If you found BAILII useful today, could you please make a contribution?

Your donation will help us maintain and extend our databases of legal information. No contribution is too small. If every visitor this month donates, it will have a significant impact on BAILII's ability to continue providing free access to the law.

Thank you very much for your support!


BAILII [Home] [Databases] [World Law] [Multidatabase Search] [Help] [Feedback]

England and Wales Family Court Decisions (other Judges)


You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Family Court Decisions (other Judges) >> X, Re [2015] EWFC B168 (12 May 2015)
URL: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/OJ/2015/B168.html
Cite as: [2015] EWFC B168

[New search] [Context] [View without highlighting] [Printable RTF version] [Help]


No. BTP1100110

IN THE FAMILY COURT AT BARNET

Regents Park Road
London N3 1BQ
12th May 2015

B e f o r e :

HER HONOUR JUDGE LEVY
(In Private)

____________________

RE: X

____________________

Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & CO.
(a trading name of Opus 2 International Limited)
Official Court Reporters and Audio Transcribers
5 Chancery Lane, London EC4A 1BL
Tel: 020 7831 5627 Fax: 020 7831 7737
info@beverleynunnery.com

____________________

A P P E A R A N C E S
MISS F. WILEY QC (instructed by Setfords Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Applicant (Father).
THE FIRST RESPONDENT (Mother) was In Person but did not attend the hearing.
MS. J. LONNEN (Solicitor, of Eskinazi & Co.) appeared on behalf of the Guardian.

____________________

HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT
____________________

Crown Copyright ©

    JUDGE LEVY:

    1 Introduction.

  1. I am giving judgment following the final hearing in private law proceedings which concern one child, X, born on 2 November 2009, and is five and a half. The applicant is his father, the respondent is his mother.
  2. On 3rd April 2012 District Judge Marin appointed a guardian for X pursuant to Rule 16(4) of Family Procedure Rules 2010. Tracey Clarke of CAFCASS has been X's  guardian for nearly three years. His solicitor is Jacinta Lonnen.
  3. Summary.

  4. The parents met in 2004, married in 2009 and were divorced in 2013. On 6th November 2011 the father left the mother, taking X with him. X has remained in the father's care since then.
  5. The father and the guardian have concerns about the mother's mental health and behaviour. The mother asserts that she has recovered from post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") and is well.
  6. There is an order for X to have contact with his mother, supervised at RH Contact Centre, once a fortnight for three hours. The last contact took place on 24th January 2015.
  7. 2 Applications and issues.

    The Children Act 1989.

  8. On 11th November 2011 the father made an application for a residence order and an order that X's contact with his mother be supervised.
  9. The mother's application to Edmonton County Court for residence and contact orders was consolidated with the father's application. On 20th January 2012 she made a further application to Barnet County Court for an interim contact order and prohibited steps orders to prevent X from being removed from the jurisdiction. The mother did not file her final evidence and did not attend the final hearing, (although she has attended for this judgment) but she made her views known to the court and the parties through email correspondence and in her written submissions. She continues to seek an order that X shall live with her.
  10. On 11th November 2014 the father applied for an order suspending the mother's contact after she accused him of digitally penetrating X. He did not pursue the application at the time but his position at the final hearing was that I should order no contact. He seeks prohibited steps orders preventing the mother from removing X from his school, the contact centre (if contact continues) and the jurisdiction.
  11. On 24th March 2015, in a position statement for a pre-hearing review on that date, the father invited me to consider making an order pursuant to s.91(14) of the Children Act 1989. In the course of the final hearing his counsel asked me to make a number of findings of fact in respect of the mother's behaviour, and she indicated that in the future the father may seek an order abrogating the mother's parental responsibility for X.
  12. The guardian supports the father's application for an order that X shall continue to live with him. In her case analysis, dated 8th April 2015, she recommended that X should have contact with his mother once a month, supervised at RH but, having heard the father's evidence, she revised her recommendation to contact six times per year. The guardian supports the father's application for a s. 91(14) order.
  13. The Family Law Act 1996.

  14. On 29th December 2014, the mother applied for a non-molestation order against the father. District Judge Johns adjourned the application to this final hearing. The father opposes the application and seeks an order that the mother pay his costs.
  15. 3 The Hearing.

    Representation.

  16. The mother was publicly funded until August 2014 when her certificate was embargoed while the Legal Aid Agency carried out a further assessment as a result of an improvement in her financial circumstances. This was one of the reasons for adjourning the final hearing from December 2014 to April 2015, but by the date of the final hearing the situation had not been resolved and the mother's certificate remained embargoed.
  17. I note that the mother has been privately represented in relation to other matters which have run in parallel to these proceedings, namely at hearings before the Court of Protection in 2013, in respect of an application for a special guardianship order for a young person in her care in early 2014, and at the hearing on 12th January 2015 of her application for a non-molestation order. She has been able to fund reports by her treating psychologist, Dr. Sarah Heke, and Dr. Heke's attendance at this hearing. On 16th March 2015 she notified me that she had received an offer of legal assistance from another firm of solicitors but they have not placed themselves on the court record.
  18. At the hearing the father was represented by Francesca Wiley QC and the guardian by Ms. Lonnen.
  19. The mother's non-attendance at the final hearing and deemed application for an adjournment.

  20. The hearing was listed to begin on 13th April 2015, with a time estimate of six days.
  21. On the morning of the first day the mother informed the court and the parties by email that she had made an appointment to see her GP because she did not consider herself "sufficiently fit to conduct these court proceedings right at this moment". Later that morning, Dr. Choudhry sent a report to the court indicating that, as a result of anxiety and an irritable bowel problem, the mother could not attend court. The mother said that the GP intended the letter to cover the six day hearing.
  22. I adjourned the hearing to the following day. My order recited my hope that the mother's symptoms would abate and she would be able to attend court on the following day. I gave her notice that I would consider the question of special measures before the hearing continued, that full account would be taken of her being a litigant in person and reasonable frequent breaks would be afforded her, if so required. The mother had made an application for special measures, which I listed for hearing, together with a number of other applications she had made, at the pre-hearing review on 24th March. The mother attended that hearing, made lengthy submissions on a number of matters but did not seek special measures, telling me that she was engaging in 'eurythmy', a form of therapy which was helping her.
  23. The mother was also given notice that if she did not attend court on 14th April, a joint application would be made on behalf of the father and X that the case should continue in her absence, that an application for abrogation of her parental responsibility was likely to be made at the conclusion of the evidence, and that the father would pursue his application for a s.91(14).
  24. I ordered the father to attempt personal service of my order and a chronology setting out the history of legal applications and adjournments involving the mother. The statement of service of the process server, Anthony Booth, said that on 13th April there was no reply at 18.35 but he had served the mother, who identified herself to him, at 20.15. At 20.37 the mother sent an email saying that she had been at home all day after seeing the GP in the morning and had not received any papers.
  25. On 14th April the mother did not attend court. I treated her absence as an application for an adjournment. I was aware of her history of mental illness (to which I will return later in this judgment) and the views of Dr. Heke that she does not currently suffer from any mental illness but may re-experience physical symptoms as a result of participating in court hearings. There was no indication as to when the mother might be able to participate in a hearing. I refused the adjournment and gave a judgment which, if necessary, should be read together with this judgment. I acknowledged the mother's right to a fair trial but my overriding concern was and remains, that X has been the subject of these proceedings for more than half of his young life and a decision for him should not be further delayed.
  26. The mother did not attend the hearing but she maintained a correspondence with the parties and the court by email. On 15th April, having heard evidence and submissions on behalf of the father and the guardian, I gave the mother leave to file and serve written submissions. Ms. Lonnen wrote to the mother setting out the changes in the guardian's position with regard to contact and other matters that had been raised, so that the mother could deal with them in her submissions. The mother sent me her written submissions on 17th April.
  27. The mother has not been represented at this hearing, which is particularly regrettable given her absence from court. She is an intelligent, educated woman, as I have observed and Dr. Heke has confirmed. I am satisfied that she has been able to understand the documents and comment on them.
  28. On 7th May the mother wrote that she had been successful in reversing the somatic effects of attending court and would attend court for judgment and I am pleased to see that she is here.
  29. Disclosure of documents.

  30. The mother has complained that she has not has full disclosure of the documents in these proceedings. She was represented until August 2014 and then received the documents from her solicitors.
  31. At the pre-hearing review on 24th March 2015 the father's solicitor lent her bundle of documents to the mother and I ordered that it be returned to the solicitor via the mother's solicitors using the DX system, to which I was told they consented. Thereafter, updating documents were to be sent to the solicitors and an email would be sent to the mother so that she would know that she had to collect the documents. When the mother complained on 16th April that she was missing some 200 pages of the bundle, she was reminded that she was responsible for producing all of the updating documents, with the exception of the guardian's final report and the witness template, both of which had been sent to her.
  32. I am satisfied that all the documents have been made available to the mother.
  33. Evidence.

  34. In preparation for this hearing I read two bundles of documents which, in addition to the parties' evidence, include: documents disclosed by the London Borough of Enfield Social Services Department, the police, the Court of Protection and the Employment Tribunal, and reports from Dr. Sarah Heke, the mother's treating psychologist, and Dr. Matthew Castle, a consultant adult psychiatrist, instructed as an expert.
  35. Witnesses.

  36. At the hearing on 17th November 2014, when I adjourned the final hearing from December 2014 to April 2015, I considered which witnesses would be required and set out a list in the recitals to my order. (A93)
  37. I heard evidence from: Lydia Bartlett and Ashima Indrajath, social workers with the London Borough of Enfield, and from Thomas Dearman, the father and the guardian.
  38. Dr. Castle was not required to give evidence by the father or the guardian who accept his reports. The mother does not accept Dr. Castle's reports but could not pay his fees for attending court and did not herself attend court to cross-examine him. The mother did arrange funding for Dr. Heke to attend court. I had ordered that the mother provide Dr. Heke with a complete bundle of documents to read before she came to court. Dr. Heke attended court on the third morning of the hearing. It transpired that the bundle she had received and read was incomplete, it would take some hours for her to read the missing documents and, as she was only available that morning, the hearing would have to be adjourned. In the circumstances, Miss Wiley and Ms. Lonnen decided that they did not wish to cross-examine her. I asked Dr. Heke to come into court and explained the situation to her. I told her that I was concerned that she would be placed in a difficult position, as a treating psychologist, if she were provided with additional information at court and questioned about it, in the absence of the mother. Dr. Heke agreed that it would be unfair for her to be asked questions when she did not have access to the full information. She left court without giving oral evidence, but her reports and letters, which the mother has filed, remain part of the evidence which I have considered.
  39. Findings of fact.

  40. The early orders in this matter do not disclose whether consideration was given to the need to hold a fact finding hearing and there are no schedules of findings sought. Some of the mother's more serious allegations, such as that X was conceived as the result of the father raping her, were not made until October 2014, three year after the proceedings began. At the conclusion of the hearing Miss Wiley asked me to make a number of findings, which I will deal with in due course.
  41. Delay.

  42. This has been the third listing of the final hearing. It has been delayed for a number of reasons which include the need to monitor the mother's mental health and the progress of her contact with X , disclosure by the police following the her reports to them, the embargo on her public funding certificate, the guardian's health and the court's need to list part-heard public law matters.
  43. 4 The law.

  44. The starting point is s.1(1) of the Children Act 1989 which provides:
  45. "When a court determines any question with respect to … the upbringing of a child ... the welfare of the child shall be the court's paramount consideration."

    When considering what is in the interests of a child's welfare the court shall have regard in particular to the factors set out in the welfare checklist in s.1(3). In this case the particularly important factors are: X's  wishes and feelings, his needs, the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances, any characteristics which I consider relevant and any harm he has suffered or is at risk of suffering, and the capacity of his parents to meet his needs.

  46. I have considered each parent's allegations against the other of domestic violence and other abuse and the extent to which any findings are relevant in deciding whether to make an order about residence or contact and, if so, in what terms. In doing this I have borne in mind the President's Practice Direction on Residence and Contact Orders, Domestic Violence and Harm of 14th January 2009 [2009] 2 FLR 1400, even though this has not been a fact finding hearing.
  47. I have reminded myself of the Court of Appeal case of Re L [2000] 2 FLR 334 which is authority for the proposition that the ability of a domestic violence perpetrator to recognise his actions and address the behaviour is "highly material" in the balancing exercise the court must carry undertake. Dame Butler-Sloss, then President of the Family Division, referred (at p 334) to the judgment of Wall J (as he then was) in the case of Re M (Contact: Violent Parent) [1999] 2 FLR 321 where he suggested at p.333 that:
  48. "Often in these cases where domestic violence has been found, too little weight in my judgment is given to the need for the father to change. It is often said that notwithstanding the violence, the mother must nonetheless bring up the children with full knowledge and a positive image of their natural father and arrange for the children to be available for contact. Too often it seems to me the courts neglect the other side of that equation, which is that (the father) should demonstrate that he is a fit person to exercise contact; that he is not going to destabilise the family; that he is not going to upset the children and harm them emotionally."

    5 The parents.

    The father.

