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England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions

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Cite as: [2018] EWHC 3295 (Fam)

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

Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWHC 3295 (Fam)
Case No: LV17C01051


Liverpool Civil & Family Courts
35 Vernon Street
Liverpool L2 2BX

B e f o r e :



- and -

(1) M
(2) F
(3) A, B, C, D, E, F, G
(via their Children's Guardian)


Digital Transcription by Marten Walsh Cherer Ltd.,
1st Floor, Quality House, 6-9 Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP.
Telephone No: 020 7067 2900. Fax No: 020 7831 6864 DX 410 LDE


MR S CRABTREE for the Applicant
MS A HOWARD and Ms HALSHALL-FISCHER for the First Respondent
MR J KHAN and Ms F TURNER for the Second Respondent
MR S POVOAS for the Third Respondents



Crown Copyright ©

    This Transcript is Crown Copyright.  It may not be reproduced in whole or in part other than in accordance with relevant licence or with the express consent of the Authority.  All rights are reserved.


  1. There has been significant delay in arriving at this final composite hearing which was listed for 20 days. That is due to a number of causes, including late revelations and allegations of sexual abuse, and inter-sibling sexual activity; subsequent police investigations and the international element. I have been determined, largely due to that delay and my concern about the impact of that delay on the welfare of the children, to give a judgment on Day 20. Therefore, this judgment is being given orally in order to achieve that objective, and accordingly I reserve the right to perfect this judgment; and at the conclusion of the judgment counsel are invited to indicate any areas that require clarification or to indicate any errors or omissions in the judgment.
  2. I am dealing with seven children: A, born on 31 January 2005, aged 13; B, born 19 April 2007, aged 11; C, born 24 December 2008, aged 9 3/4; D, born 15 October 2010, aged 7, almost 8; E, born 3 December 2012, aged 5 years, 10 months; F, born 24 June 2015, aged 3; G, born 28 April 2017, aged 1 year, 5 months. The children appear through their Children's Guardian, P W, and are represented by Mr Povoas.
  3. The Local Authority, represented by Mr Crabtree, has made applications for care orders in respect of the older six children, and a placement order in respect of E and F. G is in Pakistan, where he was born, and has remained. He is currently a ward of court.
  4. The mother is represented by Ms Howard and Ms Halshall-Fischer. The father is represented by Mr Khan and Ms Turner. The parents' view is that the older six children should be rehabilitated to the care of the mother, and they would consent to the making of a care order on that basis. They oppose the applications for a placement order.
  5. Their position is that G is being cared for by the paternal grandmother, and that following the allegations of sexual abuse against the paternal grandfather in Pakistan, he has left the family home. Their case is that he is receiving good enough care in Pakistan, and there is an acceptance that he has not been returned to this country largely because if he was returned, he would be taken into care.
  6. Emergency travel documents are available, but without a NICOP card, he cannot leave Pakistan. The evidence that I have, such as it is, is that the parents would need to cooperate in order to secure the NICOP card. If the court rules that all of the children cannot be rehabilitated to the mother's care, then she asks that some of them are rehabilitated to her care. The father accepts that he cannot provide good enough care for the children.
  7. Whilst the Children's Guardian supports the applications for care orders in respect of the older six children, and also supports the continuation of wardship in respect of G, he is opposed to the making of the placement orders on the basis that E and F should remain in their current foster placements on the basis of long-term foster care.
  8. There are also issues around parental contact; a forced marriage protection order; and whether the parents' passports should be retained by the Local Authority. The Local Authority has, pursuant to court direction, drawn up a final schedule of findings which appears, inter alia, at C609. That document also contains the father's responses to the findings sought.
  9. In order to decide the issues in this case, I have an extensive hearing bundle, which runs to six lever arch files; a supplemental bundle; and I have prepared another bundle with the very helpful closing submissions made by counsel for all parties. I have also had an opportunity to consider the DVDs of the interviews of the children. I have also been given two bundles of documents by the parents. The mother's bundle contained lots of letters, cards and pictures with loving messages from the children; the father's bundle contains school achievement, awards and other extracurricular certificates, photographs, letters and cards, and pictures with loving messages. I have also had an opportunity to view more photographs this morning on a laptop provided by Mr Khan.As I will say later in this judgment, I have no doubt that the parents love their children, and the children love them.
  10. I have also heard oral evidence from a number of witnesses, including the parents, the social worker, three experts, and the Children's Guardian. I intend to deal with the evidence in some detail. No party made an application for any of the children to give oral evidence or to be cross-examined. The current position is that A is in a foster placement on her own, as is B. C and D are in foster placement together, as are E and F.
  11. The oral evidence:

  12. I heard from the social worker RM. Mr Crabtree on behalf of the Local Authority has very helpfully prepared a schedule of documents prepared by the social worker, as they are numerous. She became the allocated social worker on 14 March 2017. She co-worked the case with CC between March and July 2017, and with VJ between July and October 2017. Since then, she has been the sole allocated social worker.
  13. Assault on B:

  14. In her oral evidence, she was asked to deal with the assault perpetrated by the father on B. At C284 and 285 she described that the father has a conviction for assaulting B between 11 and 12 March 2017. The father pleaded guilty to the assault on 18 April 2017. He received a suspended sentence, and was required to work with probation. The father had said that the assault happened when the mother was out with F, and he was home with the other children.
  15. The father's version of what happened is significantly minimised when compared to B's account. At that stage, 6 December 2017, he was maintaining that this was a one-off incident. On 20 July 2017, B told the social worker that both of her parents and all her siblings were downstairs when she was assaulted. She was hit with a wooden spoon so hard she thought that her leg was broken. It was the worst pain she had ever felt in her life. She could not even walk properly. The social worker observed that she was extremely fearful about saying what she did.
  16. On 20 November 2017 A described how the father had assaulted B. She describes seeing the spoon break. It was a wooden spoon, it snapped. The mother did tell the father to stop. The social worker described how A's body language changed when she was describing the incident. She was looking down at the floor at different points. Her eyes were closed, as if she was thinking about what happened. She seemed very considered in what she was saying. This was said in the presence of C and D. The social worker said that the four girls were confident enough to say if they disagreed with something, but they said nothing on this occasion.
  17. Reference was made to the chronology at C13:
  18. "Referral from (school). B's teacher had told her that she was going to have to speak with her parents as B had taken a pencil case home that belonged to another child. The school stated that B became very distressed, shaking and crying, and begging her teacher not to talk to her parents. When asked why, B eventually said, 'If I tell you, you can't tell anybody', and then went on to say that she was scared of getting whipped with a wire, or hit with a wooden spoon, if her father was told. B said that this happened before."
  19. She was spoken to in school by a social worker, and her head teacher, and alleged that her father had hit her with a wooden spoon on Saturday or Sunday the previous weekend; and stated that the spoon had broken, insinuating that this was as a result of the force used. B alleged that her father then proceeded to hit her with his hands. She was reluctant to show the social worker the bruises to her body, but would show her teacher.
  20. B had two circular bruises to her left thigh, which she said were from being hit with the spoon, and two linear bruises to her right thigh, which she said were from being hit with a wire, a phone charger. B had a child protection medical, which concluded that the circular bruises to her left thigh were non-accidental, and consistent with her account of being hit with a wooden spoon.
  21. There was then a visit to the family home by two social workers, and the father was asked if he would be willing to leave the family home whilst investigations were completed in relation to some allegations that had been made against him. A telephone interpreter was used, and both parents stated that whilst they were not happy about this, they would agree to this, and understood why they were being asked for this to happen, although the exact details of the allegations could not be provided due to it being a potential police investigation.
  22. On the following day, the mother and father signed a written agreement, which clearly stated that the Local Authority were requesting that the father was to reside outside of the family home for three weeks whilst the section 47 investigation was completed, and the children should only have contact with their father that was supervised by the Local Authority. The seriousness of the risks were identified in respect of the children, and clearly explained to both parents.
  23. A joint visit took place between the social worker and police, to see the mother; and a telephone interpreter was used. The social worker said that she was very surprised when the father entered a guilty plea on 18 August 2017 as until then he had been absolutely insistent that he did not cause injury.
  24. Subsequent removal to Pakistan:

