputed in terms of historic matters.
  30. The mother was born and brought up in Bulgaria. Her father died in 2005. She experienced a difficult and abusive childhood. There was domestic violence between her parents and she was subjected to sexual abuse by an uncle over an extended period, which included full vaginal penetration. She has two younger brothers. When she was only 19, in 2008, she moved to Scotland in search of work. She was employed for a period and then at 21 years old she went back to Bulgaria for a holiday, where she experienced a fit. She is diagnosed with epilepsy, which is well managed by medication. As a result of failing to return to work, she lost her job. She remained in Bulgaria until she was 22 and then came to the United Kingdom, to London, in 2010. She came together with a partner, a boyfriend. She met the father during that initial period on a bus, where he noticed her suitcase and her foreign language and/or accent and began asking her about her country of origin. They struck up a conversation, in which the father stated that he had a girlfriend who was Bulgarian. The mother hoped that she might be able to establish some Bulgarian contacts in London. It ended with the mother and her partner spending the night at the father's house. The mother did find accommodation with her partner but that relationship deteriorated. Her partner seemed to have been behaving in a bizarre way, causing her trouble. She separated from her partner. Her uncle came from Bulgaria and they both moved in with the father in October 2010. At the beginning of that arrangement it appears that the mother and her uncle were sleeping in the sitting room and the father was occupying the bedroom. However, matters developed to a point where the mother engaged in a physical sexual relationship with the father. She discovered that she was pregnant. This was a surprise to both the mother and the father, although they were pleased with that development. I understand that the mother's uncle left the accommodation and perhaps returned to Bulgaria in May of 2011.
  31. It is clear from that history that the mother has had a difficult upbringing and experiences which have rendered her vulnerable in terms of self-protection, interpersonal relationships and that in London she has been isolated by having relatively poor English, being alone and having no friends or support network to help her. She was entirely dependent on the father in the later parts of her pregnancy.
  32. The mother has been described by Dr. Guishard-Pine as being a person who is very optimistic in her outlook and that she always considers the best in people. Dr. Guishard-Pine was pleasantly surprised by the mother's competence and practicality but she noted that the mother had a trusting and naïve quality which might render her vulnerable to relationships of an abusive or predatory nature.
  33. That history brings us to the eve of X's birth. There were obvious difficulties concerning the accommodation. The father was served with notice to quit. He had difficulty in accepting the validity of that notice and refused to leave the property. As I have said, that involved the police and court bailiffs evicting the parents in the late stages of the mother's pregnancy.
  34. After X's birth the father had some contact with X in the hospital. He missed the actual event of the birth but had been present in the labour ward before X's birth and fairly immediately afterwards. His interaction with X was seen to be gentle and appropriate. However, he was also agitated and confrontational with hospital staff. Before I continue to narrate the story of X's life, I shall consider one of the central issues in this case and the evidence in support of it: that is the concern about the father's mental health issues and the risks that they pose to X.
  35. The history begins with a report from Dr. Collis. It is signed as if from Dr. De Souza but it is clear from the contents of the report that it was prepared by Dr. Ian Collis, who is a consultant adult psychiatrist. The report is dated the 2nd February 2005. It is a thorough and lengthy report and it gives the history of the father's life. He describes how the father's family are Muslim, although the father informed the court that his father is a Christian, that they are a well-to-do family, his father having been a fisherman, and also having owned a petrol garage, that there is no history of mental illness in the father's family, as far as the father reported, and that he experienced a happy and trouble free childhood. His only difficulty appears to have been that he was required to move on a number of occasions as a child and found those moves difficult. He appears to have made reasonable progress in his education. He initially worked with his family at his father's petrol station but in 1991, when he was a young man, he left Sierra Leone and came to London on a student visa. He attended various educational establishments, beginning by studying computer studies and then changing to studying fashion. Eventually in 2002 he embarked upon a law degree at Lambeth College. He found that challenging. He also at that time began to get into trouble with neighbours. He revealed that he was married. He met his wife in February 2002 and married her in July 2002. However, the relationship was very short-lived. They separated in December 2002. He said that she was someone who abused alcohol and was violent to him. There is also evidence to suggest that she was unfaithful to him. He is now, I believe, divorced.
  36. He said his first experience of illicit drug use was in 1997 when he started smoking cannabis. This continued until 2002. He felt that the cannabis use made him more relaxed and helped him to sleep. In July 2003 he reported to Dr. Collis that as a result of stress, secondary to neighbourhood disputes and his marriage breakdown, he started using crack cocaine. He has later asserted that he was forced to use crack cocaine against his will, but this was his account of his history to Dr. Collis. He was experiencing the problem getting out of control and he described using between £40 and £60 a day on crack cocaine until June of 2004.
  37. In July 2004 his flat was surrounded by police and he was seen on the balcony with petrol. He pleaded guilty to possession of petrol at his flat with intent to cause a fire. He seems to have had a history of concerning offending. In 1998, for example, he received an 18-month suspended sentence of imprisonment for pointing an imitation firearm at a worker in a housing office. He said that the witness had misidentified him and that he was wrongly convicted.
  38. In January of 2005 he was admitted to hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act as a result of an incident at his flat, where it is suggested property in his flat was destroyed either by himself or by his neighbours and that he was seen allegedly in possession of a hammer destroying or smashing windows. He disputes this, and there is no conclusive evidence on the point. It resulted though in his admission to hospital. His first presentation to psychiatric services was in July of 2004, when he presented at the Accident & Emergency Department of University College Hospital wearing a tinfoil helmet on his head and complaining that the Government were sending electrical beams into his head as a result of the poetry he was writing about politics. I pause here to say that it is indeed true that the father writes poetry, some of which has gained admiration and respect and some of it is political in nature. On his examination he showed somatic hallucinations of electricity in his head and the belief that the Government was beaming electricity in by cables and then monitoring him. That examination was carried out on 25th July. The following day he absconded from the ward. That was followed by the incident on 29th July involving petrol.
  39. He had a number of persecutory delusions about the British Government and the police at that time. He said he had last used crack cocaine on the day that he was arrested. He was detained in hospital under s. 3 of the Mental Health Act. He was discharged home on 27th September, apparently well. However, he was readmitted on 7th October, where he appeared to display some insight. He was well enough to be discharged home on 6th January 2005. However, thereafter, the incident with the hammer and the police occurred.
  40. He was described on 17th January 2005 as irritable, guarded and suspicious. He denied non-compliance with medication or ongoing drug use. Dr. Collis was clear when he said,
  41. "Given the history and current presentation, I believe [the father] currently warrants a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. His current admission followed his arrest having been witnessed smashing his own flat [I accept that the father denies doing so]. He has once again presented with ongoing persecutory ideas involving his neighbours and the police and, more worryingly, he had vehemently denied that he could be capable of such an act. This lack of insight into his actions, and also into his mental illness, is of particular concern. Regarding risk, I believe that [the father] presents a clear risk of harm to others through verbal and physical violence. There have been a number of violent incidents recorded and he has secured violent criminal convictions. There appears to be a clear link between his mental illness and the degree of risk he poses".