  49. The father was born on 13th June 1984 and is 30. He met the mother in 2004 when he was 19 and a first year student studying Modern Middle Eastern History at Manchester University. He had a summer job working as an IT consultant at Anglo Aquarium Plant Co. Ltd, a company owned by the mother's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Z, where the mother was employed as a director.
  50. Since 2007 he has worked in IT sales. In 2008 he became Head of Presales for Redblade Ltd, an IT services company, and he remains in this employment.
  51. The mother.

  52. The mother was born on 29th October 1968 and is 46. She worked for Shell Gas, starting as a driver and becoming a transport manager and then area manager for the South of England.
  53. From 2001 she worked in her parents' company, a horticultural business selling aquatic plants, fish and associated equipment. In November 2001 she became a director of the company, and in September 2006 she took over the day to day running of the business. She had a separate vineyard business on the Isle of Wight. She is also a riding instructor.
  54. 6 X.

  55. From birth until 6th November 2011 when he was just aged 2 two, X lived with his mother and father. Each of the parents says that he/she was his primary carer. Since 6th November 2011 he has lived with his father in his paternal grandparents' home in Muswell Hill, although recently he moved with his father to his father's partner's home.
  56. "X" attended Active Learning Nursery from 21st November 2011, and they reported on 4th January 2012 that he was an extremely pleasant little boy, who had firm attachment bonds with his father, settled quickly, had a beautiful disposition, and was progressing in all areas at age appropriate level. (B10)
  57. In her first report dated 11th July 2013, the guardian said that: X presents as a joyful and well cared for child", and noted that it appeared that he had been well shielded from the difficulties between his parents. (E13)
  58. ""X" moved to his primary school on 15th January 2015. In March the school reported to the guardian that X is "a pleasant, happy child who has a very positive outlook and has settled into school quickly". He is making good progress and has a wide range of interests. From his home/school book it is evident that the father is very much involved in his learning and progress; the father engages with the school.
  59. They added:
  60. "X is a popular member of his class and has made many friends. He is a confident and happy child …we are delighted with his progress … we look forward to seeing him continue to flourish and grow in all aspects of his learning - emotionally, socially and academically." (E61)

  61. At no stage has the guardian identified any welfare concerns for X. In her second report, dated 8th April 2015, she noted that he has consistently presented to her as a delightful little boy who is happy and lively, and enjoys play, learning and the company of those around him. She confirms that throughout the course of her involvement she has had no welfare concerns about him, having observed him in a number of settings, at his parents' respective home addresses, his father's partner's home, out riding with his mother and, more recently at RH, the contact centre. She confirmed that her assessment of X as a happy, vibrant and popular child is supported by information from his school.
  62. 7 The history.

  63. There is a short chronology at pp.5 to 9 in the bundle which I incorporate into this judgment.
  64. The parents make allegations of domestic violence and abuse against each other. The mother's allegations include rape and other sexual abuse. I have, therefore, had to consider the history in detail because any findings I may make in respect of these serious allegations will be relevant to the decisions I have to make about the arrangements for X. I shall take the history in periods of time.
  65. 2004 - 2007.

  66. The father told me that he was drawn to the mother by her "aura of self-confidence. She was very driven. She knew what she wanted to achieve". When their relationship began, he was 20, she was 36 and his first girlfriend. He lived with her in Lavinia House, a property adjacent to the business and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Z. He told me he was in love with her. They worked hard five days a week to make a success of the business, and at the weekends he joined her in activities related to her work with horses. He thought the business had great potential and gave up his degree to focus on it.
  67. Before the relationship began the father told me he knew that the mother was a heavy drinker and had a very high threshold for alcohol. He saw her drink herself to sleep every night.
  68. The mother and her parents disagreed about the development of their business which she wanted to control. The father told me there were "raging arguments" and she increased her salary and changed her title to Managing Director without authorisation. She also wanted to take over her uncle's business and was frustrated when this did not happen.
  69. The mother was absolutely convinced that she was right; she had a strong sense of righteousness and nothing mattered apart from her objectives, and she continued to drink heavily.
  70. The father left his employment with Anglo Aquarium Plant Co. Ltd in the summer of 2007 because he disagreed with Mr. and Mrs. Z's business practices, but he remained in the relationship with the mother, living at Lavinia House, and tried to avoid arguments with her about her parents' business.
  71. He told me that during this period the mother befriended young, vulnerable people, took them into her home, and then fell out with them when they tried to act independently of her. He mentioned two in particular, the first a 16 or17 year old girl who lived with the mother in 2004, and the second a young man who lived in her home for some months: both had difficult relationships with their parents.
  72. The mother says that she did not drink excessively. She drank with the father, and the same amounts (B40) She says that in the early years they had a strong relationship, and this was the case until 2011. She also says that people are drawn to her and she has done a great deal to help many people.
  73. The incident on 27th December 2007.

  74. On 21st May 2008 the mother issued a complaint to the Employment Tribunal claiming damages for unfair dismissal against Anglo Aquarium Plant Co. Ltd. At the final hearing in March 2011, the tribunal heard oral evidence from the mother, the father, Mr. and Mrs. Z and the mother's sister. I have read the judgment given on 11th March 2011 and the following account is taken from the judgment which has not been the subject of an appeal, as far as I am aware.
  75. In 2007 Mr. and Mrs. Z were concerned that their company was incurring losses and that the mother was withholding information and making decisions without authority. I have mentioned that she had increased her salary; she had also purchased a tractor through their company for use in her vineyard business; employees and suppliers had not been paid. The Employment Tribunal noted that documents corroborated Mr. and Mrs. Z's account in respect of the tractor. (F77) The mother's account was that her parents were causing losses to the business.
  76. In December 2007 Mr. and Mrs. Z decided to wind down the company and invited the mother to tender her immediate resignation. In a letter dated 27th December 2007 they set out their decision and their offer to pay her salary until the end of May 2008. They requested the return of all passwords to the computer system. They invited the mother to come to the office to receive the letter but the father collected it and took it back to her. Eventually the mother went to the office.
  77. Mr. and Mrs. Z told the Tribunal that when Mrs. Z suggested that mother might have been drinking, the mother attacked her physically. In the ensuing altercation the mother bit her sister's partner on the arm, causing severe bruising and breaking the skin, and also bit her sister.
  78. The mother's account is that she was assaulted by her family. She says that her father grabbed her by the arm and then she was pulled by her mother, her sister and her sister's partner. She was thrown against the wall and lost consciousness. When she came round she was being held down, choked and hit in the face
  79. The father told me that he did not accompany the mother to the meeting, but when he heard screams he ran to the office, forced the door open and saw the mother pinned to the floor by her father, sister and her sister's partner. She said to him: "My parents attacked me" and he believed her at the time. He supported her application to the Employment Tribunal and gave evidence on her behalf at the hearing.
  80. In the period following this incident the father felt responsible for protecting the mother. She told him that she needed to drink to calm her nerves. She would not speak to him about the assault: she said that talking about it re-traumatised her. He felt that he was in a relationship with her, she needed his help and he did everything she wanted, everything he could, but nothing helped. He could not make things better for her.
  81. The Employment Tribunal judgment.

  82. The Employment Tribunal noted that following the incident on 27th December 2007 the mother had made three applications to the County Court for injunctions against Mr. and Mrs. Z, and she had been prosecuted and convicted, after a trial in the Crown Court, of possession of a CS gas cylinder, for which she received a conditional discharge. The hearing before the Tribunal had been delayed because three psychiatrists had reported that the mother was unable to cope with the hearing. She had, eventually, attended the hearing but with difficulty. Her husband sat close by her, escorted her in and out of the Tribunal room and gave evidence in her support.
  83. The Employment Tribunal concluded that the mother's evidence was "substantially unreliable and tended towards the point where [they] needed independent reliable corroboration…" and they did not consider that the father was independent. (F74)
  84. The Employment Tribunal found that the mother was the instigator of physical violence (and bit her sister and her sister's partner) and that this was probably borne out of frustration because her parents had decided that her involvement in the business had to end. The police were called. The mother's allegations that the police had issued warnings to her parents were not made out.
  85. After 27th December 2007 the mother had made allegations of financial impropriety and fraud by Mr. and Mrs. Z and others. She intended to report their alleged misconduct to "the authorities" and to colleagues, friends and her sister's and her sister's partner's employers. She invited her parents, sister and her partner to a meeting on 4th January 2008 at which she would put forward a proposal to buy the shares in the company. She did not attend the meeting herself, and it was conducted by an intermediary. The mother proposed the sale to her of the business for £100, the writing-off of the directors' loan accounts, the sale to her of Lavinia House for 50 per cent of market value, and her parents' irrevocable commitment to leave her not less than 50 per cent of their estates. The offer was not accepted.
  86. Subsequently, the mother refused to return the company car and keys, someone attempted to gain access to the company's computers, keys to the premises were taken, a computer tower used for printing labels was removed. The tribunal found that these actions were carried out by the mother or her husband. (F80)
  87. Findings.

  88. The Tribunal made the following findings. The mother's belief about her treatment by her parents, and others, may have been genuine but it was not reasonable. Her "disclosures" were not made in good faith but in order to secure her own financial advantage, and were not the reason for her dismissal. The reasons for her dismissal were: her management of the business and actions in breach of authority and her duties as a director, her verbal abuse and physical assault of her mother and others, her subsequent conduct including intimidation of employees, taking company property without permission and a continued campaign of threats and intimidation.
  89. Her dismissal was not unfair, the respondent company had acted reasonably in dismissing her. She was guilty of gross misconduct and her claim was dismissed. As far as I am aware the decision was not appealed.
  90. The mother's assertion that the father conducted the litigation.

  91. In the proceedings before me the mother asserts that the father conducted her Employment Tribunal case and deliberately did so to her disadvantage, including cancelling a video link arranged for the hearing. She has repeated these allegations to her treating psychologist, Dr. Heke.
  92. The Employment Tribunal noted that the request for a video link was withdrawn by the mother's solicitor shortly before the hearing (F73). The father says that when the hearing was adjourned for the second time, after receipt of the report of Professor Sensky, a Consultant Psychiatrist, who advised that the mother was not fit to attend a hearing, the Tribunal suggested using a video link. The mother was represented for those proceedings by solicitors and counsel at the father's cost, and her solicitor, John Blank of Abrahams, took his instructions from her. The father told me that it was a condition of the second adjournment of the Employment Tribunal hearing that he became the mother's Litigation Friend, but Mr. Blank continued to take instructions directly from her.
  93. The mother's claim that the father conducted this litigation without her knowledge or permission, incurring substantial legal fees in the process, was explored during the final hearing in Ancillary Relief proceedings before Deputy District Judge Evans in this court in December 2014 and January 2015. On the face of his order Deputy District Judge Evans made a finding that:
  94. "The Applicant wife, possibly due to her then illness, was the driving force behind the litigation in which she engaged during the parties' marriage."

    She had alleged that the father had deliberately conducted the litigation in such a way as to cause her harm.

  95. Deputy District Judge Evans found that the litigation was conducted either by the mother or by the father on the mother's instructions and that the transfer of the property (which was the subject of the ancillary relief hearing) into joint names was done on her instructions and with her knowledge, and that the prime purpose was to release funds to pursue the litigation (F186, para. 10)
  96. I understand that the mother wishes to appeal Deputy District Judge Evans' order but has been refused permission to appeal out of time, and that a further application is listed for hearing on 20th May 2015.
  97. I have set out the decision and the reasons of the Employment Tribunal because the incident on 27th December 2007 resonates through these proceedings. The mother maintains that her family assaulted her and has given that account to the health professionals involved in her care, and to Dr. Castle, the expert psychiatrist. It appears to be at least a part of the basis upon which their diagnoses of her mental health difficulties depends. The mother continues to make this assertion within these proceedings.
  98. 2008 - 2011.

    The mother's mental health.

  99. Dr. Castle sets out the mother's psychiatric history in his report dated 15th April 2013 (C46 to 48). The mother criticises Dr. Castle for certain omissions but, having read all the medical evidence, I consider that it is a fair summary and I do not propose to repeat the detail here. I will however note the salient points, based on Dr. Castle's summary and my reading.
  100. Dr. Castle notes that there is no evidence that the mother had contact with mental health services prior to 2007.
  101. During the period from 2008 to 2011, at various times, the mother saw Professor Tom Sensky, Professor of Psychological Medicine at Imperial College, Joseph Mishan, a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Dr. James Kustow, Consultant Psychiatrist with the Enfield Complex Care Team, Dr. Gordon Turnbull, a Consultant Psychiatrist who specialises in PTSD, Heather Robyn, a Psychotherapist and she also attended for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the Priory Hospital.
  102. In September 2009 Professor Sensky diagnosed the mother as suffering from depression of at least moderate severity with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Those symptoms included nightmares, emotional lability and
  103. hyper-vigilance, difficulty focussing on the essential details of any topic and fear of going out unaccompanied. (C47)

  104. He believed her account of the incident on 27th December 2007 because she shows features of PTSD which can be attributed to the assault - he was not aware of any perpetrator of an assault developing PTSD - and because she was consistent in her account of the features of PTSD, which she has experienced and discriminated between different symptoms.
  105. He advised that PTSD does not have a pervasive effect on a person's functioning. The anxiety and other intrusive symptoms of PTSD are most likely to occur in response to a cue which reminds the person of the previously experienced trauma. Psychological interventions are effective in majority of cases and medium to long-term prognosis for the mother's depression and PTSD should be good.
  106. During this period, on 11th March 2011, the Employment Tribunal delivered its judgment, and the mother admits to being "very low" at this point. (B43, para.14)
  107. On 31st August 2011 Dr. Kustow carried out a first crisis assessment of the mother, who was struggling to cope with eviction from Lavinia House, which was due to take place on 20th September. She had requested a report to support her in the court proceedings, which he did not consider appropriate. He noted that the father and X were present and that the interaction between the mother and the child was appropriate.
  108. Dr. Kustow reported that the mother described "extreme anxiety and hypervigilance" and "prolonged dissociative episodes" where she switched from periods of depression to rage, and then progressed into involuntary spasms "a catatonic state" as she described it. He uses quotation marks where they appear in this judgment. She said there were times when she had no memory of events. She also admitted to recurrent suicidal thoughts, at times stating to her husband: "Let go of me. I want to go to the railway track to kill myself". On a number of occasions he allegedly had to "hold her back" or "lock her in" to protect her. (C34, para. 11)
  109. I note that the mother has told Dr. Heke that she did not have suicidal thoughts but she gave a different, contemporaneous, account to Dr. Kustow.
  110. The father's allegations of domestic violence and abuse.

