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England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions >> London Borough of Camden D (Mother) & Ors  EWHC B35 (Fam) (17 May 2013)
Cite as:  EWHC B35 (Fam)
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42-49 High Holborn, WC1
B e f o r e :
|LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN
|- and -
|(1) D (mother)
(2) S (father)
(3) X (the child by the Child's Guardian)
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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 ©
"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".
"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".
"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.
"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".
"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.
"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".
"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".
"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".
"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".
"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.
"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.
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.
"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".