  42. Dr. Collis considered whether instead of a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia he should instead consider a diagnosis of drug induced psychosis. However, although he conceded that there appeared to be a link between at the time the father began using crack cocaine and the emergence of psychotic symptoms, he considered it might be reasonable to suggest that the use of cocaine may have influenced the emergence of an enduring mental illness, the psychotic symptoms having persisted during periods when the father has not had access to illicit drugs. This would argue against a diagnosis of drug induced psychosis and more towards an enduring mental illness.
  43. The father's case is that that is a misdiagnosis and that he was suffering from drug induced psychosis which has resolved itself into complete remission and that he is no longer mentally ill. That is clearly not the opinion that Dr. Collis had at that time, nor is it the opinion of psychiatrists who have subsequently examined him. In 2009 there was a brief admission to the Solent Ward, where he was considered, in a discharge summary, by Dr. Leah Wooster. He was described, when assessed on the ward, as being paranoid, engaging in a large number of legal cases and appeared to have no insight into his illness. He was very accusatory about staff on the ward and staff at St. Mungo's, which was an establishment where he had been living. On admission he was anxious in mood and manner and declined to take his medication. At that point he told the assessing doctor that he had not taken any medication since May 2008 rather than 2004, which is his current case. On that occasion he was insisting that he had been forced by neighbours to smoke crack cocaine for three days straight.
  44. Dr. Oyebode considered the correct diagnosis for the father in a report prepared for this court, which was submitted to the court in December 2011. The father made a number of criticisms of Dr. Oyebode, for example, some factual background details which were inaccurate. Dr. Oyebode pointed out that they had been supplied to him through his letter of instruction and were not his own errors. Further, those errors had nothing to do with the formulation of his psychiatric diagnosis. He pointed out that he was a fully qualified recognised consultant adult psychiatrist who was employed by the East London National Health Trust and that he did forensic psychiatric work in his spare time. His report, and indeed his oral evidence, was clear and stark. He says (I am now looking at E287, paragraph 235),
  45. "I consider that [the father] suffers from paranoid schizophrenia as defined in the 10th Edition of the Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders by the World Health Organisation. In my opinion, when suffering the acute symptoms of his illness by virtue of his disturbed mental state and his behaviour he is not in a position to care safely and adequately for X, indeed X could potentially become a victim of his aggressive behaviour, particularly as he gets older. The paranoid nature of his illness is such that it affects his interpretation of events, reading meanings into neutral acts and at times acting on his delusional beliefs, as evidenced in his background history. This leads me to conclude that he may not be able to participate meaningfully in a residential assessment along with the mother as potentially neutral events during such an assessment could become incorporated into his delusional beliefs upon which he may then act in a way that he has done in the past. I am concerned that X could be incorporated into his delusional beliefs which potentially could result in him becoming a victim of his behaviour and acting out on such delusional beliefs if X is placed in the joint care of the father and the mother. I am also concerned about the extent to which the mother can protect X from this. I consider the father requires anti-psychotic medication, which has been beneficial to him in the past and has resulted in a relatively stable mental state in him when he has complied with his treatment and taken his medication. I envisage that he will need to take his anti-psychotic medication for the foreseeable future. He will also need to abstain from multi-substance misuse which has resulted in a deterioration in his mental state".