  111. The father's first account in these proceedings is set out in Form C1A dated 11th November 2011(A13). He refers to the mother becoming overwhelmed with rage and fear in reaction to triggers, leading to periods of extreme emotion, aggression, threats, insults and to her lashing out in anger, including striking him in the head, throwing objects and punching and kicking him. He said that when she was particularly distressed, she expressed an urge to smash or throw X. She tried to take her own life and suggested killing herself and X. She was drinking and he feared that she might abduct X.
  112. He said that late in 2010 he undertook psychotherapy for a few months to "improve [his] declining mental state". He found himself in a very difficult situation, but he believed that he could provide the mother with all the support that she needed and he hoped that her health would improve. (A25)
  113. He says that after the mother lost the Employment Tribunal case and the possession proceedings, her behaviour deteriorated. In his witness statement dated 15th May 2013, describes her as being regularly violent to him, including in X's  presence. Her favourites were to kick his legs, once so hard, while she was wearing steel-capped boots, that she chipped his kneecap and he had to have an operation. He said:
  114. "She would hit me with her hands and fists around the head and on the back. She would use furniture such as chairs to hit me or throw at me. Her behaviour was much worse when she had been drinking." (B20, para. 7 and B96 para. 9)

  115. He told me that he did not remember the details of the evening when he says the mother caused damage to his kneecap. She had kicked his legs on a number of occasions. When he went to hospital he did not tell the staff that she had caused the injury because she was traumatised, out of control and it was not her fault.
  116. The father told me that the mother self-medicated with alcohol. She would wake sober but in the evenings she would drink until she passed out. If she woke up while she was still drunk she would be confused, angry and aggressive. She might lock him out of the house, hit him, threaten X, although she did not hurt X. He could remember that on one occasion he was holding X,  who was screaming, while the mother screamed at him, the father, and he begged her to stop and let him put X down to sleep. (NB54)
  117. He tried to avoid the triggers that would set off a reaction in the mother but his efforts did not result in peace for long. He said:
  118. "She would often threaten me with physical violence and the threat was implicit in day to day life. Any failure to meet her wishes or expectations would result in an alcohol-fuelled frenzy when I would be struck or spat at." (B21, para 10)

  119. The mother blamed him for her mental state. He said:
  120. "My efforts to avoid the triggers that upset her, in so far as I could anticipate what they were, were never good enough to keep the peace for long…" (B97/12)

    He told me she used the diagnosis of PTSD to excuse her bad behaviour but he

    did not consider leaving her. He was committed to their marriage and their family with X. He thought her behaviour was the result of the PTSD. She was

    ill and he had to take care of her. He remembered her as she had been at the beginning of their relationship, and he blamed himself for not being able to avoid the behaviour that triggered her violence towards him.

    The mother's account.

  121. The mother denies the father's allegations that she was drinking excessively and was violent. She notes that he did not raise these concerns when he attended her appointments with Professor Sensky. (B41)
  122. The mother says that they were arguing and the marriage was under a lot of pressure. She alleges that the father "stopped listening to me and prevented me from having a point of view." He threw knives in their home, although not at her, he smashed crockery and X's  cot. She says:
  123. "I was the victim and I believe now that he was trying to control, to make me take tablets and force me into a worse state of health so he would have control over me."

    She denies being suicidal. (B43, para. 10)

  124. The mother attributes her patterns of high and low behaviour to the father's actions (B43, para. 12). She accuses him of making her ill, prolonging her illness and exaggerating it, in order to control her and then to justify removing X from her care.
  125. The care of X.

  126. The father says that the mother did not bond with X and that he was X's primary carer. He told me that in the first two years of X's life the mother had sole care of X on no more than 30 occasions, for not more than a few hours at a time; having sole care or holding X would elevate her anxiety; sometimes she would care for him in the car so that he could be managed in a smaller space. (A22 and 24)
  127. In 2008 the father became Head of Presales for Redblade Ltd, an IT services company, and in 2010 the vice-president for sales for a US software company called Occams Resources. (A20) He worked at home in order to be able to care for the mother and X, working when they were asleep. (A21)
  128. The father described in his witness statement and his oral evidence, his increasing isolation as he worked from home, cared for X, and carried out tasks for the mother. The mother sent books to his family but when they did not read them she said they were not supportive and made her ill, and she excluded them. By November 2011 he had not seen his parents for two years.
  129. The mother's account is that she did bond with X, she was always his primary carer and the father's account is a total fabrication.
  130. Other litigation during this period.

  131. On 12th February 2010 the mother obtained an ex parte injunction against her family and others involved in the incident on 27th December 2007. On 12th May 2010 Mr. Recorder Glover dismissed her application as being totally without merit and awarded costs against her.
  132. On 15th September 2010 the mother obtained a further ex parte order against her parents. On 20th October 2010 her application was dismissed as being "totally devoid of merit" and costs were awarded against her and the father. She was made the subject of Civil Restraint Order which prevents her from taking any action against her parents without the leave of a Circuit Judge.
  133. On 21st February 2011 possession proceedings against the mother were compromised by the father acting on her behalf, on the basis of a conditional agreement that she would withdraw these proceedings and that neither side should commence further proceedings. The next day the mother issued a claim for damages for personal injury against her parents.
  134. In his judgment in the ancillary relief proceedings, Deputy District Judge Evans noted a schedule of costs which showed over £50,000 was spent with Abraham and Associates on the mother's litigation (F185, para. 6)
  135. The situation in November 2011.

    The father's account.

  136. The father told me that after he and the mother were evicted from Lavinia House, they spent some weeks living at a Premier Inn in South Mimms. Their possessions were in storage, the mother would send him to collect items and he would take X with him and stay out all day. The mother had become very unwell, but she refused to attend hospital or take prescribed medication. Her therapist, Heather Robyn, was unable to continue her treatment until she had attended hospital. (A31)
  137. In the week preceding their separation on 6th November 2011, the mother became increasingly violent and aggressive. She hit him repeatedly. He asked her friends, Mr. & Mrs. W whether they could stay with them in Nantwich, near Manchester. They drove there on 6th February. The father says the mother began drinking and became aggressive and within 12 hours their friends had asked them to leave.
  138. In his witness statement in support of his application, dated 11th November 2011, the father set out exchanges between himself and the mother's therapist, Heather Robyn. The source of this information was not clear to me, but the father told me that these were texts. At my request he produced a print-up of an export from the backup he had taken from his Blackberry phone in January 2012. He told me he no longer has the phone. The document is not a transcript of recorded telephone calls, as asserted by the mother in her written submissions (B191) but a record of text messages.
  139. I note in particular on 1st November Miss Robyn sent a text to the father saying
  140. "Oh [father's name] you do need help urgently. This is what Gordon and I were worried about. Please phone Gordon and please phone the complex team, [the mother] is needing more urgent help."

    "Gordon" is, I understand, a reference to the Psychiatrist, Gordon Turnbull. Later, on the same day, Heather Robyn wrote:

    "[Father's name] I am so glad you got hold of Gordon, you've been the very best support anyone could expect from a partner. Remember [the mother] is very unwell now and needs a tranquillizer as a temporary measure. She will get well again but she is beyond therapy now for a while."
  141. On 3rd November Heather Robyn wrote:
  142. "[Father's name] I think you have few options now. The one thing that seems to be agreed is that you need to have some space from each other. I don't think you should leave X alone with [the mother] now, I'm not confident enough that he is safe. I don't think she will deliberately harm him, but if her paranoia gets even more out of hand she is too unpredictable. You have my opinion now as a psychotherapist and Gordon's as a psychiatrist."

    On 4th November she sent him a text asking how things were, and saying that she had reassured the mother that she could come back into therapy again as soon as she felt up to it. Later the same day, Miss Robyn asked the father whether he could take X to stay at his parents even if for a week because the mother needed to have psychiatric help to move out of the grip of paranoia.

  143. On 6th November - the date on which the father left, taking X with him - Miss Robyn sent him a text with contact telephone numbers for the complex care team, and various other teams, Chase Farm Hospital main switchboard, and social welfare, and said:
  144. "[Father's name] you may need to tell them where you are so someone can come and do an assessment tonight. You need to keep yourself and X safe. Think about what you have just experienced and your friends have validated your experience, and Gordon and I have made this assessment a week ago. [The mother] seems to be going in and out of psychosis."
  145. The father told me that on the advice of Heather Robyn, who had spoken to Dr. Gordon Turnbull, he attempted to have the mother detained pursuant to the Mental Health Act 1983. A GP attended but the mother refused to see him. The police and an ambulance crew attended. The ambulance crew were seriously concerned but did not think that the mother entirely lacked capacity (A7)
  146. The father realised that he could not keep X safe in mother's presence, and said that he would take X to his parents, which the mother agreed to because her focus was on avoiding going to hospital.
  147. The mother's account.

  148. The mother has acknowledged that after 2008 she was unwell, but she says that by this time (late 2011) she had made a full recovery; she considers that the father is using her historic psychiatric illness against her. (B32, para. 2). In November 2011 she was well but the father "wasn't adjusting to my recovery". She was assessed by a psychiatrist and found to be "perfectly in control". Her friend Mrs. W said that she felt safe with her and that she was safe with X (B45, para. 21)
  149. I should add that I have not seen reports from the GP, the Ambulance Service or the Police, nor any evidence from Mr. or Mrs. W.
  150. 8 2012 - 2014 - developments during the course of these proceedings.

  151. The father took X to live with his parents. He says that he realised that as a single parent with a mentally ill wife his care of X would be scrutinised, so he went to social services and "opened (his) life to them". (N/B 48) X was seen by a social worker and a health visitor who had no concerns about him and he was placed in a nursery.
  152. The mother's mental health.

  153. During this period the mother saw Dr. Neil Brenner, a Consultant Psychiatrist, who found her to be excitable and a little on the high side, with mild pressure of speech and flight of ideas, although she did not accept this. He recommended quetiapine to help her sleep and stabilise her mood. By 7th December 2011 Raj Gopal (Community Psychiatric Nurse, Enfield Complex Care Team) found the mother to be remarkably well, with no psychotic features.
  154. On 13th December 2011 Dr. Kustow carried out a second assessment of the mother who presented appropriately with no evidence of any psychiatric symptoms. Her priority then was to rekindle the relationship with the father. Dr. Kustow's provisional diagnosis was paranoid personality disorder which he explained is characterised by paranoia, pervasive long-standing suspiciousness and mistrust of others, being excessively sensitive to setbacks, a belief that the person is in danger with a tendency to bear grudges and a tenacious sense of personal right. (C36)
  155. By March 2012 Raj Gopal found that the mother presented without evidence of mental instability, she had made good progress and had full insight and capacity. In his judgment she did not pose any risks to X, and there was no reason why she should not have contact or "residential rights".
  156. On 2nd January 2012, Heather Robyn sent an email to the father in which she denied opinions which the mother had attributed to her. She said she had not said that the father was making X ill; she had not used the word 'hostage'; she had not said that she had spent huge amounts of unpaid time trying to get X released; she had not said that she was "disgusted, outraged and terrified"; she had not said that the father had lied. In her view the mother should have contact with X, but X should not live with her.
  157. The mother accepts that in May 2012 she was having a difficult time, which she attributes to the hearing on 2nd May 2012 of the father's application for an order in respect of harassment; this may relate to criminal proceedings, which I will come back to.
  158. The mother was admitted briefly to the Chase Farm Hospital as a voluntary patient. On 29th May 2012 Kwabena Koduah, her care co-ordinator reported that over the previous three weeks the mother's mental health had deteriorated in response to stressors, which included a lack of contact with X. She had become increasingly paranoid, approaching a delusionary intensity. He said:
  159. "It is not uncommon for patients with a paranoid personality disorder to present with psychotic-like symptoms in times of stress." (C43)

    Dr. Kustow had concluded that the mother's thinking was "not quite psychotic".

  160. On 14th June 2012 the mother sent an email to her care co-ordinator saying:
  161. "I have gone into a state of near paralysis as far as my daily functioning is concerned… I have been kidding myself as to my progress and am becoming an ever increasingly greater master of disguise to cover up my failings as a functioning human being…none of this impedes my ability to look after my child."