    I interject that I have no evidence that the father has taken cocaine since 2004. There was some suggestion that he may have taken cannabis more recently, but currently he does not appear to be taking any non-prescription drugs.

  46. Dr. Oyebode continued,
  47. "In my opinion, he has no insight into the nature of his illness, his need to take medication in order to maintain the stability of his mental state and the risk he poses to others in a deteriorated mental state by virtue of his aggressive and violent behaviour, including his history of conflicts with the law. He also does not understand the adverse effects of his behaviour in a deteriorated mental state on others and how threatening he can present".

  48. In his oral evidence Dr. Oyebode described the father as being a persistent irritant to everybody although not floridly paranoid, that his paranoid and aggressive interaction with others was persistent and that he was "simmering", and Dr. Oyebode considered that he presented a present risk of aggressive and threatening behaviour and a potential risk for physical violence.
  49. Dr. Blincow also considered the father's presentation and its impact upon X. Dr. Blincow impressively came from this perspective. At paragraph 4.4.1 at E442 he states that which is known and which the Court of Appeal has reiterated on many occasions,
  50. "There are the general benefits of contact with an estranged parent. These can be appreciated in terms of the short and long term effects. In the short term there is the presence of an interested parent who can show commitment and involvement as well as offer the child resources, for example, in supporting their education and socialisation. This can benefit a child in terms of a variety of indices of child wellbeing but also in terms of predictive power for future development as it assists in facilitating a wider and more secure pattern of attachments. In the longer term there are benefits in terms of a sense of belonging, identity and personal formation, all of which feed into better outcomes in later adolescence and adulthood along a range of dimensions of functioning, in other words, mental health, psychological wellbeing, relationships, parenting, etc".

  51. He also took into account that the father was able to show positive affection to X and the contacts, when they happened, and when the father was accepting of the conditions of contact, the quality of the contact in itself can be good.
  52. However, at paragraph 4.1.1 and following. Dr. Blincow then considered the disadvantages and risks involved in direct contact between X and his father,
  53. "It is my view that [the father] is unlikely to be able to manage regular contact with X under any circumstances. The main reason undermining his continuous involvement with his son is his tendency to become preoccupied with his own agenda. This in turn focuses on injustices he believes he has suffered. I would surmise from the documentation that at times of stress it is likely that such ideas of persecution become frankly delusional and [the father] then qualifies for a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. However, even at times when he is less stressed he continues to show paranoid ideas bordering on delusions. Without treatment he is likely to go on with such preoccupations. Supervision of contact is likely to remain a stressor for [the father] in that it imposes conditions on his behaviour that aggravate that sense of injustice. While X may occupy a special place in [the father's] affections, I do not think that this can be relied upon over time as a protective factor. As he grows, and particularly as he becomes more independent minded, he is just as likely as the mother, and in time any other person, to become the object of [the father's] paranoid ideas. The risk of aggressive and rejecting behaviour, therefore, is likely to increase as X develops. The most likely risk is of inconsistency of the father attending and X being let down. There is also a risk of exposing X to his father being in conflict with others. There is the risk in time of X becoming the object of his father's persecutory ideas and also exposed to ideas that are significantly distorted explanations of reality that X will need compensatory help to have addressed".

  54. When asked the question, "Do the benefits to X outweigh any risks identified in contact?" Dr. Blincow was of this opinion,
  55. "It is a very unstable situation as far as contact is concerned. The only solution in the short term and that might offer some chance of it being sufficiently protective for X, as well as maximising the benefits, is for contact to be, if the is plan for a relatively infrequent albeit regular contact pattern, each contact could be for a longer period of time than currently and involve activities that are likely to be stimulating and enjoyable for both X and his father. I am suggesting that regular but infrequent contact of somewhere in the region of every two months initially could be tried but this would need to be reviewed over time".

  56. Dr. Blincow considered that the father's ability to engage consistently with and cooperate with professionals in respect of contact arrangements to be very limited and inconsistent. He considered he was only likely to engage on his own terms and with occasional periods of better cooperation but subject to the threat of sudden disruption. The pattern of the last year is likely to continue into the future,
  57. "The only factor that might alter is for [the father] to engage in treatment, but I would conclude, as others have done, that the prospects for such a development are highly unlikely in the foreseeable future".

    He considered that to remove supervision of contact would be a high risk strategy, it might help in the short term in promoting the father's engagement but it entailed considerable risks, including exposing X to father's conflict with others and as X develops his exposure to the father's persecutory delusional thinking either as the object of that thinking or by being exposed to his father's distorted perception of reality.

  58. That was Dr. Blincow's opinion in the summer of 2012. Events that followed, including unauthorised contact between mother, father and X, and the father's disengagement with contact after September of 2012, resulted in Dr. Blincow revising his opinion about the viability of even infrequent supervised direct contact. He was very concerned about the mother's vulnerability to the father and to pressure from him and that certainly until recently she had not been able fully to appreciate the grave risk posed by the father's behaviour to X. Dr. Blincow felt that the mother was too optimistic and too accepting of the father's behaviour. She has, in that respect, changed. In her oral evidence to the court she was clear that the father's behaviour was indeed unacceptable, abusive and frightening and that shouting was a form of abuse. This was a move forward for her in her perception.
  59. Dr. Blincow in his oral evidence was able to expand upon the risk factors that he identified in his written reports. He was able to reflect upon the effect that the father's illness has on his ability to emphasise with others or to enter into functional emotional relationships. Dr. Oyebode was of the view that the father's focus was on himself and that he was, in the true sense of the words, self-centred. Both doctors considered him to be very preoccupied with his own issues which had an obsessional and paranoid flavour.
  60. Dr. Blincow described how in his interview with the father he was very difficult to deflect from his various idée fixe and that he was not capable of entertaining other points of view than his own. Dr. Oyebode pointed out how most adults respond to the father by placatory behaviour, tolerant placatory behaviour designed to draw his fire, and asked what would happen if X challenges his father. This couples with the risk to X perceived by Dr. Blincow if X were to become the object of his father's paranoid ideas. A recent example of the father's capacity to display aggressive and intimidating behaviour was experienced by the probation officer who prepared the pre-sentence report in October of 2012. She describes the following, at E482,
  61. "The father swung from polite to irate during our interview, shouting. This is due to his frustration at what he believes is an unjust situation in terms of the victim stealing from him [this is the alleged theft of monies obtained from his American website]. He was also irritable at times towards Roxanne Timiss, mental health practitioner, during his appointment with her. The father presented as intimidating during both interviews. The current offence indicates problems with temper control, understanding other people's views, impulsivity and the tendency to be aggressive. The father's inclination to 'take matters into his own hands' by attending the victim's shop and being abusive and leaving threatening phone calls shows deficits in his problem solving skills. In both Roxanne Timiss and my assessment, the father would be difficult to engage with under a supervision requirement. His offending behaviour, that he does not take much if any personal responsibility for, is best addressed by his engagement with mental health services. The father truly believes that he is innocent in this case and plans to appeal his conviction. He did not display or disclose any pro criminal attitudes as such during the interview. However, the threatening nature of the offence indicates that the father holds some antisocial attitudes. He felt justified in his approach towards the victim due to feeling that the victim has done him wrong. He indicated during the interview that he believes the police and the courts are involved in some form of conspiracy against him. It was clear that the father does not hold much trust in the police. He feels that he has not done anything wrong and he still denies that he behaved in a threatening manner towards the victim".