  162. From September 2012 Dr. Peter Sudbury, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, was treating the mother, and by December he had concluded that she no longer required regular appointments with him. She was on the waiting list for psychological treatment for PTSD.
  163. The Enfield Complex Care Team considered that the mother could be discharged in April 2013. Her risk of self-harm and harm to others was low, and she had been stable for over six months. (B58)
  164. Alcohol use.

  165. I have referred to the father's description of the mother's excessive use of alcohol in the period leading to 6th November 2011.
  166. On 14th May 2012 a hair strand test for alcohol resulted in a high level of EtG but no trace of FAEE. (E4) Dr. Castle advised in his addendum report, dated 30th July 2013, that it is perfectly possible for someone with an alcohol misuse disorder to be positive for one marker but not the other. He regarded this test as being supportive evidence of a misuse disorder. (C59)
  167. In her witness statement of 20th June 2013 the mother said that she had moderated her alcohol intake to one or two glasses two or three times a week. Dr. Castle strongly recommended that she should be abstinent. (C59)
  168. A hair strand test result for alcohol dated 13th January 2014 showed no trace of either of the two markers. (E15)
  169. I have seen a reference in the London Borough of Enfield social services records dated 14th February 2014 to the mother having a "recent history of self-medicating with alcohol." (F65)
  170. The mother has failed to provide any more recent hair strand test results despite an order which I made on 27th June 2014, and reiterated at subsequent hearings.
  171. The restraining order.

  172. The father told me that after he left the mother he would receive between 150 and 200 messages a day from her and when he did not reply the messages changed to include sexual references. She would come to his parents' home, where he and X were living, at night. He reported this behaviour to the police who gave the mother a harassment warning.
  173. The harassment continued. A neighbour reported seeing the mother climbing the front of his parents' home, and the mother was arrested and cautioned.
  174. The harassment continued and the police arrested the mother and placed her on police bail subject to conditions, which she breached. She was interviewed under caution and admitted harassment, blaming her illness.
  175. The mother was charged with the criminal offence of harassment. On 17th October 2012 at Highgate Magistrates' Court the prosecutor told the father that the mother would agree to a restraining order without a conviction, and he agreed to this so that he and his mother would not have to give evidence.
  176. The restraining order was made for three years, until 16th October 2015. It prohibits the mother from contacting the father directly or indirectly, save during court proceedings or during formal mediation meetings through solicitors or as directed by the Family Court.
  177. 9 History of contact.

  178. By July 2013 X was having supported with his mother three times a week, rotating between the Muswell Hill and Palmers Green contact centres. Neither parent was satisfied with the arrangement. The mother wanted more frequent and longer contact. The father was concerned because X was wetting himself, and he thought that the mother might be putting him under emotional pressure by questioning him.
  179. The father was also concerned that volunteers at the contact centres did not stop contact on an occasion when the mother had been drinking. They did not stop the mother telling X that father was a horrible person who would not allow him to see the pony that she had for him. The mother checked X for bruises which distressed X. On two occasions she removed his underpants, put him in a nappy and kept the pants, and the father said she gave him dairy products although she knew he is lactose intolerant. On 19th May 2012 the mother had contact with X, which the father says was at a time when she had admitted herself to Chase Farm Hospital. This contact was observed by the guardian, and the mother was seen to be disorientated, not playing with X, and the staff terminated contact. (B23/17)
  180. The mother denies that there were difficulties at contact. She did not drink before contact; she did not tell X that his father is horrible; she changed X's  clothes because he had an accident; she did not know that he was lactose intolerant. She said she had gone to Chase Farm because she was exhausted and left the same day with one sleeping pill.
  181. The guardian was concerned about the use of volunteer supported contact centres because there was no professional available to report on the progress of contact. In her report of 11th July 2013 she recommended that contact move to AL contact centre where it would be monitored by a qualified social worker. She also suggested that it should move to once per fortnight to reduce the costs and allow X to spend some weekends with his father.
  182. On 6th August 2013 contact started at AL, however, the staff there found the mother's behaviour insulting, intimidating and demeaning, and after five months, on 4th January 2014, AL refused to facilitate her contact with X any longer.
  183. When this matter first came before me, on 21st March 2014 there had been no contact since January, and I was concerned that it should be reinstated. I ordered that the father should make X available for contact with the mother at the E Contact Centre weekly for two hours, alternating between supervised and supported contact; the parents would fund the costs in equal shares. The arrangements were not successful.
  184. On 27th June 2014 I ordered that starting on Saturday 28th June contact would take place fortnightly between 4pm and 6pm at the RH Contact Centre, which had been identified as a suitable venue. The RH Contact Centre is in Romford, a considerable distance from X's  home, involving a return journey of up to four hours. At a further hearing on 23rd September 2014 the mother requested weekly contact away from the contact centre. The father opposed the application and counsel indicated that he would apply for an order for no contact at the final hearing as a result of information disclosed by the London Borough of Enfield. I ruled that the contact would continue in accordance with my order of 27th June, but would increase to three hours, if RH could accommodate the change.
  185. Contact Notes.

  186. I have considered the contact notes from RH and there is much that is positive.
  187. X is usually pleased to see his mother and runs to hug her. She brings toys and games and they play together and talk. She brings a variety of snacks. She encourages and praises him, and she makes contact fun for him. There is lots of warmth and affection and X is comfortable with her.

  188. The mother asks X frequently whether he is allowed to tell her things, for example about school, and whether anyone has told him not to talk to her, and why he is quiet, which he is sometimes at the beginning of contact, but not for long.
  189. The guardian confirmed that when she observed contact on 6th December 2012, the mother showed X a photograph on her mobile phone of a broken cot and said: "That's a temper tantrum. You know whose temper tantrum that was". The guardian agreed that the mother was denigrating the father to the child. (NB153/102)
  190. 10 Recent incidents (1st October 2014 to Date)

    The mother's allegation that the father sexually abused X.

  191. On 7th October 2014 the mother made a complaint to the police of "non-specified child abuse". The CRIS report (F165) notes that she reported the following conversation with X :
  192. "X: You never hurt me.
    The Mother: No, because I'm your mum.
    X: Daddy always hurts me.
    The Mother: Do you ask him to be gentle?
    X: Even when I ask him to be gentle."

    There is no reference in the CRIS report to this exchange taking place as the mother wiped X's  bottom after he had used the toilet.

  193. The police visited X at home and found that he appeared happy and content. They made a referral to the Local Authority and a social worker, Elizabeth Johnson, investigated, listened to the recording of the conversation with X which the mother had made on a dictaphone and made enquiries with X's  school. On 21st October 2014 Ms. Johnson visited X at home and observed him with his father, including when X was on the toilet, She asked the father to take X to the GP next day to be examined. She noted in her report that X was:
  194. "happy, relaxed, confident and affectionate and … [she] did not observe any form of distress, apprehension or fear during [his] interaction with his father." (E38)

  195. The father told me that during her visit Ms. Johnson told him, in front of his partner, that the mother had alleged that he had digitally penetrated X. 
  196. On 22nd October 2014 Dr. Demades examined X who complained of central abdominal and peri-anal pain. On examination no abnormalities were detected but X said he had passed hard stools the day before. (F96)
  197. Ms. Johnson took no further action. The police were satisfied that no crime had been committed.
  198. The father told me that he found the mother's leap from X's  bottom being wiped hard, (which he denies in any event) to an allegation of digital penetration "distressing beyond belief". (B102/30) In response he applied to suspend X's  contact with the mother because, given her ability to manipulate and bully, he was not convinced that X would be safe in her care. (B102/30)
  199. The mother has not dealt with this incident in a witness statement, but she told me at a hearing, that she did not allege digital penetration but just reported to the police what she had heard and recorded.
  200. The mother's allegation of rape and sexual abuse throughout the parties' relationship and her allegation that X was conceived as a result of rape.

  201. On 17th October 2014, Elizabeth Johnson, the social worker, met the mother in the course carrying out a Child and Family Assessment, following the mother's report that the father had abused X. The mother told her that X was conceived during a rape which was "previously unreported but has since been reported and is being investigated by the police". She alleged that the father had been sexually aroused by her emotional distress, had masturbated to group pornography, and had sexually abused her throughout their marriage. (E33)
  202. The father told me that a police officer called him and on 23rd October 2014 he went voluntarily to Shoreditch police station where he was interviewed for four hours. He was told that the mother had said she "thought" that she had been raped while asleep because her pregnancy did not coincide with her menstrual cycle. Therefore she had concluded that the father must have raped her. I note that in her report dated 17th September 2014, Dr. Heke refers to the mother's "recall of forced sexual intercourse where she conceived and had no recollection of the act." (C114)
  203. In the course of their investigation the police contacted the father's university friends and Mr. and Mrs. W, and another friend who now lives now in Norway.
  204. The father told me that he never raped or sexually abused the mother, he had never become aroused by her emotional distress, he had never masturbated to group pornography.
  205. On 9th December 2014 the police informed the father that a Detective Inspector had reviewed the allegation and the investigation and there would be no further action. (B 160, F164). On the same date the mother wrote in an email addressed "Dear All" referring to the outcome of the police investigation and saying that she had been made aware of their "disappointment" at not being able to take matters any further. Her position remained the same: she said "[The father's] sexual behaviour was disgusting". (B161)
  206. The father queried this with the police and PC Dan Roberts replied:
  207. "I am hesitant about being involved in any proceedings between the two of you, other than to say that I did not state to [the mother] I was disappointed that matters could not be taken any further. I explained that the evidential test for charge was not satisfied in respect of the rape allegations she had made." (B169)

    The mother's application for a non-molestation order.

  208. On 23rd December 2014 the mother made an application to Barnet County Court for an order that the father "cease and desist from stalking and causing intentional emotional distress, leading to reduced functioning of the 'Learning Brain'." She alleged that she was unable to prepare for the ancillary relief hearing on 6th January 2015, which had been adjourned part-heard from 1st and 2nd December 2014, while the father continued to stalk and harass her. She said that he had read:
  209. ". . .the entire Overview of Treating Complex Stress Disorders and had spent four years writing to solicitors about the effects of trauma on the brain of the victim. I have the files." (F150)

  210. In the course of setting out her history, the mother said: "[She] conceived X on 7th February 2009, a date that [she] has no knowledge of having consensual sexual intercourse or indeed of having sexual intercourse at all. Women wanting and actively trying for babies have a habit of diarising such matters. It was at the 12-week scan which transpired to be a 10-week scan, when she became suspicious of what was going on." (F155) She goes on to say that she would have been in a state of dissociation and plied with alcohol by the father. Although not explicitly stated, the mother is suggesting that X was conceived as a result of rape.
  211. The mother accuses the father of 'gaslighting', a form of mental manipulation which the father explained to me is a reference to the 1950's film "Gaslight" in which a husband creates a number of small incidents which combine to drive his wife to insanity.
  212. The mother says that the father has used his IT skills to block her emails, to hack into her email account, and create email 'loops', and that he does so knowing, as a result of his reading about complex trauma and its treatment, that he is triggering her re-traumatisation and causing her great distress.
  213. The mother exhibited to her statement extracts from a number of textbooks on complex trauma and print-outs of the emails which she says illustrate that her accounts have been interfered with.
  214. As I have mentioned, the application was listed before District Judge Johns on 12th January 2015, but she declined to deal with it separately from this final hearing.
  215. The father's response.

  216. The father told me that he sells IT, he does not do IT. He is not a trained IT engineer. He has never hacked into anyone's email and would not know how to. E-mail 'loops' mean nothing to him. He has not done any of the things the mother alleges, they are very difficult and the sorts of things that governments might do. He told me that he has read very little about psychology or trauma. The mother would give him large numbers of books and extracts from books but he did not read them, which was a point of contention between them.
  217. The incident on 25th December 2014.

  218. On this date, the mother went to the father's parents' home where the father and X were still living, although they were not there at the time. He reported to police on 28th December 2014 that she left a letter for him and intimidated his parents. He thought that this behaviour was a breach of the restraining order. (F163)
  219. PC Wright wrote to the father on 31st December 2014 confirming that he had issued a written warning to the mother not to attend the grandparents' home. Any further contact with the father or the grandparents at their home would be a substantive breach of the order. He noted: "she knows exactly how to play the system." (B171)
  220. The ancillary relief hearing in December 2014 and January 2015.

  221. The father says the mother was obstructive throughout those proceedings, claiming that she had not received papers and then referring to them. At the final hearing she cross-examined him for one and a half days.
  222. I have mentioned that Deputy District Judge Evans found that the mother had been the driving force behind the litigation in which she engaged during the parties' marriage.
  223. As a result of his order, which, as I have noted, the mother seeks to appeal, the property at the address where she lives will be sold and after the mortgage has been redeemed and other debts paid, he will receive £15,000, and she will receive the balance which he estimates will be in the order of £90,000.
  224. Contact on 10th January 2015

  225. On 10th January 2015, the mother did not attend contact. She did not give notice that she would not attend so X was brought to the contact centre, which involved a round trip of four hours. After almost an hour the mother called and said that as a result of the father's actions she was homeless. She had to work, she did not have the money to pay the contact centre and she did not want to borrow the money because she could not repay it and that would be stealing. She wanted her message to be repeated in X's  presence.
  226. I note that the mother has told me that Mr. Lawrence, a friend, was paying her share of the contact centre costs.
  227. The incident at contact on 24th January 2015.