    I would say at this point that the father successfully appealed his initial conviction. A retrial was directed and he was reconvicted.

  62. The father was also assessed by Dr. Lekkos on 18th October 2012 in preparation for the sentencing exercise at the magistrates' court. He was detained in hospital for the purposes of being considered for sentencing between 27th September and 19th October 2012. Dr. Lekkos describes that since 2009 the father has remained in Camden in various accommodations. He erratically engaged with the Camden Mental Health Trust and mostly around practical issues. He had difficulty in maintaining his accommodation and had to change address on a number of occasions. He continued to engage in legal cases and though he presented as largely functioning in the community, there was resistance to consider medication when offered. Dr. Lekkos did not dispute the previous diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
  63. In the light of that wealth of evidence, on the balance of probabilities, it is clearly demonstrated that the father suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which is a lasting illness with periods of relapse and remission. It is a lifelong condition which requires treatment and without treatment there is likely to be a worsening of his condition, Dr, Oyebode opined. It is clear from the very careful consideration given to the issue of contact by Dr. Blincow, and the proper position from which he began his consideration of the risks and advantages to X in having contact with his father, that the father poses a significant and continuing risk to X. He poses a high risk of emotional abuse and a medium risk of physical abuse. X clearly needs to be protected from those risks and I consider that there is a real possibility that cannot sensibly be ignored based on the factual and opinion evidence that I have been given to consider that X will suffer both physical and emotional harm if he has direct contact with his father, for the reasons identified so succinctly by Dr. Blincow in his report.
  64. It follows that the threshold criteria relied upon by the local authority is demonstrated and that the father poses a risk to X and that he may pose an ongoing risk to the mother and her management of X during his childhood. I have, therefore, a jurisdiction to make a care or supervision order and I must consider where X is best placed to promote his welfare interests and whether or not a public law order is required to secure that placement.
  65. I am now going to consider the welfare checklist. I consider first the ascertainable wishes and feelings of X considered in the light of his age and understanding. X is 22 months old. He is a charming, happy outgoing little boy who is meeting his developmental milestones, is adventurous, very active and enjoys socialising with others. That was the description of him given to me by his current social worker. He is clearly well attached to his mother. That attachment was particularly demonstrated in a contact session on 30th July 2012 when X found it very difficult to be comforted when his mother left the contact room where the father was enjoying contact with X. She had to return to the room on two occasions because X was clearly too distressed to do without her presence. That is a clear demonstration of attachment behaviour. In the end the father's only strategy was to rock X until he fell asleep and he slept for the rest of the contact. X clearly is flourishing in his mother's care, according to the evidence that has been filed. His wishes and feelings would be to maintain and develop his relationship with his mother and to remain in her care.
  66. His physical, emotional and educational needs are those of a happy, well developing little boy for security, stability, nurture, stimulation and love. His mother has been capable of giving him those things provided she can protect her own environment, maintain her own stability, both emotionally and financially, and in terms of accommodation and continue to prioritise X's needs. I consider the likely effect on X of any change in his circumstances. Clearly, were he separated from his mother, to be placed, for example, with his father, or even more dramatically, in Sierra Leone, there would be a significant loss for him. He would lose his primary carer and the most significant figure in his life. He has no appreciable relationship with his father. That was conceded by Dr. Blincow when asked. He has had sporadic and fractured contact with his father and has not seen his father at all for the last eight months. Dr. Blincow conceded that there would be no relationship there and that it would be a question of re-establishing a relationship between X and his father. Therefore, to place X away from his mother and in his father's care, and for his father then to propose to add X to his Green Card and take him to the United States of America, would cause X significant emotional harm and would not be conducive to his wellbeing. Likewise, to remove X from his mother and place him with his extended family, who are strangers to him, in Sierra Leone would be a shock of a magnitude difficult to contemplate and would cause him very significant harm. This is not to say anything critical of the love or support that his family in Sierra Leone might be able to provide in practical terms but the culture shock and the complete change of his primary relationship would be a drastic step which could only bring him lasting emotional harm. I can see no necessity for inflicting such a change upon X.
  67. I have, in considering X in the round, considered his age, sex, background and characteristics. I have also already considered any harm that he is at risk of suffering, and I have made findings to that effect. I now consider how capable each of his parents is, or any other person in relation to whom it is relevant, of meeting his needs.
  68. The father asserts that he is best able to look after X and to meet his welfare needs. The father has no other children. He has no experience of parenting. He has never lived with X. He has had very limited contact with him. Therefore, I cannot see any rational basis for his assertion that he would provide better care to X than X's mother.
  69. X's mother has been rigorously assessed. She has been subjected to a detailed, thorough residential assessment. She has been monitored for over a year in the community, in supported accommodation, where she has a key worker and where social workers are on hand to examine her ability to care for her son. There is no concern about her practical day to day care of X whatsoever. There are concerns about her financial vulnerability and her historic inability to budget, though I remind myself that she was for a time unable to claim benefits as a foreign national in this country and struggled to survive. She has demonstrated a financial reliance at times on the father which caused her to compromise X's welfare when she permitted Mr. Smith at least to see X in an unsupervised setting whilst she and the father discussed financial matters. She has received £2,000 from the father, which he now seeks to retrieve. Given his litigious nature, that may have exposed her to a future risk that he will at some stage seek to take legal proceedings against her.
  70. Dr. Blincow has expressed concern that in some situations the mother may not prioritise X's needs over her own. He does not consider that that is because she does not care for X or have concern about his wellbeing but that sometimes she is not able to identify where her needs and X's differ. She needs continued guidance and support in this task. She is still isolated, young and needs continuing support. Each of the experts at the professionals meeting was concerned about the thoroughly untested nature of the mother and X embarking upon wholly independent living and they felt that a very firm support package should be in place. This is endorsed by X's Guardian. That support package has now been devised and its proposals are likely to promote X's welfare and assist the mother in her quest for independence, self-protection and self-reliance.
  71. I have briefly considered the expression of love, support and a wish to care for X from his extended family in Sierra Leone, but I do not consider a family placement should take priority in any sense over a placement with a parent who is the primary carer and I have already considered the negative impact that such a change would have on X's wellbeing.
  72. It seems to me, therefore, in considering what is in X's best welfare interests, it is clear from the evidence of all the professionals concerned that it is in his best interests to continue to be looked after by his mother and that she should be supported and monitored by the local authority by way of a supervision order, which is a proportionate constructive way of promoting X's best interests and protecting him from potential harm in the future.
  73. I now have to consider whether or not it is proportionate to make an order that there should be no contact between X and his father. It is, of course, an order which is very rare for a court to make and I, like Dr. Blincow, have started from the position that it is usually better for a child to be able to enjoy a positive and full relationship with each of his or her parents. However, for the reasons that I have already set out in some detail in this judgment, the risks that the father poses to X, both now and increasingly in the future as he becomes more independent and has his own view of the world, are such to cause him significant harm, as I have found.
  74. Therefore, in this very unusual and exceptional case, it is in X's best welfare interests that he should have no contact with his father. I have considered whether or not there should be indirect contact between the father and his son. In many cases that would be the obvious minimum that one might seek to direct in order to promote some knowledge of X's identity, his cultural and racial African heritage and his knowledge of who he is himself, who his father is. However, during the course of the hearing we have strained to try to identify a practical way in which such contact could be managed. It might be managed for the duration of a supervision order but thereafter the local authority could not provide a letter box facility. Enquiries have been made of CAFCASS to see whether they would be prepared on a long term basis, rather than on an intervention basis, to provide a letter box facility and CAFCASS is unable to do so. I know of no independent organisation capable of doing such a thing, and it is clear to me, notwithstanding the father's assertions that he has not approached the mother against her will, and would not do so, and has not contacted her since September, I consider that the risk of informing the father of the mother and X's whereabouts too great to embark upon. The father is not consistent in his points of view. He has during the course of these proceedings changed his position on a number of occasions in quite a fundamental way. He has from time to time maintained that X should be brought up by his mother, on other occasions he has maintained that he wants nothing more to do with his son, nor with the proceedings. He has vacillated about contact. His current position has been his position only since relatively recently. Therefore, I cannot rely upon his assertions that he will continue not to put pressure on the mother to permit him to have direct contact with X. He clearly feels strongly about his son and although he has not been able to demonstrate a consistent commitment to X, none-the-less, from time to time he may become quite preoccupied by the idea of pursuing contact with him.
  75. Having concluded, therefore, that it is in X's best interests, exceptionally, to direct that there should be no contact, direct or indirect, between the father and his son, I turn to consider whether or not I should impose an order under s. 91(14) of the Children Act 1989. I have already directed myself to the relevant paragraphs of the authority to which I have been referred (Re S and
  76. Re E) and considered the nature of a s. 91(14) order, particularly one that is directed to continue over a lengthy period of time until X's 16th birthday.