  228. The RH contact note records that on 24th January 2015 X was excited to see his mother, hugging her and smiling as she hugged him. Contact proceeded normally but after 50 minutes the mother said: "Wait a minute X, we're going to do it a bit differently today". In his presence the mother told the contact supervisor, , that she had been in talks with her solicitor all week and had received a new court order which no longer states that she has to stay at RH. The supervisor told her that unless RH received an order saying she was allowed to leave the unit with X, she would have to remain throughout the session. The mother said that they should call the police because she was leaving.
  229. The mother picked X up and repeated that she was allowed to leave. She made for the door but another member of staff blocked her way. She pleaded with them to let her go and stood in the hallway, holding X, for some time. She said she had not made the decision lightly and she would bring X back for 6 o'clock. Eventually, she agreed to return with X to the contact room.
  230. The supervisor told the mother that contact was terminated, in accordance with RH's policy, and X became upset because contact was being cut short. The mother said: "Don't worry, it's mummy's fault. I was being silly, and hopefully you'll get to see me again."
  231. The manager of RH confirmed that they had to suspend contact. They did not do so at the father's request, and before contact could resume the mother would have attend a meeting with the manager. (G193) That meeting took place on 13th February, and was attended by the mother, the guardian and the manager. RH was prepared to continue to facilitate her contact with X, starting again on 7th March, 2015, provided she signed a new contract.
  232. I have seen the original contract which the mother signed, and two draft contracts. The first draft contains RH's requirements for an additional contact worker to be on site. The mother would agree not to leave the premises with X under any circumstances and was not to discuss either the father or the ongoing court case with him. If she attempted to leave the premises with X, contact at RH would be permanently terminated. The police would be alerted to the situation and would be on standby during the contact sessions. The guardian told me that these clauses were discussed with the mother and she agreed that if RH sent her the contract, she would sign it.
  233. The second draft contract includes a further requirement that the mother agree not to record contact. RH had become aware that the mother had been making covert recordings during contact, such as the recording made on 7th October 2014. During the pre-hearing review on 24th March I encouraged the mother to sign the agreement in order to restart contact and left the parties to agree the date. I was subsequently told that the mother left court saying that she had work commitments.
  234. Since then the mother has refused to sign the contract and contact has not been reinstated. By the final hearing the mother had missed five opportunities to spend time with X.
  235. In her written submissions, received on 17th April, the mother asserts that RH acted unlawfully. She is in the process of reporting this and should not be expected to use the venue.
  236. The letter to X dated 9th March 2015.

  237. The head teacher of X's  primary school has confirmed that on or around 10th March the school received post addressed to X. As they were not expecting any post for him they passed it, unopened, to the father. The envelope contained a covering letter to the school, a copy of a report about the mother from Dr. Heke, a short letter to X,  and some mother's day cards with stamped addressed envelopes for X to send to his mother. In some ways it is very poignant.
  238. However, I note that in her covering letter the mother says:
  239. "There is a restraining order between the father and I and therefore under no circumstances is this letter to be shown or discussed with [the father]. What X does is a matter for X however all adults need to respect the court order."

    This is a misrepresentation of effect of the restraining order which only applies to the mother and does not prevent the school from passing papers to the father. The letter goes on to cast doubt on the father's parenting of X, referring to unnamed professionals who share her concerns about the child. She says that she has spoken to a number of teachers "with regards to what to look out for in X's  behaviour".

    11 The medical evidence.

    Expert evidence.

  240. Dr. Matthew Castle is a Consultant in General Adult Psychiatry, Old Age Psychiatry, Liaison Psychiatry and Neuro-psychiatry at the Priory Hospital, Chelmsford. On 6th February 2013 District Judge Marin gave the mother leave to instruct him to prepare a report in respect of her mental health, prognosis, ability to parent a child and any mental health issue in relation to contact, including overnight contact, that would affect X's  welfare. Her solicitors led the instruction and the costs of the report were to be paid under her public funding certificate.
  241. Dr. Castle met the mother on 19th February 2013. She told him that she had no psychiatric problems until she was assaulted by her family in December 2007. He noted that she told him also that at the time of his assessment she usually drank less than a bottle of wine per night but could drink a whole bottle.
  242. He discounted the diagnosis of personality disorder because there is no evidence of psychological problems prior to 2007, and people with personality disorders should manifest such by mid-adolescence. His differential diagnosis was that the mother suffers either from PTSD or bi-polar affective disorder and has spent much of the past four years in either a hypomanic or mixed affective state. Of these two possibilities he considered that PTSD more satisfactorily explains her symptoms and the way they centre on the alleged attack by her parents. (C52) He also diagnosed either alcohol dependence syndrome or harmful use of drinking, a secondary coping mechanism which requires separate treatment.
  243. He advised that the illnesses are treatable, although given that it was six years since the symptoms began, there would need to be a concerted effort to achieve a positive prognosis which would include medication and psychotherapy.
  244. In his addendum report dated 30th July 2013 Dr. Castle said that he does not agree with the opinion expressed in Professor Sensky's third report that PTSD never has a pervasive effect on functioning. He observed that many people with PTSD are significantly debilitated by this condition which can lead to "suicidality and psychiatric admission". He noted that the mother's clinical picture fluctuates so that at times she can appear calm and well and at others she is unable to contain her psychiatric symptoms. This fluctuating condition should be diagnosed because without continuity of care and an established diagnosis, there was a risk of relapse. (C60 and C62)
  245. The mother commented on Dr. Castle's report in her witness statement dated 20th June 2013. She does not accept his report or his recommendations. She was concerned that he did not cite every letter from her treating team in his report. She does not think it appropriate to take medication. She also refutes his diagnosis of alcohol dependence syndrome and denied telling that she him that she drank a bottle of wine a night; she has since moderated her drinking to small amounts of alcohol on two or three nights of the week. (B32) I understand that she has lodged a complaint against Dr. Castle with his professional body.
  246. The evidence of Dr. Sarah Heke, treating psychologist.

  247. Dr. Sarah Heke is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director and Consultant at the Institute of Psychotrauma. The mother was referred to her by Dr. Gordon Turnbull.
  248. Report dated 19th November 2013

  249. Dr. Heke has prepared a number of reports and letters of advice in the course of these proceedings. In her report dated 19th November 2013 she said that in her clinical opinion, the mother did not currently meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD and did not require trauma focused therapy. There were no apparent psychotic features, her mood was consistently stable, she did not present with symptoms of anxiety or depression. She was extremely committed to maintaining and increasing contact with X. On the basis of mother's account of X's  presentation at contact, Dr. Heke recommended an assessment of the mother, the father and X by a psychologist with expertise in child and adolescent mental health. (C70)
  250. Report dated 20th December 2013.

  251. Dr. Heke reported that the mother's mental health had remained stable. She noted that the mother was distressed that her contact with X had been stopped. (There was a break in contact in November but it was then restarted.) Her concern was mostly for X. The mother also expressed concern that X was left with his paternal grandparents for sustained periods due to their extremely strict and emotionally distant style. Dr. Heke repeated her recommendation that both parents should be subject to a full parenting assessment.
  252. Professionals' meeting.

  253. On 14th March 2014, Dr. Castle and Dr. Heke participated in a telephone professionals' meeting with the guardian, chaired by Ms. Lonnen. There is a transcript at C73 and a note of areas of agreement and disagreement at C100-102.
  254. Dr. Castle had not seen the mother for a year but he had read updating documents. Dr. Heke had not been providing therapy but she had seen the mother regularly in response to District Judge Marin's indication that her mental health should be monitored regularly (Order dated 6th August 2013 at A56)
  255. Dr. Heke confirmed that the mother had not reported any PTSD related symptoms, and she did not believe that the mother suffers from a personality disorder or has traits of a paranoid personality. She believes that the mother had suffered from an extreme anxiety reaction which was now largely resolved. Dr. Castle accepted that the mother does not suffer from a personality disorder, but believed that there may be traits of a paranoid personality.
  256. They agreed that it would be helpful if Dr. Heke could be the mother's therapist, focusing on developing more appropriate boundaries and stepping back from over-involvement. Dr. Castle would provide a psychiatric overview after six months
  257. Dr. Castle believed that the mother's prognosis depended on whether her current presentation is the residual effect of the anxiety reaction to the events of 2007 or results from deep-seated personality issues which preceded the events in 2007. If it were the former the prognosis is likely to be good; if the latter the response to therapy would be more moderate. After six months of treatment it would be easier to separate out the two possible diagnoses.
  258. Dr. Heke's further reports

    Report dated 17th September 2014 (C104).

  259. Following the professionals' meeting Dr. Heke had 12 sessions with the mother in order to assess her response to therapy, her capacity and level of insight and to provide an opinion regarding her mental health diagnosis and, in particular, to deal with the question raised by Dr. Castle as to whether any personality traits pre-dated the trauma. She was also provided with a full court bundle up to 25th June 2014 and subsequent reports from RH.
  260. In her report, dated 17th September 2014 Dr. Heke noted that the mother presented positively, engaged extremely well and demonstrated a sincere motivation to overcome the past problems she experienced due to repeated psychological and emotional abuse. She was always well-presented, polite, respectful and is clearly highly educated with an excellent intellect.
  261. The mother did not present with any patterns of thinking, mood or behaviours that are indicative of any severe or enduring mental health problems, including severe psychosis or bi-polar disorder that would require long-term management and psychiatric treatment. She did not currently present a risk to herself or others. Dr. Heke had no concern for the mother or X. (C108)
  262. Dr. Heke found the mother's presentation entirely plausible as someone who had been subjected to multiple and repeated trauma but who has made a significant endeavour to overcome the problems associated with this. She noted that the mother had "now" (presumably in the course of therapy) disclosed a history of increasing emotional and psychological abuse by the father, who learned from her parents' behaviour how to control her, but in ways that were not observable by others.(C106) Dr. Heke advised that the key factor in Mother's recovery was no longer being threatened by the father.
  263. She concluded that the mother had suffered from complex and severe PTSD. There was no evidence to support diagnoses either of paranoid personality or bi-polar disorders. (C110, para. 3.4.2) Based on the mother's reports of the father's behaviour, Dr. Heke repeated her proposal that he should be subject to a full in-depth psychological or psychiatric assessment in order to assess his parenting capacity, and potential inter-personal and personality-related factors that could explain the mother's experiences. She repeated her recommendation that X should be subject to a full psychological assessment, including his interactions with both parents.
  264. I note that although Dr. Heke had been provided with a full court bundle up to June 2014, she made no reference to the father's accounts of his relationship with the mother, and the violence which he says she perpetrated against him.
  265. Report dated 2nd March 2015 - (C127)

  266. A further report from Dr. Heke, dated 2nd March 2015, became available to the parties and the court only after the pre-hearing review on 24th March. Dr. Heke noted that the mother has reported re-experiencing physiological and medically unexplained physical symptoms, referred to as 'somatic re-experiencing', as a result of participating in court hearings, (a reference to the final hearing in the ancillary relief proceedings in December and January).
  267. Letter dated 17th March 2015 - (C138)

  268. The mother asked Dr. Heke to comment on three issues:
  269. I note that the mother had not requested permission to record contact sessions with X, she had done so covertly. Dr. Heke's view that an assessment of the parents and X is a priority relies solely on the mother's reports and is not borne out by any other observation of X or the father. The guardian did not consider that there is any need for X to be subjected to an assessment. In supporting the mother's request to take X riding, Dr. Heke appears to be unaware that the mother had attempted to abduct X from the contact centre, and had not had contact by then for some six weeks because she refused to sign the revised contract with RH.
  270. Dr. Castle's addendum report dated 24th March 2015 (C133)

  271. The father and the guardian, who remain concerned about the mother's behaviour and mental health, hoped to obtain the psychiatric overview which had been discussed at the professionals' meeting. When the mother's public funding was embargoed, Ms. Lonnen applied for prior authority to pay the costs of the report under the guardian's public funding certificate but this was refused. The father offered to pay Dr. Castle's fees. The report was to be filed by 6th February 2015.
  272. The mother made an appointment to see Dr. Castle on 31st October 2014 but cancelled it because of lack of funding. When she was offered an appointment with Dr. Castle on 2nd December, she suggested that the father should take it. On 11th January 2015 the mother sent an email to Ms. Lonnen, indicating that she would not see Dr. Castle again, but if the parties were to instruct an "honest" witness, she would agree to see that person. She did not respond to subsequent emails on the subject.
  273. On 10th February 2015 the mother sent an application to the court, which included a request to instruct a new expert in trauma. I had explained the procedure to her at the hearing on 23rd September 2014. At my request, a member of the court staff wrote to the parties setting out the information that the mother must provide in support of her application. That information had not been provided by the hearing on 24th March 2015, and I refused it the application.
  274. The mother's position was that she was not refusing to see Dr. Castle, and on 16th March 2015 she requested an appointment with him, but by then he could not offer her an appointment which would enable him to complete his report in time for the hearing. Initially, Dr. Castle was not prepared to provide an addendum report without meeting the mother again but, when he realised that she had refused to see him, he decided that he could be criticised for providing a report on the papers, which he did.
  275. In her written submissions the mother argued that Dr. Castle's evidence should be struck out and Dr. Castle should pay costs. She complained that he did not carry out psychometric testing. The mother's solicitors took the lead in instructing him, as I have noted and, as far as I am aware, this was not part of his remit.
  276. Dr. Castle had been provided with full updating information, including Dr. Heke's most recent report. He noted two conflicting strands of information with regard to the mother's current psychological state. The Complex Needs Team, who had assessed the mother over a number of years, had found there was no treatable mental illness, and there had been no concerns with prolonged periods of contact. In addition, he referred to Dr. Heke's report, which made it clear that the mother had engaged well with all the assessments, which would have been challenging. Dr. Heke had reported an absence of any intrusive and debilitating psychiatric symptoms, such as dissociative states, elevated mood or distressing anxiety. She had concluded that there were no psychological or psychiatric problems at all currently, and that the previous chronic and severe post-traumatic stress disorder is largely or entirely resolved. However, there were a number of reported events that should be considered, and may be of concern with regard to the mother's mental health, including:
  277. He says that it is for the court, rather than a psychiatrist or a psychologist, to decide whether the above concerns are valid. If they are groundless then, in his opinion, they were likely to be driven by persecutory thinking rather than deliberate conscious manipulation. Given the conflicting evidence, he said it is difficult to be categorical about the diagnosis.
  278. He noted that the picture remains unclear and it is not immediately obvious how to achieve greater clarification, because the normal steps for further assessment have been completed without much benefit. He had previously concluded that the mother suffered from paranoid personality traits, and if the various concerns that he had referred to were identified as being driven by persecutory thinking, then their intrusiveness and the longevity of the symptoms makes it more likely that she suffers from a paranoid personality disorder rather than traits of that disorder.
  279. 12 Relationships with professionals.

  280. The father relies on two matters as demonstrating that the mother cannot work with professionals.
  281. The case of Mr. C. 

  282. The first concerns an elderly gentleman to whom I will refer only as Mr. C . On 13th October 2014, on Ms. Lonnen's application, District Judge Batten, sitting in the Court of Protection, gave leave for limited, redacted documents relating to Mr. C to be disclosed into these proceedings, and I have read them, including the witness statement of Ashiman Indrajath (F100), who also gave evidence. She supervised the social worker allocated to Mr. C for two months in 2013, and then became Mr. C's allocated social worker.
  283. In 2013 Mr. C was 85. He had numerous and complex health conditions, including terminal cancer. He had been assessed as needing a place in a nursing home because of neglect, concerns about his compliance with medication and the progression of his terminal cancer. The mother's involvement with Mr. C is summarised in the report of an initial child protection conference in respect of a young person I will refer to as N, and it reads as follows:
  284. "Late last year (the mother) involved herself in the life of an elderly man she befriended. He was alone, frail with complex medical needs and vulnerable to exploitation. She removed him from a nursing home, had him sign letters appointing her as his next of kin and excluding his family from having access to his medical records, and tried to convince a GP to confirm that he was competent to make decisions about his care. Then she changed the locks at his home to restrict access by his family and the Older Person's social worker. Ultimately he was assessed as not having capacity and the Local Authority Adult Services had no choice but to apply to the Court of Protection to remove (the mother) from his home. He was returned to nursing care confused and dehydrated and died several weeks later."

  285. Having read all the documents from the Court of Protection I consider that a fair summary, to which I would add that the mother removed Mr. C from the nursing home on two occasions. When the social worker was eventually allowed access to Mr. C she found that he did not have the medication or other items which he required for his comfort. Mr. C's daughter supported the Local Authority's actions and Mr. Dearman, a witness called on her behalf by the mother, told me that Mr. C asked him to change his locks.
  286. The mother says that in those proceedings the family had an ulterior motive, based on Mr. C's will, which was made in their favour but did not then accord with his wishes. She wanted to help him live as long as possible in accordance with his wishes, and she submitted to the Court of Protection that she should be allowed to continue to run his affairs and contribute to his physical and mental wellbeing. (F122)
  287. I have read the witness statement of Mr. Dearman, which is in letter form (F146) and he came to court. He confirmed that he knew Mr. C for years. The mother took Mr. C's shopping and looked after him, and when she brought him back from the nursing home he had changed the locks at Mr. C's request to prevent his daughter and son-in-law from gaining access. He was fond of the mother and told Mr. Dearman that he had given her his car.
  288. The case of N.

  289. The other matter refers to the young woman, to whom I will refer only as N. I have read the witness statement of Lydia Bartlett, who was N's allocated social worker from February 2014 and also heard her evidence.
  290. The London Borough of Enfield became involved with N, who was then aged 15, and her family from about October 2013. N's father was an alcoholic and there was a history of domestic violence in the home. N's mother arranged for N to live with the mother. The Local Authority carried out a private fostering assessment, in the course of which N's mother died and her father withdrew his consent to the fostering arrangement. The mother in these proceedings applied for a special guardianship order but did not meet the legal criteria.
  291. The Local Authority was concerned that the mother was focused on, and motivated by, her own needs to the detriment of N's needs, was interfering with N's attempts to have contact with her father and undermining her relationships with her extended family. As a result they did not support N remaining in the mother's care.
  292. At an initial child protection conference on 14th February 2014 reports indicated that N had told a teacher that she wanted to see her father but was afraid to defy the mother who did not want her to do so. (F61) The report also described poor conditions in the mother's home. (F62)
  293. The conference report noted:
  294. "The mother has become very entwined in the family's life … she has cast herself as something of an expert in behaviour psychology and the law … (she) has a forceful personality and sees things from a very rigid perspective that does not allow for dissent or disagreement. She can be very persuasive and she exercises a greater degree of influence over N than is in her best interests. Some of the more evident traits in her character are a lack of insight into her own behaviour and its impact on others, and an absolute conviction that she is right about everything. These traits make it difficult to see things from the perspective of others." (F64)

    As a result, N was made the subject of a child protection plan under the category of emotional abuse.

  295. Ms. Bartlett told me that N wanted to return to her home to live with her father and grandmother and she was working with her towards that, and in fact she did return home on 13th January 2015. But, on same date, the mother reported to the police that N had been seen by a third party eating food which she had retrieved from a dustbin. The police spoke to N who appeared shocked by the allegation. (E45) She would not believe that the mother had made the report to the police. (NB153/12)
  296. The mother has asserted that she had a good working relationship with Ian Pritchard, who was N's worker at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, and the parties have no reason to gainsay that.
  297. N  has written to the court in support of the mother on two occasions: on 20th June 2013 and 30th March 2015. In the first letter she describes the mother as "a real spirit and motivator" who had changed many of the residents of [the street where she lives] (B66). In the second letter she describes the mother as a caring, loving guardian who has acted selflessly and done what she thought was best for N against the wishes of social services. The mother was willing to work with social services but they would not work with her. (F180)
  298. 13 Complaints of professional misconduct.

  299. The mother has made official complaints about most of the professionals involved in this and related matters.
  300. On 2nd January 2015 the mother made a complaint to Lydia Bartlett's managers at the London Borough of Enfield, accusing her of abusing, blackmailing and victimising N. (E43) She also made a complaint to social care managers at Enfield in respect of Ms. Indrajath.
  301. Dr. Castle has noted in his report that the mother has made a complaint to his professional body. I do not know the nature of that complaint. The father told me that the mother made a complaint of a sexual nature to the Enfield Complex Care Team about Dr. Kustow. I have seen no documents referring to that matter. I understand from Ms. Lonnen that the mother has made a professional complaint against her, but I do not know the nature of the complaint.
  302. The mother has made formal complaints in respect of the guardian, Ms. Clarke. In her written submissions the mother told me that she had submitted the first part of her complaint against the guardian on 16th April 2015. I have not seen the document but the mother has made a number of allegations about the guardian's conduct in the course of these proceedings. She has alleged that the guardian has harassed her and X. (B172) In an email to the court and the parties, dated 14th April, the mother alleged that the guardian had not included in her report things that X had said which were reported at the meeting with RH on 13th February. Her evidence should therefore be ruled out and a solicitor appointed directly for X as his views are not being heard. In an email to the parties and the court, dated 16th April, the mother accused the guardian of not being impartial, not acting in X's best interests and of supporting abuse. The guardian reported that when she attempted to contact a third potential contact supervisor nominated by the mother, the mother accused her of harassment.
  303. Mr. Boyden, of Bairstow Eves, estate agents, has been appointed by the court as agent for the sale of the property which was the subject of the ancillary relief hearing. In her letter 30th March 2015 the mother notified him that she had taken preliminary legal advice about making a complaint about him. In a letter to Mr. Boyden, she indicated that she is making a complaint about Ms. Abrahams, the father's solicitor.
  304. As I have mentioned, the mother has said that she has made a complaint about RH.
  305. In email correspondence she also alleged that counsel has misled the court. (G78)
  306. Other complaints.

  307. Finally, in her written submissions the mother says that she has reported the father's "abduction" of X on 6th November 2011 to the police who are investigating it.
  308. 14 The mother's case.

  309. The mother claims that she was X's  primary carer until he was two years old and they had a strong bond.
  310. She accepts that she has suffered from PTSD, but says that the father exaggerates its effect in order to strengthen his case. She asserts that he tried to control her and tried to get her to take medication, to make her mental state worse, so that he could control her. She says she never threatened suicide, but he was trying to make her suicidal. He left her in November 2011 because he could not adjust to her recovery, and she believes that he had planned to leave for a long time.
  311. In an email to the father's solicitor, dated 11th March 2015, the mother described the father as "an outright liar" who had "fun" abusing her. In her written submissions she says that the father "lacks the ability to provide for emotional needs and is over-controlling."
  312. She does not accept the father's description of her as "wilful, dominating, aggressive, obsessive, attention-seeking, and totally driven by self-interest…" (B25/25) She says she is focused on her child.
  313. The mother has not always considered the father to be the author of all her difficulties. In a "statement of clarification and purpose", which is dated 24th July 2012, the mother says that she suffered from PTSD, associated anxiety, depression and mental health issues for four and a half years. She said: "Throughout this time [the father] was my main carer and did everything he could to support me", although she goes on to say that he became unwell and needed to be with her 24 hours a day, even when she could manage alone. Nevertheless, she acknowledged his support and care during her illness. [B139] In a second document of the same date, the mother says, under the heading "Overprotection":
  314. "He did everything he could to support me and I undoubtedly owe my life to him." [B143]

  315. She says that they had a strong relationship, until the "crash" in her health following the hearing before the Employment Tribunal in March 2011. She says in October 2011 they were trying for another child. Now she describes him as "one of the triggers" of her PTSD. (B49, para 35) She says that with time has she come to realise just how he abused her.
  316. The mother holds firmly to the view, expressed as recently as this morning in an email to the court and the parties, that X has been emotionally and psychologically damaged by the father, the guardian and the court. She said "It's only X who is the victim, while you all protect your positions … at X's  expense."
  317. 15 The father's case.

    Care of X.

  318. The father's case is that he has been X's  primary carer throughout his life. He has certainly cared for him for the past three and a half years, and all the third party reports say that X is thriving.
  319. His view of the mother.

  320. I have set out his description of the mother as she is now. He says that she is not the woman he first knew. He told me she has absolutely no boundaries, she does not care about the consequences of her actions. She has constructed a history and repeated it consistently, for example, to Dr. Heke.
  321. Now, he blames himself for not having left her sooner. He told me he was not equipped in any way to deal with her or the situation. He described his behaviour in staying with her as long as he did as "unfathomly idiotic".
  322. The mother's health.

  323. The father's view is that the mother engaged with health professionals when they were useful to her, and disengaged when she did not agree with their views, for example, with Dr. Kustow who said that she had a personality disorder, and Dr. Brenner, who told her that she should face up to her alcoholism.
  324. He did not want her to be medicated; but when the doctors made those recommendations he supported them: medication was recommended by Dr. Kustow, Dr. Brenner and Dr. Turnbull.
  325. Finance.

  326. The father told me that he supported the mother financially, and financed her litigation. By the end of their relationship he had nothing but debts. After he left the mother he was sued, successfully, by the London Borough of Enfield for £10,000, which she owed them, and by her parents for £7,500 which she owed them.
  327. He has borrowed extensively from his parents and, as a result, owes them £132,000 which he has been repaying at the rate of £750 per month for the past two years.
  328. The father's views about contact.