  77. This is a case in which there are exceptional circumstances. The Court of Appeal in the case of S and E were considering private law cases in which, although there had been considerable difficulties, some of them psychiatric, concerning the parents, they had not reached the threshold of significant harm. In this case that threshold has been crossed. Therefore, it renders this case exceptional by definition since the risk of significant harm is an exceptional feature of any case. Secondly, for experienced mental health professionals to identify a risk such that contact should be prevented between a parent and child also demonstrates the exceptional nature of this case. I further take into account that the father has been refusing medication for a considerable period of time and that the considered medical opinion of Dr. Oyebode and other treating psychiatrists is that there is unlikely to be any significant improvement in his condition unless he submits to treatment means that the situation that exists now will continue for the foreseeable future, on a balance of probability, until treatment is undergone. Indeed, Dr. Blincow thought that it was highly unlikely that there would be any improvement without such treatment and Dr. Oyebode concurred in that opinion.
  78. I also consider the father's litigation history. He has ongoing litigation between himself and Camden in which he is the respondent to possession proceedings which have been ongoing since the eviction in 2011. Alarmingly, he has recently brought about the service of a quasi witness summons -- I say "quasi" because it does not appear to carry a court stamp -- through the mother's solicitor on the mother requiring her attendance at those possession proceedings at the Clerkenwell & Shoreditch County Court later this month. He is engaged in continuing High Court litigation in respect of his allegation that the victim of his recent harassment conviction has misappropriated his website domain and is defrauding him of large sums of money. He is very preoccupied about that litigation, as is evinced by the report prepared by Ms. Thatcher, his probation officer. He habitually disputes all facts alleged which in any way cast him in an unfavourable light. That includes subsidiary disputes in this litigation about altercations with security guards and local authority staff. He has a relish for litigation. He has chosen to represent himself throughout these proceedings. I have myself heard innumerable applications made by him on spurious legal points where he appears to enjoy the experience of appearing in a litigation forum. I consider it highly likely that unless he is restrained he will make a number of vexatious applications to this court. He has been described by Dr. Lekkos, who most recently examined him in October of last year, as preoccupied and vexatious in relation to litigation. The mother and X need to be protected from the father's activities in this forum. I consider they need protection for as long as it takes against such disruption. The father's case, even as presented as skilfully as it has been by experienced counsel, is in itself without much merit and I see no reason why X and his mother should be subjected to endless litigation. They need stability and security.
  79. The court will expect a significant change in the father's mental health and functioning if it is to entertain an application for contact. This is not a prerequisite, it is merely commonsense, as pointed out by Lord Justice Thorpe in his judgment in Re S and Re E. What the court said on that topic is contained at paragraph 79 of the judgment,
  80. "It is self-evident that a party who is the subject of an order under s. 91(14) which has been made because of particular conduct by that party must have addressed that conduct in his application for permission to apply as to warrant a renewed judicial investigation or to present an arguable case".

  81. I consider, therefore, exceptionally that in this case the court has come to a point where nothing more can be done for the foreseeable future to promote conduct between X and his father. Indeed, to do so would be contrary to X's welfare interests. Therefore, I am exceptionally prepared to exercise my discretion under s. 91(14) and impose an order requiring the father to seek the permission of the court before making any application under s. 8 of the Children Act 1989 or any application under s. 13 for relocation, and I direct that that requirement should remain in force until X attains his 16th year. I direct that the mother should not be served with notice of any application for permission by the father until the court has considered that application and the question of whether or not the mother should have notice.
  82. Finally, I direct and order that the mother may not remove X from the jurisdiction of England and Wales without the prior agreement of the London Borough of Camden during the term of any supervision order, and that will include any supervision order which is extended. I also require a recital to be placed at the front of the residence order and supervision order that the parties recognise that X is habitually resident in England and Wales and that the Family Court is the court of competent jurisdiction to exercise the welfare jurisdiction as to X's future care and upbringing.
  83. That concludes my judgment.

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