  329. At the beginning of these proceedings, the father did not oppose contact, although he wanted it to be supervised because he was concerned that the mother was unwell and if X were in her care she might abduct him, or she might become irritable and could cause him serious harm.
  330. As I have set out, initially contact was supported but by May 2013 the father argued for supervised contact. He told me that he has not told X that there are things he must not talk about to the mother. He also told me that in the two and a half months since X last saw his mother he has not asked after her.
  331. The father's position now is as follows. He tells me that X knows, and will always know, that he has a mummy who loves him, and he also knows that she is not well and he may see her in the future.
  332. The father accepts that there are some positive aspects to contact, and X has enjoyed it. He understands that guardian wishes to maintain this link for X. He will respect the court's decision and if I order contact, he will support it. But, he does not accept that contact is positive overall. He is concerned about X's  physical security, noting that the mother tried to abduct X from RH, and lied about a court order to do so.
  333. He notes also that RH is prepared to continue to facilitate contact, but the mother will not accept their terms. He believes that at the moment she is not seeking contact with X and her position with regard to RH is a mechanism for engaging in the court process.
  334. The father is concerned about X's  emotional security. He refers to references throughout the notes to the mother's questioning X and making comments which the father says are intended to undermine his relationship and his life with X. The mother has made false allegations of rape, which she continues to repeat, and he believes that she will repeat them, including to X. As X grows the father is concerned about his emotional health as he realises that he only sees the mother in a secure setting with other people present and, as X begins to question the mother, the father is concerned about her response to him.
  335. When asked about the impact on him of the mother's behaviour, including at contact, the father said: "Fear" and "I'm on constant high alert." He says that the mother uses contact as a tool to get at him, and he referred to "running battles" in which X and he are the only victims, which he finds confusing, and increasingly harmful. He tries not to allow the impact on him to affect X but it is very difficult and very stressful, and it affects his sleep.
  336. He is terrified of the things the mother may do, which affect his day to day arrangements, for example, in respect of who collects X from school. The litigation, in which he has almost always been represented before me, is a constant financial drain and a worry, and he has to use much of his holiday allowance to attend court hearings.
  337. The father told me that the police have contacted him on five separate occasions as a result of the mother's reports. On one occasion she told them that he had abandoned X when, in fact, he had taken X to Manchester to visit friends. On another occasion she alleged emotional abuse and police came to his parents' home when the father and X were on holiday. She persuaded the police to serve her application for a non-molestation order. She alleged that he sexually abused X and that he has raped her. No further action has been taken in respect of any of these matters, but the father has been subjected to investigation by the police and social services. She has come to his parents' home committing acts which are almost breaches of the Restraining Order, but for which the police have not been able to arrest her.
  338. The father says that if the mother were consistent, if she would agree to observe boundaries to the things she says to X, and the things she asks him, and if she did not make subversive comments about his life, X would be protected. But her behaviour makes contact unsafe for X, who is not equipped to deal with her. The father observes that social workers and healthcare professionals have struggled. He concludes that contact is not safe, it is not in the interests of X's  welfare and therefore should stop.
  339. When X is older, and with the benefit of a confident childhood, a strong emotional base and a supportive family, he will be better able to deal with the mother.
  340. The father believes that the mother will continue to harass him, whether she has contact six times a year, as recommended by the guardian, or no contact. He does not see how it could be worse.
  341. 16 The guardian's evidence.

  342. Ms. Clarke has been X's  guardian for almost three years. Her CV is set out in her report dated 8th April 2015 at E52. She is a highly qualified and very experienced guardian. I have set out the guardian's views about X, and I have noted her concern that he has been the subject of these proceedings for most of his life.
  343. In her most recent report the guardian set out her concerns about the mother. She says:
  344. "My concern for X is that, despite all the evidence I have to date, that he is a happy little boy, well cared for and meeting developmental milestones, [the mother] is convinced of the contrary. She appears to manifest altruistic beliefs that X needs to be somehow protected and saved from his father's care. This, I suggest, has been the driver behind her consistent requests for X to receive a psychological assessment of his needs. This matter has been dealt with by the court and therefore has had no impact on X. It is particularly troubling that [the mother's] report of concerns to victim support led to a recent social services investigation and X being subjected to an anal examination." (E54, para.7)

    She continues:

    "[The mother] appears unwilling to consider that X is well cared for by his father, who she perceives as psychologically damaged. Such is the certainty of her views on this matter, and her fear for X's emotional welfare, that I believe that there is a real risk that she might seek to abduct X to protect him from his father if contact is not supervised by an independent professional agency in the future. From my reading of the documentation made available to me it appears there may be a pattern developing in relation to [the mother's] views regarding what is in the best interests of others. . ." (para. 8)

    and she refers here to Mr. C and N :

    ". . .and being at variance with the assessments made by professionals in these matters."

  345. The guardian told me that the mother has a very charismatic personality and is very driven. She is an attractive, energising person and it can be an enjoyable experience to be around her. But such a person has to be ruthless and rigid in her thinking. She will not accept challenge, she has no ability to reflect and no insight.
  346. In the guardian's view, the father, by contrast, does not have any such agenda as the mother attributes to him. She told me: "He is the opposite of the mother. He is amazingly co-operative, warm, welcoming, listens to my views and reflects. He has put his case to the court because he genuinely believes it is in X's  best interests. He is not driven by any malicious thoughts."
  347. Assessment of the mother's proposed contact supervisors.

  348. At the hearing on 23rd September 2014 I invited the guardian to assess two people nominated by the mother to supervise contact with X in the community. (A80) The mother proposed Mr. Lawrence and Mrs. Ellis. In her report she noted that:
  349. "Mr. Lawrence is a retired teacher, aged 76, who has had no previous contact with X. He presents as an intelligent and responsible individual with a background as a teacher and, indeed, was my teacher in the 1960s. Now, Mr. Lawrence is physically frail, and he has a diagnosis of terminal cancer. His mobility is poor and he walks with the aid of a stick, and it was evident from my conversation with him that he feels very much indebted to the mother, who takes him to hospital appointments and shopping."
  350. The guardian believes that, given the nature of his relationship with the mother, Mr. Lawrence would find it difficult to challenge her if he regarded her behaviour as in any way inappropriate or if it were in non-compliance with a court order.
  351. The other proposed contact supervisor was Miss Ellis, a teacher, aged 30, who also presented as an intelligent and responsible individual, who had had no contact with X. She was pregnant at the time the guardian interviewed her, and was unsure about how she might feel about the prospect of committing to the role of contact supervisor after her baby was born. She also expressed concern about being placed in a potential conflict situation between X's  parents. She said she would have to take the baby with her to any contact she might be expected to supervise.
  352. The guardian has serious concerns regarding the influence that the mother may seek to exert over the individuals she had nominated as community contact supervisors, particularly Mr. Lawrence, who presents as a very vulnerable individual. Given the mother's very forceful personality the guardian doubts that they would feel able or willing to challenge any interpretation she might make of any court order detailing contact arrangements. Her concerns are heightened by the incident at RH on 24th January.
  353. Recommendations.

  354. The guardian's professional judgment is that X is being well cared for by his father, with whom he enjoys a close and loving relationship. He has a similarly warm relationship with his mother, especially when they engage in play together. This was supported by the RH contact notes. It was her hope that concerns about the mother might be allayed by now, so that X might have regular and unsupervised contact with her, but contact has not progressed to this extent because of the mother's seemingly unwarranted suspicion of others, particularly the father, and her fixed perception of herself as a victim who has been harmed and plotted against, the certainty with which she holds views as to what is in X's  best interests, and her unwillingness to work constructively with professionals who challenge her rigid views, and her apparent unwillingness or inability to accept responsibility for her actions. (E58, para.17)
  355. The guardian says that during the course of these proceedings she has become increasingly troubled by the strength of the mother's belief that X is at risk of some form of psychological harm, a complete lack of insight of the effect of her behaviour on others, and her apparent unwillingness to accept responsibility for her behaviour.
  356. The guardian recommends that X's  care arrangements should be finalised, so that he has stability and routine in his life, and recommends that he remain resident with his father, and have supervised contact with his mother. She told me that the father has brought up a child who is "an absolute delight, a joy to be around." (NB153/86)
  357. Contact.

  358. The guardian spoke at length in her oral evidence about X's  contact with his mother which she described as a positive experience for X. She hoped that it could be sustained at the current level, which was once a fortnight.
  359. She acknowledged the effect of the mother's behaviour on the father, including at contact, and told me: "The mother seems to have almost a complete vendetta against the father…I wouldn't rule out her using contact to make life difficult for him."
  360. In the course of the hearing, the guardian revised her recommendation which had been that contact should take place once a month, to contact six times a year, during the school holidays, suggesting that this level of contact will provide X with a link with his mother.
  361. Supervision.

  362. The guardian advised that contact should be closely supervised because of the likelihood that the mother would try to abduct X, and because of the risk that she would make negative comments to X about the father. For the reasons I have previously set out she does not support supervision in the community by the mother's nominees.
  363. The guardian noted that after contact broke down at AL, it took six months to identify RH as a venue for supervised contact because there are a limited number of supervised contact providers within a manageable travel distance from the child's home. If it were now necessary to approach a new provider, she anticipates that the referral forms would ask questions about the history of contact and the difficulties at AL and RH would have to be disclosed, making it less likely that a new provider would accept a referral.
  364. She considers that RH is a suitable venue because it is a professional organisation, which facilitates contact in public law cases. The members of staff are well trained, skilled and open to discussion about their approach to monitoring contact, and she would propose to talk to them to make them aware of the need to protect X from the mother's inappropriate questions, such as those which suggest that the father has stopped X from talking to her. The guardian suggests that if the mother says inappropriate things to X the staff should stop contact and, if necessary, terminate it.
  365. She advises that contact should take place on the condition that the mother signs RH's contract and pays half the costs, plus the cost of the additional supervisor, and that she should pay her share of the costs sufficiently far in advance of each contact so that RH could give the father a week's notice that contact will take place. If the mother does not take up contact within two months from the date of the final order, the contact order should be discharged.
  366. The guardian gave careful consideration to the father's position that there should be no contact order. She is concerned that if X does not see his mother, he will not understand why he does not see her, given that he has enjoyed contact, and he may blame himself or blame the father. He might not talk to the father about his feelings about his mother, although she accepts that if X did talk to his father, the father would be able to help him, because he is emotionally intelligent. She is concerned that X might engage in "magical thinking" if he did not see his mother, and either idealise or demonise her.
  367. She is certain that if there is no order for contact, the mother's behaviour towards the father will escalate.
  368. The guardian told me that she supports the making of findings that X is not the product of rape, that the father did not sexually abuse X, and that the father is likely to remain the mother's target. She supports the making of an order under s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 for a period of five years. She told me that she sees "tremendous benefits" for X and the father of X not being the subject of proceedings without good reason. She also supports the father's applications for Prohibitive Steps Orders.
  369. I am satisfied that the guardian has given careful consideration to X's  wishes and feelings. She described to me his pleasure at seeing his mother and told me that she could not put the picture of his beaming smile out of her mind. She has assumed that he would wish to continue seeing his mother. In making her recommendation to the court, she has balanced against his wishes and feelings, X's  need for stability and security, and the need for the father, as primary carer, to be able to care for X without fear that his parenting will be disrupted or undermined.
  370. 17 Impressions of the mother.

  371. I have not seen the mother in the witness box, but I have seen her in court, including as a litigant in person on many occasions when she has made submissions and she has also sent me many emails.
  372. I have no doubt that the mother loves X. She has many strengths and can be an attractive and energising person, as the father and the guardian agree. The contact notes show X and the mother having a lovely time together, most of the time. However, the evidence also shows that she has strong views which she holds in a rigid manner. This seems to be the only explanation for her recent failure to see X, which is otherwise inexplicable.
  373. I have come to the view that she has behaved in ways which could cause X emotional damage, and I refer in particular to the incident on 10th January 2015 when she did not attend contact and wanted X to know that this was because the father had made her homeless. When she attempted to abduct X on 24th January, he seems to have been protected by the actions and manner of the staff.
  374. The mother has not one single good word to say about the father. She blames him for making her ill, prolonging her illness, and exaggerating its effects in order to keep X from her. She now accuses him of persuading her that she had a difficult and damaging childhood. She has harassed him and has been made subject to a three year restraining order.
  375. The mother is a determined and prolific litigator. When I refused to adjourn this hearing, I referred to the chronology of litigation and adjournments (B179). I have noted the official complaints she has lodged against almost every person involved in this and other litigation. On 15th April 2015, day three of the hearing, the mother wrote to me in an email which she copied to her solicitor and Dr. Heke:
  376. "I have no desire to make a fool out of anyone, however I will stop at nothing to ultimately prove my case".

  377. On 8th May 2015, in an e-mail addressed to the court, the parties and Dr. Heke she wrote:
  378. "However you have harmed my child enough, please at least stop this now. I have more than enough ammunition to take this further and an ingenious mind that will seek out a path in order to succeed…"

  379. The mother's recent behaviour causes me great concern. She has made serious accusations of abuse of herself and X, which have been investigated by police and social services and no further action has been taken.
  380. She has failed to see X for now almost four months because she refuses to sign a contract which would prevent her from recording the contact sessions. It is hard to resist the conclusion that being able to record the contact is more important to her than seeing X. She takes no responsibility for her failure to see X, but blames the contact centre and the father.
  381. She has recently written to X's  school suggesting that professionals share her concerns about the father's care of X and the child's emotional welfare, and she has tried to influence the views of his teachers.
  382. I have serious concerns about the mother's credibility. The mother did not file her final evidence and therefore has not given a full account of the incident at RH on 24th January 2015. But, in her final submissions, she refers to "my potential misinterpretation of the order of 19th November 2014", and says:
  383. "When I was told that the centre would need the father's agreement for me to take X out I realised this was not going to happen on that day so I stayed with X."
  384. The contact note says that the mother told them she had a new court order which allowed her to take X out of the centre. This was not true. The account in the contact note is detailed and clear, and I can think of no reason why the staff at RH should fabricate it. I do not accept the mother's suggestion that she misinterpreted the contact orders. She knew that she could not remove X from the contact centre. On 23rd September 2014 she had made an application to do so, which I had refused.
  385. The mother has given partial accounts of important events. She refers frequently to the ex parte injunctions she obtained against her parents in 2010, but omits to say that both applications were dismissed as being totally without merit, costs were awarded against her, and on the second occasion she was made the subject of Civil Restraint Order. Similarly, she misrepresented the effects of the restraining order when she wrote to X's  school on 9th March 2015.
  386. She has told a number of medical professionals that she was assaulted by her family on 27th December 2007. But, it appears that she has not told any medical professional, whom she has consulted since March 2011, that the Employment Tribunal found that her evidence was "substantially unreliable", that she instigated the physical violence and that her allegation that the police had issued warnings to her parents were not made out.
  387. The mother has misrepresented the views of others. Heather Robyn denied that she had made critical remarks about the father which the mother had attributed to her. PC Roberts denied that he told the mother that he was disappointed that her rape allegation could not be taken any further.
  388. The mother asserts that the father planned to remove X on 6th November 2011 and has told me that she has reported this "abduction" to the police who are investigating it. In my view, the print-out of texts from the father's phone supports his account, rather than hers.
  389. The exchange of texts between the father and Heather Robyn in early November 2011 makes it clear that Heather Robyn was unable to treat the mother while she was so ill, but had told her that she could return to therapy as soon as she felt able to. This runs counter to the mother's assertion that the father cut her off from therapy with Heather Robyn.
  390. The mother sent an email on 13th April 2015 at 20.37 stating that she had not been served with my order and other documents. The process server's statement said that he had served her at 20.15.
  391. The mother's criticisms of the father continue to develop and grow. Dr. Heke has reported the mother's critical account of her childhood, critical of her parents, that is. In an email sent to the court, the parties and Dr. Heke on 8th May, the mother says:
  392. "[The father] put huge efforts into brainwashing me with regard to my upbringing … (he) had me convinced I had been abused for my entire childhood."

  393. I have referred to the findings of the Employment Tribunal and Deputy District Judge Evans with regard to the mother's credibility.
  394. 18 Impressions of the father.

    Support for the mother.

  395. The documents I have seen suggest that the father provided a great deal of support to the mother when she was unwell. In early 2008 he supported her in her dispute with her parents, and gave evidence for her before the Employment Tribunal in 2011. He accompanied her to many appointments with medical professionals, he drove her to Rye for appointments with Heather Robyn, but did not attend the appointments with her. Ms. Robyn's opinion was that he had been "the best support anyone could expect from a partner." (B185)
  396. Credibility.

  397. A number of pieces of evidence support the father's credibility.
  398. Professor Sensky's report supports the father's account of the mother's illness in October 2010. He noted that the mother could become very distressed and, when her distress was particularly severe, the father had to support her. He wrote:
  399. "Neither [the mother nor the father] could predict at the start of any day whether it would be uneventful or whether [the mother] would become distressed. If [the father] was at work when [the mother] became distressed, he had to return home". (C4, C24 and C47)

  400. The texts between the father and Heather Robyn on 1st November 2011, and to Mrs. W on 2nd November, show him questioning at that time whether the mother's behaviour was attributable to his failure to provide the care she needed. (B185)
  401. The texts support the father's evidence that the mother's therapist and Dr. Turnbull, who specialises in treating PTSD, who had both treated her and were not relying solely on his account, considered that she was very unwell, might become violent, required medication as a temporary measure and seemed to be going in and out of psychosis. (B187) On 2nd November 2011 Heather Robyn advised that it was not safe to leave X alone with his mother and on 4th November she advised that he take X to stay with his parents. She advised him to contact the Home Treatment Team or the police, and on 6th November she sent him contact numbers and told him that he must keep himself and X safe. This account supports the father's evidence and undermines the mother's account that the father planned to abduct X.
  402. The mother relies on the fact that the father did not make contemporaneous reports of her violence towards him. The guardian told me that she discussed the father's allegations with him and thought that "there was a lot of embarrassment for him". I agree, and I also find that the father felt guilty, not because he abused the mother but because whatever he did, he could not help her. The mother's allegations of sexual abuse and violence perpetrated by the father are also very recent.
  403. Dr. Heke notes that the mother has given consistent accounts of the incident on 27th December 2007, and of the father's treatment of her. In his addendum report Dr. Castle reiterated his comments made in the professionals' meeting, namely that in his experience sufferers of a paranoid personality disorder will recount the events in a very detailed and apparently logical way, and it can be difficult to challenge this behaviour or see any flaws in the argument. (C136)
  404. I should add for completeness that the guardian told me that the father's evidence at court was consistent with the account he had given her and she had had the benefit of hearing the mother's account and of reading her evidence.
  405. In conclusion, I find that the mother's credibility is undermined by her own evidence and her conduct in the course of these proceedings. By contrast the father's credibility is supported by the evidence of others and by his conduct. Consequently, where there is a factual dispute between the mother and the father I accept the father's evidence.
  406. 19 Discussion.

    The medical evidence.

  407. It is difficult to know what to make of the extensive medical evidence about the mother. Dr. Castle has identified two strands of conflicting information with regard to her current psychological state and cannot be categorical about a diagnosis. He suggested that if her complaints about professionals are found to be baseless and overvalued, the most likely diagnosis is a paranoid personality which at times becomes intrusive and overwhelming for her. However, I am not in a position to determine the mother's complaints against professionals. I have little information about most of them and it is more appropriate for such matters to be considered by professional bodies. I can say that I have found no reason to disregard the evidence of Dr. Castle or of the guardian, and that I consider there is nothing to criticise and much to praise in the actions of the RH staff on 24th January 2015 and subsequently. In my experience, after an attempted abduction, many contact centres would have refused to facilitate any further contact.
  408. In his first report, Dr. Castle advised that with regard to the impact of the mother's illness on her parenting, it would be more appropriate to look at any potentially concerning behaviour and determine whether it can be explained through psychiatric illness. (C54) The mother's recent behaviour is concerning, but I have no diagnosis which might explain it.
  409. I have not ordered psychological or psychiatric assessments of the father or X. Dr. Heke's repeated suggestions that I should do so are based solely on the mother's accounts which are not supported by third party evidence. With regard to X, I have relied on the guardian's observations and her enquiries with his school. In the light of their positive comments, I consider that it would have been abusive to subject X to assessment.
  410. I have no independent psychological assessment of the effect on the father of the mother's behaviour towards him, either historically or in the course of these and other proceedings or in relation to contact. I have relied on the expertise and experience of the guardian, on my own experience as a family judge and my observation of the father in the witness box. The effect of the mother's conduct on the father was very clear. His evidence, given in a calm measured manner, was an account of years of emotional and physical abuse of a man who was persuaded that the abuse was his fault because he could not provide his abuser with better support. Giving that account caused the father evident distress. It is the sort of account which the courts more commonly hear from a woman, but it is no less compelling for being given by a man.
  411. Findings of fact.

  412. In her final submissions, Miss Wiley invited me to make a large number of findings. I have considered them, bearing in mind that there was no schedule of findings sought, and therefore the mother had no notice of this application and was not present at the hearing. However, the mother has provided written evidence on many of the matters which Miss Wiley raises.
  413. Having considered the evidence carefully and on the balance of probabilities, I make the following findings:
  414. 20 Decision.

    Children Act Applications.

  415. In considering the arrangements I should make for X I have at the front of my mind his welfare and the factors set out in the welfare checklist. I have also had regard to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects the rights of the mother and X, and the father, to a family life.
  416. I agree with the guardian that X should continue to live with his father where he is settled, happy and thriving. He has not lived with his mother for the past three and a half years, for much of which time she has been unwell, she has not seen him for the past four months, and I have found that she cannot prioritise his needs.
  417. Findings of domestic violence do not erect a barrier to contact but have to be taken into account. In this case, the mother has not acknowledged her abuse of the father, and continues to criticise him, and make allegations against him.
  418. I have given careful thought to the issue of X's  contact with his mother, balancing his wishes and feelings which I assume would be to continue to see her, against the risk of disruption and emotional damage to him and of abduction. The father has put forward a strong case for no contact and I do not minimise the effects of the mother's behaviour on him.
  419. Ultimately I have come to the view, similar to that of the guardian, that X should see his mother at a frequency which is sufficient to:
  420. I find that contact four times a year for three hours on each occasion is sufficient for this purpose, and that this is proportionate to X's  welfare needs, taken in the round. Contact can take place in the main school holidays and around the time of X's  birthday. However, in view of the mother's conduct, I consider that it is in X's  interests to be very clear about the conditions with which the mother must comply in order for contact to take place. Contact must be supervised because of the risk of abduction and the risk that the mother will question X and say things which will undermine his life with the father. Her nominees were not acceptable to the guardian and I accept the guardian's explanation.
  421. Contact will take place either at RH or a similar professional organisation agreed with the father. The mother must comply with the RH's or other centre's requirements, including, if it is RH, signing their 2nd draft contract. The mother must pay half the centre's costs, but all the costs of the additional supervisor, which I believe amounts to £120 per contact session. The father will pay the balance of £90 per contact session. The mother will pay her share of the costs sufficiently far in advance of contact so that RH or another centre can confirm to the father that contact will take place. In addition the mother must confirm by email to RH the day before the contact that she will attend, to reduce the risk that X makes a wasted journey and is disappointed.
  422. If the mother questions X about the father, or makes any derogatory or undermining comment about the father, RH will terminate that contact.
  423. If the mother does not take up contact and does not see X within two months from the date of this order, the contact order will be suspended. If the mother misses more than one contact the contact order will be suspended.
  424. The father's application for a s.91(14) Order.

  425. The father seeks an order under s.91(14) of the Children Act 1989 for a duration of five years. I reiterate for the benefit of the mother that this is an order which limits the ability of a parent to make an application for an order under the Children Act without the permission of a judge. The guardian supports the application and advised that it would be a great benefit to X and the father for X not to be the subject of further proceedings without good reason. I have assumed that the mother would oppose the application.
  426. I have considered the guidance set out in Re: P (Section 91(14) Guidelines) (Residence and Religious Heritage) [1999] 2 FLR 573, and I acknowledge that an order requiring the mother to obtain leave to make an application is draconian, although it is not an absolute bar to further applications.
  427. These applications have been before the court for three and a half years, and the mother has told me that she will not give up until she has won. I have referred to the distress which the mother's conduct within this litigation and in related issues has caused the father.
  428. The history I have set out in this judgment, together with the mother's declared intention, in my view, takes this case beyond the common situation. I also find that if I do not place a restriction on the mother's ability to litigate about X, both he and his father will be subject to unacceptable strain.
  429. Having considered the matter carefully, and in the hope that the mother will take the opportunity of having contact, and do so in a reasonable manner, I have decided that I will make an order pursuant to s.91(14) but for a duration of three years. I hope that in that time the mother will have re-established contact with X and that further applications to the court will not be necessary.
  430. I will make Prohibited Steps Orders preventing the mother from removing X from his school, the contact centre and the jurisdiction. These orders take effect immediately as the mother is at court and has heard me make them.
  431. I dismiss the mother's applications for orders under the Children Act.
  432. Family Law Act application for a non-molestation order.

  433. I have said that I prefer the father's evidence to the mother's. She has not proved her case on the balance of probabilities. I can draw no conclusion from the print-outs of emails without expert evidence which was not available. The extracts from text books, which the mother provided and which I have read, set out generalities and do not assist me in deciding the specifics of her allegations. I have made findings that she has abused the father and that he has not abused her.
  434. I dismiss her application as being totally without merit and as vexatious.
  435. Costs.

  436. There are a number of other matters I need to deal with. The first is the father's application for an order for costs of the application for a non-molestation order. His solicitors sent to me, on 8th April 2015 (with the witness bundles) a copy of the cost schedule. I have arranged for the mother to have a photocopy of the costs schedule and I will give you a few minutes to consider it, and then you can address me on it if you wish to.
  437. Outstanding Matters.

  438. The other matters which remain to be considered are whether the mother wishes to make an application for permission to appeal my judgment and my decisions.
  439. There is the question of whether or not my judgment should be published in anonymised form on Bailii. This is a procedure which was introduced in February 2014. Bailii is a website. The President of the Family Division issued guidance for the publication of judgments. There are some instances in which judgments have to be published, for example after contested hearings in public law cases but this is not a public law case. In a private law case a judgment can be published if the judge considers that it is in the public interest. It is published in anonymised form; that means that the identity of X, the mother and father, and anyone who is not a professional in these proceedings, is hidden behind initials so that they cannot be recognised.
  440. Clarification:

    On reading this transcript of my judgment I noted that in paragraphs 33 - 35 I did not set out the civil burden and standard of proof which applies to allegations made in family cases. I referred to the balance of probabilities in paragraph 315 (with reference to findings of fact) and in paragraph 332 (with reference to the mother's application for a non-molestation order). For the avoidance of doubt, in considering these matters I kept in mind the fact that the person who makes an allegation has to prove it on the balance of probabilities.

    HHJ Levy, 3 June 2015


BAILII: Copyright Policy | Disclaimers | Privacy Policy | Feedback | Donate to BAILII
URL: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/OJ/2015/B168.html