  25. She was asked about the subsequent removal to Pakistan of the children by the parents, in particular paragraph 5.39 of the report of Dr B at E27:
  26. "In regards to the removal of the children to Pakistan, the mother reported that she acted to go to Pakistan with the children due to her mother being seriously ill. The mother reported that she was unaware that the father was joining them on the flight to Pakistan, and, 'There was nothing that I could do once he was at the airport'. She added that neither B nor the Local Authority had informed her that the father had assaulted her, and therefore she had not realised the seriousness of the situation."
  27. The social worker maintained that the mother was aware. The social worker said that the mother was told about the allegations on the next day by CC, with the benefit of an interpreter. The risk was clearly identified by the written agreement that the parents signed. The children were collected for supervised contact with their father by professionals, and at no stage did the mother mention to the social workers that her mother was ill, and that she had asked the father to arrange a visit to Pakistan.
  28. The social worker said that she saw her on two occasions during collections for contact. The social worker did not accept that the mother's inability to speak English prevented the social workers from being informed about the proposed trip to Pakistan. In the past, the mother had used her name to ask questions or share information with the social worker. Furthermore, part of the arrangements were for Family First to visit the home twice per day, and they had attended on Friday the 17th. The family had left to go to Pakistan on the 18th.
  29. The social worker confirmed that on 20 July 2017 one of the children said to the social worker that the children were moved to Karachi in Pakistan in an attempt to avoid being found, because the Local Authority were coming to get them. The child said that this was what the parents had told her. The social worker was unable to be clear about which child said that.
  30. At C295 the social worker had written:
  31. "On 20 November 2017 A talked with me in more detail about this, and stated, 'I remember the night after you took us home from contact. I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of mum's bedroom. It was about 2 or 3 in the morning, and I woke up, and dad was there in the house. He was packing all of the suitcases. I asked him what was happening, and he told me we were going to Pakistan. I was really excited. Then I looked at all of the stuff, and said, "How long are we going for?" He said, "Like six weeks, or maybe until you are 18". He said, "Come on, I have come at this time so that the neighbours don't see and tell the social workers".'"
  32. The social worker rejected the parents' case that the father had just turned up at the airport, because that was inconsistent with what the children had said. What A had said to the social worker was unprompted. Furthermore, the social worker said the father confirmed when he returned to M on 1 April what he said in police interview: that as long as the Local Authority intended to remove the children, they would remain with the mother in Pakistan.
  33. He had said that to the social worker in the custody suite. There was no language barrier, and he showed no misunderstanding. His answer were very clear. She clarified a few times about his plans for the children. She stated that the father only needed help with difficult words and phrases. He had, for example, been willing to attend a domestic violence course, even if there was no interpreter.
  34. She referred to a text message sent by the father at C148 as an indication that he could understand. She had also seen him in prison on 4 April, and again there was no language barrier. Later, she said B had made her allegations against the father on 14 March 2017. On 18 March 2017 the family boarded a flight to Pakistan. The social worker said that she had seen the father on the Thursday and Friday before. The last time she had seen him was at 5.00 pm on the Friday. If the maternal grandmother was seriously ill, and that was known in the early hours of Friday by the mother, she did not know why the father did not tell her of the intention to go to Pakistan.
  35. The parents' case, that the mother first knew of the father going to Pakistan with them was when he turned up at the airport on Saturday morning, was contradicted by A. Mr Khan, on behalf of the father, informed the court that the father's case was that the tickets were booked after 5.00 pm on the telephone, and collected from an agent at 7.00 pm. He purchased return tickets.
  36. The social worker said that the following Monday the father telephoned the schools to indicate that they were in Pakistan for two weeks. He also rang social services to that effect. Subsequently, he spoke to CC, social worker, and said that they would only return the children to this country if it was "okay", meaning that the children would not be removed from their care. It was put to the social worker that whilst in Pakistan, the mother took ill with diabetes, and was unable to travel. The father came back on his own on 1 April 2017. The mother came back subsequently after the High Court made a collection order for the children. The children came back in the middle of May, and were taken into foster care in June 2017.
  37. A's attempted suicide:

  38. The social worker was then asked about A's attempted suicide. She said that she had been trying to stop unregulated, unsupervised text messaging by the father, as this had not been authorised. The social worker was aware of the emotional distress that the children were suffering after other forms of contact. She had been with the children on one occasion when a text message came in from the father. There was no surprise shown by the children, and the impression that the social worker formed was that this had happened before.
  39. The social worker said that A told her that the father had in turn told A to delete messages right away. She said sometimes the father would telephone her, and would be on for a few hours. That could be almost daily. The social worker described that this had a significant impact on the dynamics of the placement of the older children. Once removed into foster placement, A adopted a parenting role. The other children were in a new environment, and they were displaying behavioural change, and there was a pressure on A.
  40. Furthermore, there was reference in the foster carer records to D and A saying that the father was recording contact on his phone. the social worker confirmed that when she had examined the father's phone, he had recorded a probation session, and later admitted that he had. The social worker said that she was concerned about the father recording contact, as the children already felt under pressure.
  41. There was also an entry in the foster carer records for 18 November 2017 to D being very upset after contact. The children had mentioned that during contact, when the contact supervisor was discussing something with somebody else, the father would whisper to the children. This was very confusing for them, and was generating internal conflict. Furthermore, after the suicide attempt by A, the mother had tapped A's leg, and whispered to her, directing her to say that the suicide attempt was due to the foster carer rather than pressure from the father.
  42. The social worker said that there was clear evidence that the parents were trying to influence the children even after the suicide attempt. That demonstrated that they did not have insight into the children's emotional wellbeing. A was saying that the attempted suicide was due to pressure being put on her by the father. Furthermore, if what the children reported about the mother saying things to the children in contact, which led to the section 34(4) direction made by me in July this year, then the pressure from the parents continued to be there.
  43. Later in her evidence, she said in dealing with A's suicide attempt, that managing sibling behaviour, and the father pressurising her to do so, had led to that suicide attempt. The father told her to make sure that the children behaved, and did not speak to social workers about their experiences. B had told A that she had told the social worker everything, and A felt that she had let her parents down. A also said that the father was contacting her after the foster carers went to bed, after 11 o'clock at night.
  44. Applications for placement orders in respect of E and F:

  45. The social worker was asked why the Local Authority were pursuing placement orders in respect of the children E and F. She said that since the first date set for final evidence in December 2017, substantial time had passed, and attachment and ties to the foster carers had developed for the children. The Local Authority had questioned whether the plan for placement orders in respect of those two children were still right. The social worker said that she had considered this at length. She had had discussions with her own managers, the adoption team and the IRO, and the Children's Guardian.
  46. She said that in terms of the quality of care provided by the foster carers, this was, "Second to none". They had done a fantastic job, and positive attachments had been formed. She said that allowing F and E to remain with the foster carers would be the simplest of decisions, with the least disruption. However, longer-term, the foster carers had clearly stated that they would only continue if the children were subject to care orders, as that was their interpretation of their religion, and taking parental responsibility away from the parents.
  47. F was now 3, and therefore she would have statutory social work involvement for 16 and a half years in total. E would be 6 in December, and would have had social work involvement for the majority of his life. That would be invasive through statutory reviews, personal education plans, care planning meetings, and supervised contact. The social worker said that she could see the positives and negatives of each option, but on balance believed that the placement order should be made.
  48. If potential adopters were found, then it would be discussed and considered in the child review process. A search for a joint placement would take place over three months. If nothing was found, then the search would be broadened to look for two separate placements as well. If after six months, no suitable potential adopters were found, then consideration would be given to discharging the placement order.
  49. Later she said in terms of a placement for the younger two children, a joint search should be limited to three months, and then a joint and single search combined. Thereafter, if no potential adoptive placement had been found for either or both of the children, thought should be given to the application to discharge the placement order.
  50. The social worker said that whether there should be a placement order or not was finely balanced but that a placement order should be made. She also said that the current foster carers for E and F had been recommended as long-term foster carers. At that stage the agency decision-maker was yet to make a decision.
  51. In dealing with the issue of placement, she said that she was aware that the Children's Guardian had a very firm view in terms of that application. It was based in part upon the expert view of Dr P, and the following passage was put to the social worker on behalf of the Guardian: E436, Report of the Guardian:
  52. "F's foster carers observed considerable emotional distress and behaviour difficulties when she was placed with them. On one occasion F started crying to the extent the foster carer became scared. She was banging her head against the cot and pulling her hair. She could not be physically comforted, and temper tantrums sometimes lasted about two hours. F would often slap herself when she became angry or frustrated.
    "Pleasingly, F's behaviour and social presentation has improved, and it is likely that progress is attributable to the positive adult-child relationships, stability, safety and quality of care she has been afforded in the lengthy foster placement. [A reference to the addendum psychological assessment of the children, 11.2 to 11.4, 11.7, 11.12 to 11.16, and 13.50]. F does continue to exhibit attachment difficulties, most notably the attention-seeking behaviour characterised by what the foster carers describe as whining and moaning sounds. The behaviour can last all day sometimes.
    "[Reference made: Guardian's placement visit: 31 August 2018]. That said, the foster carers stated how much happiness it brings them to look after F, and they are fully committed to her future care if they are placed with them. [Reference: Guardian's placement visit: 31 August 2018]."
  53. In respect of E, E358 from the Report of Dr P was put:
  54. "E's foster carers state that there have been improvements in his behaviour. He now no longer hits his sister. He is less aggressive in the placement. However, they still have difficulties with his behaviour. The foster carer has noticed that his behaviour is most difficult after contact sessions, and can last for two days after the contact sessions. E has started in Reception class since my previous assessment. Staff said that when E first started in the class, he struggled, he was unfocussed and unsettled; he struggled with his concentration; he was impulsive. They have said that he was not deliberately naughty.
    "However, as the academic year has progressed, he has made improvements across all of these areas. I observed E at school, and no behaviour difficulties were noted. Staff who supervised the contact sessions stated that E's behaviour is always very difficult when he sees his father. This usually calms down as the contact progresses. He is angry, aggressive, and seems to be very unhappy."
  55. The social worker said that E was all or nothing in relation to primary attachment figure. Now, his current female foster carer: he is 100 per cent invested with her, but there have been improvements with his attachment with the male foster carer over time.
  56. E has been with his current carers for 16 months. The turning point for the social worker was when the foster carers said that they would only be long-term carers for the children under a care order. The social worker said that that would lead the children to be subject to statutory interventions for the rest of their minority. I think actually that should be 18 months, not 16, but I will check that at the end of this judgment.
  57. However, the foster carers, who are currently agency foster carers, have said that their commitment to the children is such that they would switch to be in-house W carers in the long term. The sort of exposure to statutory intervention involved personal education plans, meetings once per term; care planning meetings every six months; social work visits to the house every six weeks, but that could reduce to twelve weeks; child-in-care reviews, and being seen by the IRO every six months; yearly health assessments and foster carers having to check with the social worker on decision-making as they had no parental responsibility.
  58. The social worker recognised that E and F had been placed together, and had a strong relationship. They had a relationship with their siblings and also their parents. Separation from them could lead to profound issues for identity and culture. The foster carers said that they had taken advice from people in the community, their mosque Imam, and had reached the conclusion that they required care orders because of their religious beliefs.
  59. The social worker said that she had taken advice from T B, from the Family Findings team; and in a national search undertaken, only one family speaking Urdu had been identified. It was put to her that less than half of 3,000 Muslim children are put into faith-matched placements. The foster carers were clear that they did not want to consider a Special Guardianship Order, she said. The social worker agreed that it would be reasonable for the Local Authority to provide them with legal advice, and that was done.
  60. She agreed that they could be significantly damaged if E stayed in the current placement on his own, and F moved onto adoption. That would be likely to require specialist therapeutic intervention. The social worker agreed potentially she could have asked about all of that in communication with Dr P. However, she said Dr P said that the children had the ability to transfer attachment. She accepted that adoption was not without risk.
  61. In terms of the application for placement orders, she said that both A and B have said that they want to live with E and F. There is a good relationship between the children, although there is some competitiveness between the children, and the social worker said that she had not seen it before. She recognised Dr P had said that the younger two children should be kept together, and the Local Authority had taken that into account.
  62. She said that the older four children, however, were aware of the Local Authority's parallel planning from the beginning. The children were also aware of the Local Authority's case that contact should be reduced. A wanted to remain in foster care until she was 25 because she wants to become a doctor. B, C and D want to return to their parents' care. The children would want more contact than the Local Authority has proposed, she said.
  63. The older four children did not know the plan for placement orders and adoption for the younger two. They would not want that. The social worker accepted that there was no written analysis of the impact of adoption on the younger two or the older four in her written evidence; nor of the separation of siblings and parents by such an order. If placement orders were made, and the younger two children were adopted, if there was direct sibling contact thereafter, the parents would be likely to seek to use the older four children to undermine the adoption.
  64. Indirect contact for the older four children should be based around their needs. The recommendation was for four-times-per-annum contact for the younger two children with their parents if in long-term foster care, as there was currently no section 34(4) order in place in respect of them, and they were younger. They had not had periods of no contact.
  65. Forced marriage protection orders:

  66. In respect of the forced marriage protection orders, the older children had spoken about being taken to Pakistan and forced to marry, if they returned to their parents. A, for example, had said that she wants to become a doctor, but is worried about being taken to Pakistan, and being unable to achieve her goal. The social worker said that she welcomed the concession from the father that he would agree to forced marriage protection orders, and would welcome the same concession from the mother.
  67. The social worker was informed by Ms Howard, on behalf of the mother, that the mother consented to the making of a forced marriage protection order. She also accepted that a care order should be made in respect of the children. It was suggested that a package of support could be put in place so that the mother could care for the children, and all under the auspices of a care order.
  68. Passports:

  69. In terms of the parents' passports, she said that she would wish for the parents' passports to be retained by the Local Authority. This would give the children greater assurance, and would prevent the mother going over to Pakistan to bring G back into this country secretly.
  70. The social worker said that she had worked with maybe five to ten Urdu-speaking families before. She had worked with parents with learning difficulties more than ten times, although this was the first time she has had a combination of both. She had had access to the previous judgments at F46 and F191. Those were judgments of his Honour Judge Phillip Hughes of 28 February 2008 at F46; and 1 November 2006 at F191.
  71. H:

  72. The social worker said that she was aware that the mother's case was that H had made the older children watch sex videos rather than sexually abusing them. However, that was not what the children said. They had had to overcome the embarrassment of saying what they had said about sexual acts. The social worker said that she had received similar messages from the mother and father on the same day, both saying that they wanted to tell the police something, which the social worker suggested was more than just a coincidence.
  73. Physical chastisement:

  74. The social worker was aware of the parents' case that there was a general acceptance in Pakistan, in the mother's community, that physical chastisement to a degree is acceptable. "To a degree" meaning the use of slapping. In March 2015 B alleged that the father hit her with a wire which caused the Local Authority to investigate, but when she was spoken to, she said that the father threatened her with the wire, and she had no marks.
  75. It was put to the social worker by the mother's barrister that the mother's case is that it is also part of the culture to threaten violence. The social worker, however, drew a distinction between the threat to slap, and the threat to whip with a wire. In December 2016, A had reported that her father had hit her with a mobile phone charger, and had a small curved, red, raised line on her forearm. She did not want to talk to the police, however, but the case was discussed at an initial child protection conference. The case remained at Child In Need level.
  76. Families First completed four sessions with the parents between 23 January 2016 and 22 February 2017, during which discussions took place around appropriate disciplining of children without the use of physical chastisement. At a Child In Need meeting on 1 March 2017 the father was able to provide a comprehensive account of the work that had been completed which demonstrated that he had understood this. A had said that she was whipped because she had not vacuumed the kitchen when asked by her father.
  77. The social worker was asked about some inconsistencies in the accounts of the children. She maintained that her view was that the mother had been present when she was assaulted with a wooden spoon, suggesting that that was inconsistent with the mother's own statement that she was rarely allowed to leave the house, and only when she took the children to the park. It was also inconsistent with what the children had said.
  78. The social worker said that D had made allegations of being hit by the mother, on 14 December 2017, to a teacher. She specifically said that she was hit by the mother and the father. Furthermore, A had made allegations against the mother, to the foster carer's daughter, of physical assault. Nothing had prompted this. The social worker said that the children were aware of the consequences of what they were saying in terms of their ability to go home. She had no doubt at all that they loved their parents. Furthermore, one of the children had referred to the mother saying to her that she should not tell people that the mother hurt her. The social worker asked why the mother would say that if there was no context to it.
  79. In ABE interview, B said, H120
  80. Question, "What of these things has mum done?"
    Answer, "All of them".
    Question, "All of them?"
    Answer, "Yes".
    Question, "Okay".
    Answer, "I think mum's only done -- only did that about twice or something".
    Question, "The thing with the neck?"
    Answer, "Yeah".
    Question, "Yeah, okay".
    Answer, "But she does pick us up with our hair [and gestures]".
    Question, "Okay, so -- ".
    Answer, "She's done all of them, lots".
    Question, "Yeah?"
    Answer, "Except that one [points]. Like about twice or something".
    Question, "The stronger one about twice?"
    Answer, "Yeah, something like that".
  81. Then, at page 123:
  82. Question, "Describe to me what she did".
    Answer, "So, she pulled my hair up".
    Question, "Yeah?"
    Answer, "And she did the wooden spoon".
    Question, "Yeah?"
    Answer, "And she -- and she in -- ".
    Question, "Where did -- ".
    Answer, "She slaps".
    Question, "Mum?"
    Answer, "And she did that too [points]."
    Question, "Okay".
    Answer, "That's all. She didn't kick or punch".
    Question, "She didn't kick you?"
    Answer, "Or the wire".
    Question, "Or the wires?"
    Answer, "No".
    Question, "So, she -- ".
    Answer, "So, she didn't do that group there".
    Question, "She didn't do the wires, the punches or the kicks?"
    Answer, "Yeah".
    Question, "But she hit you with a wooden spoon?"
    Answer, "Yeah".
  83. I found the ABE interview of B at H94 to be compelling. The officer refused to lead into the evidence, and whilst few ABE interviews are perfect, this was of a reasonable standard. She showed suitable reticence about making the allegations at the start, and was clearly concerned that her father should see it. She also answered open questions in giving the evidence that she gave.
  84. There were small pointers to it being a truthful account: references to: "The wooden spoon broke"; "He put his foot on the back of B but not with all his strength"; "He would pick her up by her hair, and it would be like flying, but with her hair"; "I've had wire marks, like, straight lines, really red ones"; "Sometimes mum used to get us behind her back so he couldn't"; "She didn't kick or punch"; "Who hit you more?" Answer, "Dad"; "Mum bangs the hairbrush on our head if she's angry doing our hair"; "We went to Karachi when dad was in prison, and she hit me a lot over there"; "Dad thought we were going to go into foster care, that was their plan [referring to the Local Authority] so dad said, 'We will go to Pakistan, and we will be safe there';" reference to the mother hitting her with a rubber motorbike pipe and a belt.
  85. These are small details that are more consistent of genuine recollection than fabrication, in my judgment, particularly bearing in mind her age, and when I set it against my holistic evaluation of the evidence, I consider that there is a core consistency and truth to her allegations. I found it compelling evidence.
  86. The social worker said that there was a common theme, that B would speak first. At times the sisters would speak and say similar things. Whilst it was possible that B was enjoying being in foster care, in comparison to her daily experiences at home, these were extreme allegations that she was making against the mother. The bigger picture now was that A was making allegations of physical harm by the mother; B and D were making allegations too.
  87. References in the papers to the children telling lies to foster carers, were put to the social worker. The social worker said that she had discussed truth and lies with the children on numerous occasions. It was a concern that B and A were feeling the need to be untruthful, but that needed to be seen in context. The children have, if what they say is true, been told to hold back on a lot of things, and not tell the truth about them, and about their lives and experiences.
  88. Furthermore, it was now known that B's account of assault by the father was true as there was a conviction against him. Therefore, the lies reported in the foster carer records should be seen in context. The report on 9 July 2018 at L583 to B not making progress, and making false stories again, had to be seen in context too. This followed things being said to B by the mother in contact, according to the reports.
  89. The social worker noted that that day she was not herself during the social worker's visit; she was not making eye contact, and was looking down. The social worker said that B reported that nothing happened in contact. The social worker asked whether the foster carer was telling lies, whereupon B looked down and shook her head.
  90. It was no surprise that at L588, B was reported as saying that she had the biggest secret, which was that the mother used to beat her a well, because she had previously retracted that allegation to Dr P. The secret was that her retraction was false, as clearly she had referred to the mother beating her previously: H134 and 121.
  91. I agree with the social worker. Inconsistencies of accounts from the children must be seen against a backdrop of external pressure to conceal and change accounts from the parents, and the collectivist culture of the family. That, taken with the analysis of Dr P about how we get inconsistent accounts from children, give a context for consideration of the children's evidence, and B in particular, that does not permit a simplistic, "It is inconsistent, therefore it is unreliable". The picture is more complex than that.
  92. The social worker said that she wanted the children to be safe, and had no hidden agenda. It was no surprise that there were a number of references to the children's challenging behaviour. References were made to B smearing faeces on the bathroom towel; to siblings fighting and slapping and pinching; the children being untruthful; sucking an arm, causing bruising; and B showing attitude.
  93. The social worker said that B in particular was testing the foster carer, testing the boundaries imposed as she knew now that her parents' chastisement was not appropriate. She repeated that A had said on multiple occasions that she was worried about being taken to Pakistan.
  94. Later, it was put to the social worker that she had left the father with the expectation that if he made certain admissions, it might change the plan of the Local Authority. The social worker disputed that. She confirmed that in a meeting with his probation officer and the social worker on 19 December 2017, the father had made certain admissions which are recorded by the probation officer at C415. The father stated that he did regularly chastise and physically punish the children. Not every day, and not all the children. Mainly A and B. He said he would mainly smack them, either on the back of their heads or on their legs. He made it clear he very rarely smacked the younger children. He estimated it was two to three times per week.
  95. "When I asked how hard the smacks would be, he told me it was a medium smack, not a full force one", she said. However, he appreciated that a medium smack on a child is still very substantial. He then went on to state sometimes he would go after one of the children who would seek refuge with mum, and that mum would make him stop.
  96. RM then asked questions herself in relation to the disciplining of the children. This transcript had been supplied in full to myself, and I completely concur with the contents therein.
  97. The social worker said that their final evidence was already with the solicitor at the date of that meeting. The father's admissions were not a reason to change the plan in any event, but would have been a positive step in terms of his therapy. The psychologist was very clear about the amount of work that the father needed to do, and that it was outside of the timescales for the children and the court. His admissions were a positive as, until then, he was calling the children liars.
  98. Sexual activities:

  99. In dealing with the sexual allegations, the social worker said that the first mention of sexual allegations was on 9 February 2018 relating to a boy called "F". The father had taught the Koran to him before. The social worker rejected the suggestion that when B made allegations on 23 February 2018, she was doing so to avoid going home. In making the allegation, she had exposed herself to questioning by social workers, and police officers, that she had never met. Nothing had been said to her about going home.
  100. It was put to the social worker on behalf of the father that all the parents were told in respect of H was that there was a report that he had shown dirty videos to the children. The social worker said that when the police first attended, the parents did not remember anything in relation to H. However, they both then appeared to remember it, referring to the videos, on the same day as each of them sent a text message to the solicitor on the same day.
  101. She told the foster carer that A used to do sex with her, even in Pakistan. Once she gave money to a man, £10, and told him to take her away. He took her away to a far-off place, with lots of men who surrounded her. He put B on the grass, took off her clothes and his clothes, and had sex with her, putting his fingers in her. She cried, but he did not listen. In England and at dad's house, A forced B to have sex in her dad's bedroom whilst her parents were watching TV downstairs.
  102. In England at her dad's house, a boy called H from neighbour's once came to the house and forced B to kiss him by closing her eyes and getting H to suck her tongue. B cried a lot, and said her face was in A's hand being crushed. She said that she once saw A having sex with H. H unfastened a zip, and his parts were in A's private parts, and they were both standing, hugging and moaning.
  103. Once, they went swimming, in the changing rooms, and A again had sex with B. Also once swimming, A again put her fingers in her private parts, but she was too embarrassed to tell her mother. When the mother asked them what they were doing, A said that they were playing a game, and then the mother told them to stop playing the game. On medical examination, there was no physical injury to corroborate the account.
  104. The social worker was then asked about the inconsistencies during police questioning, between the accounts given by B and A. It is worthy of note, in my judgment, that when A was first questioned by the police, she was questioned as a suspect under police caution. It is right to record that A denied some of the allegations made by B; and in respect of allegations against H, there was some variation of the accounts.
  105. It was also put to her that in terms of informing the parents about H, different accounts had been given by B and A. A said that she told her mum, and her mum told her dad, and her dad hit her; then A said that B was the first one to tell the parents. She later told the police that B told her to go and tell her mum and dad, and she went and told her mum, and her mum told her dad, and then her dad hit her. Finally, she had said that she told her mum two, three or four days after B had told her to.
  106. B, on the other hand, told police that her parents did not know, although she later said that she was not sure if her mum and dad found out; and that they stopped going to each other's houses.
  107. However, the social worker said that A was assaulted after telling the mother and father, and so her recollection would be clearer. Furthermore, the children were being asked what had happened five years ago, and it would be difficult for them to remember the precise detail. The social worker said that the children were very embarrassed about the sexual allegations, and embarrassed to talk about them; and they were aware how they might affect how people perceive them, the suggestion being that it was not something that they would do lightly.
  108. The approximate time period when this was said to have taken place was when A was aged between 8 and 10; and B 6 and 8. In my judgment, these are just the sorts of inconsistencies that one would expect around true allegations made by children, with a core consistency. They should not have been disregarded by the parents on that basis.
  109. It was also put to the social worker that A had made allegations about D putting A's fingers in her vagina, which happened in the foster carer's, if the account was accurate. There was no reference to the foster carer being aware that this was happening, and therefore it was asked by the parents how they could be criticised for being ignorant.
  110. Pressure from the parents on the children:

  111. The social worker said that whilst the only sighting of the mother and father together was on 4 December 2017, the most recent allegations made by the children against the mother, which the Local Authority relied on in support of their section 34(4) application, was that the mother had told the children to retract the allegations, and to say that the father had not whipped them, and only slapped them. The social worker asked why the mother should try to persuade the children to say the father had not whipped them.
  112. She said that she did not know if a relationship was ongoing at present, but would be concerned about it in the future. The social worker said that the report of Dr P was crucial. The children loved their mother, and she was aware of the cards that had been sent as she, the social worker, had provided them. However, for the children to love the mother does not suggest that they are not being truthful about their daily lived-in experiences.
  113. There was a record of a strategy meeting from 20 July 2017 where it was reported that B had said that her father was saying things to her during contact, and the supervisors did not realise. Furthermore, the father was speaking to A on the phone, and she was scared about that. Following the incident when A had jumped from the bed with a scarf tied around a lightbulb and her neck, but the light fitting had given way, A told a staff nurse that the reason that she attempted to take her life was because she felt pressured by her father, who was telling her what she should be telling the other children to do; and added that her father had said that she must not talk to the social worker, or else he will get sent back to prison.
  114. A had also disclosed to the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service that when she was at home with her parents, she was regularly beaten; and on some occasions with a phone charger by her father. A said that her mother was fully aware of those incidents, but said that beating children is culturally acceptable. A informed the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services worker that her dad had been ringing her for up to three hours each night, when everyone else was in bed, asleep, telling her that she must not speak to the social worker.
  115. A had also reported that there had been two occasions during contact when her mum tried to say things to her. A said that on the Thursday, when she was discharged from hospital, her mum spoke to her in Urdu, telling her that she should not trust the foster carer. A had also said that her mum had told her to write, in the card for her father, that she had tried to kill herself as the foster carer had locked her in her room. Dr P reported that since July 2017, A did not have any suicidal ideation.
  116. In oral evidence, the social worker was referred to C264 in the bundle, a statement of VJ, social worker, dated 17 October 2017:
  117. "Contact between the eldest four children and their parents was suspended by the Local Authority because it came to light that A had been having some communication with her father through her phone, outside of the agreed contact arrangements. A's phone was taken from her on 10 July 2017 in the attempt to remove this responsibility and pressure from her.
    "On 11 July 2017 at approximately 9.30 pm, A tied a scarf to a light fitting and her neck, and jumped from the bed in an attempt to hang herself. A said that this was because she felt that she had failed her parents, and was not able to manage the siblings' behaviour in the way that her father had been telling her to. It became increasingly apparent that A, B, C and D were being influenced by their parents in a covert manner, in spite of there being members of staff present."
  118. At C265:
  119. "On 3 October, the father was observed to show A her phone, which he had recently received back from the social worker, following examination of the phone, as agreed with in court. He then said to A, 'Speak to R (social worker) if you want it back', and this upset A, and she started to cry. It is unclear what the father's intentions were in this action, as it is generally understood by all who know A that her phone is important to her, and she has been fixated with having her phone returned to her following this being taken, after the father was found to be contacting her through WhatsApp.
    "Following contact, A started to retract her allegations that she had been hit by her father. The foster carer's husband, in collecting the children from the session that night, reported that he overheard the father as he was leaving, stating, 'Tell everybody', in Urdu. That night, A's foster carer reported that A said to her that her father had told her to tell the contact workers that she had made it up. When the foster carer asked her to clarify what she meant, she stated that, 'Dad never hit us' in contradiction to her original disclosures."
  120. At C514, the social worker wrote:
  121. "On 10 July 2018, when speaking with A, she asked how B is. I let A know that I had been with B the previous night, and I was worried about how contact was going for B. A asked me what I meant by this, before asking me if it was to do with their mother, asking had B said something about their mother. When I told her that B's foster carers had let me know that their mother may have said something in contact, A said, 'She has said things to me too'. I asked A what had been said, and she shared the same information as B, without having any knowledge of what B had said.
    "A has separate contact to B, is in a separate placement to B, and the only time that they have had contact with each other was on 2 July 2018, in a sibling contact, and I supervised with one of the other contact workers. I had no indication during this sibling contact that there had been any discussion between A and B of their mother speaking with each of them.
    "A went on to expand upon her comments, informing me that her mother had said these things to her during a contact session with the same interpreter as 4 July 2018 contact for B, C and D. It is believed that A is therefore referring to the contact with her mother on 29 June 2018. A stated that when the mother made these comments to her, she said within her language, 'Oh my gosh, mum, have you not learned your lesson?', showing a considerable level of impact upon A, and insight from A about the potential consequences of the mother making these comments."
  122. The social worker said that on 9 July 2018, the foster carers for B informed the Local Authority that they had been worried about a change in B's behaviour, and stated that it appeared that something was bothering her. The foster carers described how she was behaving in ways that she had when she was first placed with them in October 2017. She was not listening, becoming defensive, and exhibiting a confidence to challenge the boundaries in a way that she had stopped doing for a number of months.
  123. The foster carers shared that B had informed her female foster carer that the mother was saying things to her in contact. This was despite providing an undertaking to the court that she would not discuss anything with the children about the care proceedings. On a visit to A by the social worker, A asked how B was. The social worker said that A was told that the social worker had been with B the previous night, and was worried about how contact was going for B. A asked what she meant by this, before asking if it was something to do with the mother. When she was told that B's foster carers had let her know that their mother may have said something in contact to B, A said that she had said things to her too.
  124. The social worker asked A what had been said, and she shared the same information as B without having any knowledge of what she had said. A record of contact from 4 July 2018 said that the mother had said something quietly to C during that contact. When asked, the interpreter said that she had not heard what was said.
  125. In my judgment, it is of significance that these comments appear to have been made following the court hearing on 26 June 2018, when there were discussions about a potential Re W application being made, and the parents potentially calling A and B to give evidence at the final hearing. It is utterly compelling evidence, in my judgment, that the mother was seeking to influence the evidence that the girls were giving about what the father had done. That despite the formal undertaking that she had given to the court shortly before.
  126. I am satisfied, having heard all the evidence, and taken a holistic view, that these parents have been seeking to influence in a clandestine way how the children behaved, and what they said during contact, right up to June or July this year.
  127. Contact:

  128. The social worker said that there had been no real suggestion, with the father's contact in recent times, that he had spoken to them to convey clandestine messages. However, during contact with the father, A spent a lot of time facing away from him, looking at the contact staff. The father had demonstrated commitment to attending contact, and was asking to see more of them. If the children were not placed with the mother under a care order, then the social worker said that contact should take place three times per annum. That was to enable the children to achieve stability in their placement, and undergo the therapy recommended by Dr P. The level of contact had also been set against the backdrop of issues that had occurred in contact to date. The contact should be gradually reduced through to December, to begin three times per annum regime next year.
  129. Passports:

  130. She said that the passports of the parents should be held by the Local Authority. That would reassure the children that they will not be taken to Pakistan. She said that over the times that she had been involved with the case, she had got to know the children well. On 8 September 2017, B moved out of the foster care placement with the other siblings into a placement on her own. The foster carer was finding it more and more difficult to cope with four children, and B's needs were not being met. A, C and D remained in placement. B had an ABE interview on 6 August 2017, and from that point, the sibling relationship became increasingly strained as she spoke of her experiences, and others had not.
  131. On behalf of the Guardian, Mr Povoas's analysis was that as all parties conceded that threshold was met in this case, that left the issue of welfare. As the father said, he could not care for the children, then the case was about the efficacy of the mother as a carer; if not, then whether placement orders should be made in respect of the younger two children. Reference was made to the report of Dr B at E43, paragraph 6.44:
  132. "However, there are barriers that may reduce her capability. These include: her mistrust of the Local Authority and those outside of her community; her loyalty to her husband; her anger towards the Local Authority regarding their mistreatment of her by removing her children to foster care; the view that she has done nothing wrong, and therefore may not see the need to change; her view that she does not need to cope alone, and that she can share responsibility for looking after the children with extended family and friends from the community. Therefore, as outlined in paragraph 6.37, provisional work would be required with the mother in order to encourage her full compliance, and avoid the previously described 'disguised compliance'."
  133. The social worker agreed that the work that Dr I had done with the mother does not focus on insight. A lot of the work done was around her general psychological issues; situational anxiety; having the children removed; and the impact of these proceedings. The mistrust of the Local Authority and those outside of the community: outwardly the mother had attended appointments and answered questions, but the mistrust was still there. The loyalty to the husband caused the social worker greater concern, and the recent application for a section 34(4) order: the social worker was shocked to hear that the mother was allegedly saying those things to protect the father.
  134. It was an ongoing worry. Whilst the separation from the father and the application for a non-molestation injunction were big steps that the mother had taken, there were a few inaccuracies in her evidence in making the application for a non-molestation injunction, for example, that she was not aware of the police interview into the assault on B. That impacts on the ability of the Local Authority to trust what the mother says.
  135. In removing the children into foster care, the mother still had some anger, but conducted herself well in how she communicated that. In terms of the mother's view that she had done nothing wrong, and had no need to change, whilst the mother had made some admissions that she could have done things differently, her recent comments in contact were: she saying again that she had done nothing wrong, and had referred to the children as liars.
  136. She was referred to Dr B at E45: "Furthermore, she reported that she did not feel that she personally needed to change anything per se, rather her husband need to change his behaviour". Whilst the mother was saying that she did not need to cope alone, and could rely upon extended family, the social worker said that she did not think a collectivist approach to parenting served the children's needs. Furthermore, the needs of these children could not be met by one adult parent alone.
  137. The mother had been referred to IDVA and also other services, and she accepted the referrals, but had not sought support. She did not feel that she needed their services when they contacted her. Therefore, the early warning signs, that those services would support her with a dominant domestic violence partner, she did not now have.
  138. There were positives in that since September she had begun to learn English; undergone therapy; and taken out a non-molestation injunction. She was gaining confidence as an individual and as a parent. However, she was nowhere near enough being able to provide good enough care. The social worker said that she agreed with the opinion of Dr P at D382, at paragraphs 13.70 to 13.72:
  139. "Although I have not been asked to specifically address this issue during the course of my assessment, the mother and father demonstrated some understanding that A and B will need therapy. However, their psychological understanding of A and B was very limited, despite the fact that they have had access to my previous report. They demonstrated a very superficial understanding of the impact of their children's early histories have, and will continue to have, on their psychological wellbeing.
    "In relation to the younger children, both the mother and father demonstrated no insight that the children may struggle with their long-term psychological wellbeing as a result of their experiences in their parents' care. Overall, the mother and father demonstrated very little insight into the level of parenting that would be needed to meet the children's needs individually, and as a sibling group."
  140. In my judgment, and having had opportunity to assess the mother for myself, and to consider the evidence as a whole, I consider this to be compelling evidence. The social worker said that she felt that there was no way back for the mother from the assessments of Dr P, and the deficits identified by Miss I.
  141. C A:

  142. I heard from C A, who did work with the family on behalf of Families First. He made notes at F218 to 220. He came to the understanding that the father would not need an interpreter to work with him. He came across as somebody who understood English. He had been residing in the UK for some time. The children spoke very good English. The father is a taxi driver, and so was able to speak English with his clients. He never indicated that he did not understand.
  143. The mother came across as someone with little knowledge of English, and the father interpreted for her. She did not raise any misunderstanding with that process.
  144. In terms of the advice given, he said that he had told them that in Third World countries, physical chastisement, and even the use of objects, was accepted, but in this country it is not. So, for example, in his country, Nigeria, there was use of the cane and objects to discipline physically. He said whilst in this country you can spank a young child, you must not leave a mark. However, in the long run, it is safer not to spank any child. He gave them alternatives to physical chastisement, for example, a reward system; and to make them understand why they should not make the choices that they do.
  145. He said that the mother and father did not deny physical chastisement. He said that he explained to them in simple language, and the mother appeared to have no difficulty with understanding. Indeed, she was able to explain that she felt that A had anger issues. He told her that being a woman, she would be in a better place to understand her daughter's issues. He got the impression that A's anger was frustrating the mother, and the mother told him that in English. She gave the impression that she understood what he was saying, and where she seemed confused, then the husband would interpret.
  146. S B:

  147. I also heard from S B from Families First. She was the social work therapeutic social worker. She prepared a document at C405. She left the employer W in May 2018. She said her role was different to that of the regular social worker. She did no assessment. She simply provided therapeutic intervention. She would spend more time with the family than a normal social worker. She met the mother at a child planning meeting, and child in care review. She needed to support the children around their emotional needs in a safe place. She was informed that they had experienced cumulative harm, emotional and physical abuse. She was told that A had made an attempt to take her own life, and she was working with CC until RM took the lead role. She would see them in school or at home or in foster care, based upon what the children wanted.
  148. She confirmed the recording at C558:
  149. "A told therapeutic social worker that the father, 'Used to say he would kill me, cut me into pieces, and put me in the bin. He said it in our language'. She went on to say, 'Sometimes my mum got hurt. She would stand in the way in front of me. He didn't mean to hit my mum, but she would get hit because she stood in the way because she tried to protect me'."
  150. I found that compelling evidence. She said that most of the things that the children spoke about, they had already told RM, the social worker. If they said something about home life, she would check with RM, and RM would confirm that she was already aware of it. She said that she had a sense that A was telling her the truth on 7 March 2018. It was not just what she said but how she said it. She would display fear. She pulled her arms in, and her lips also. She said that when the children were speaking to her, she would not lead them into saying anything. She confirmed that she is ABE trained. In my judgment, it is likely that A was telling the truth.
  151. T B:

  152. I heard from T B from the Family Findings team. She had recommended the search plan for E and F. She was not involved in the welfare assessment process at all. She had read the child's permanence reports. She recognised that older children are harder to place, but there are adopters available, who do adopt older children. She had not dealt with any ethnic children before. She said it was difficult to evaluate the prospects of success of a search without a placement order. She can only look at the matter generally and generically.
  153. She had also spoken to the Local Authority Family Findings team in Bradford about placements. Her own limited database search thus far had revealed one family as potential adopters. She said Bradford has some Muslim adopters, and they tend to be more liberal in their approach, and their assessment of what their religious beliefs allow them to do. She said that the duty worker at Bradford had said that there were quite a few potential Muslim adopters on the list, but she did not know how many. She recognised that a search would be potluck with limited availability of potential adopters. However, she had not begun to exhaust the search engine yet.
  154. P F:

  155. I heard from father's probation officer P F, who confirmed three letters, and in particular C271 and C415. The probation officer confirmed that for the assault on B, the father was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and was given a suspended sentence of imprisonment, together with 150 hours of unpaid work, and a rehabilitation activity days requirement.
  156. He said before the father's admissions on 19 December 2017, apart from the one incident with B, he had said he had never touched the children. That continued right up to the meeting on 19 December. His admissions on 19 December represented a sea change in his approach, which caused concern for the probation officer, who felt that the work done up to that time had been wasted as a result. He had been seen once a week since April 2017. There was no interpreter at any meeting. He never indicated that he needed one. They had in-depth conversation, and he described the father as very articulate, with a good command of English.
  157. He confirmed the notes at 84 to 86 describing the father, "Is not a very honest person". When he described how A had attempted to kill herself, he had an immediate apparent distinct lack of emotion, and it was the only time he spoke about A. The probation officer received information from the social worker that the father was attending appointments, and recording their meetings. He asked the father if there was anything that he was not telling him, and he said, "Nothing at all". He asked him whether he had ever recorded the sessions, and the father said, "No", and added that he did not think that his phone could do that.
  158. The father was advised that the phone had been taken from him to be checked, and there was evidence that he had been recording the meetings. At that point, the father completely changed his tack, and became very defensive. He was advised that the probation officer was aware that he had recorded the conversations without permission.
  159. This, in my judgment, is but one example of the father's dishonesty. He was asked how often he spoke to A. He replied that she would ring him. He would not ring her. He would usually speak to the children for about five minutes. He said that if they rang him, and he was not around, he would ring them back. He was asked, what did he talk about with the children, and he said that A said she missed him, and that he misses her too. The father said that the reason that A had attempted to take her own life was because she had been naughty, and was locked in a room by her foster carer. Also, Children's Services had been putting pressure on her.
  160. The father was given another meeting, and the father apologised for lying about recording the conversations. He confirmed that he felt that the father was not a very honest person. In my judgment, having heard all the evidence, that is an understatement.
  161. There had always been a conflict between the accounts given by the father to him, and given to social services. When questioned by him, he still failed to release details he had given to social services. He had come to see the probation officer when the final plan of separation was known. He was very upset. The probation officer told him that the family court would make the decision. The probation officer said he would never suggest to the father that the Local Authority may change their plan if he made admissions. He would never discuss it.
  162. The witness said that he told him that anything he said to the probation officer about the children would be shared. He said that he did not hear the social worker say on 19 December that if he made admissions, they might change their long-term care plan. He did not believe for one minute that the father was ever given any false hope of that.
  163. Having changed his story in December, and realising it would make no difference, the father then reverted to his original story. The probation officer agreed with the assessment of the senior case manager, S P, at C475:
  164. "The father is very forthright in recognising that the primary emotion he can recognise, prior to the use of physical chastisement, was anger, something that he says he regrets. However, whilst he seeks to assure that he has changed, he is not able to describe improved strategies for improved emotional self-regulation, and does not regularly identify current examples of occasions when he has dealt with anger, even in a non-domestic setting, in a pro-social appropriate way.
    "The father tells me that he has engaged with psychological intervention through which he has learnt that there are multiple reasons why children may misbehave, something which he previously interpreted as deliberate naughtiness. Whilst it is commendable that the father has developed his understanding of children's behaviour, it is of concern to me that his focus has been on their behaviour, and not upon his own inappropriate responses, and developing strategies to better manage his own behaviour.
    "Furthermore, the father talks about his acute feelings of regret, and how at night when he prays, he cries due to his actions. However, there appears from his presentation to be a disconnect between his words and his emotions. It is accepted that this is a perception, but in my assessment his words do not appear to reflect a deep-seated regret or sincerity."
  165. That is entirely consistent with my own assessment of the father.
  166. J F:

  167. I heard from J F, who is a Special Educational Needs Coordinator from X school . She confirmed her report at C38. In it she said that the father rang the school at 8.15 am on 20 March 2017, saying that the whole family had travelled to Pakistan to stay with his wife's mother, who was very ill. He said they had travelled from the Airport on Saturday, 11.00 am. He gave the mobile number he was calling from, but would not give an address in Pakistan. He said that he would plan to return on 1 April, and that the whole family would return if things were "okay" for them in the UK.
  168. He said that he had been treated like a criminal, like a murderer, and if things were not okay in the UK, then the children would not be returning. Only he would return. He said that he was afraid that the children would be removed from his wife's care, and that was the reason that they had gone to Pakistan. She said that she asked him many times to leave an address, as this would be in the whole family's best interests, but he would not do this. She told him that this was potentially a criminal issue, but he refused to leave any details. He was advised to ring CC, the social worker. The children returned to school on 12 June. I find this to be an entirely accurate account of the conversation.
  169. CC:

  170. I heard from CC, the social worker, who co-worked the case with RM until the end of July 2017. She referred to the statement that she gave to police at H8:
  171. "On Wednesday, 15 March, we received information from the headteacher at B's school that B informed the teacher that she was scared of being whipped with a wire, and hit with a wooden spoon. The social worker attended the school, and spoke to B, and she said that she had been hit with a wooden spoon by her father. The spoon had snapped upon impact, and then he struck her on the back. B then stated that she had a bruise, but initially said that she did not want to show her. She pointed to the top left-hand side of her left thigh, and said there was a bruise there.
    "The social worker then spoke to the father, who had arrived at school to collect the children, and he was told there was an allegation made by B, which may require a child protection medical examination. He immediately interjected and said that she had fallen off her bike, and that A had pinched B on her hip, and had fallen over her brother.
    "After the father had left, B came back, and pulled down her school trousers, showing a bruise to the top of her left leg, which she confirmed was caused by the wooden spoon. She then rolled up the right leg of her trousers, and pointed to smaller bruises on the right leg, stating that they had been caused when she was hit with a wire, a phone charger. She was subject to a child protection medical, and told the doctor how she sustained her injuries. The initial report concluded that the injury to the thigh was consistent with the child's report, and that the injury was non-accidental."
  172. The social worker said that she attended the house the next day with a working agreement, C14. The father allegedly hitting B was discussed by the police officer with the mother on 15 March. A telephone interpreter service was used. The police officer conveyed that B had been assaulted, and that it was serious. The mother said that she understood the agreement, and it was explained to her by the Urdu interpreter on the telephone. The social worker confirmed the note at C14:
  173. "The mother and father signed a written agreement which clearly stated that the Local Authority were requesting that father was to reside outside of the family home for three weeks whilst a section 47 investigation was completed; and the children should only have contact with their father that was supervised by the Local Authority. The seriousness of the risks identified for the children was clearly explained to both parents. A joint visit took place between the social worker and the police to see the mother, and the telephone interpreter was used.
    "Two meetings took place with the father, and with two social workers, in which he was clearly advised about the Local Authority's expectations upon him, and that the Local Authority would seek legal advice should it not be possible to evidence that the children were safe. Neither parent was happy with the arrangement, however willingly agreed to the expectations placed upon them."
  174. In evidence, she said that when speaking to the mother, a telephone interpreter was used, because there was no face-to-face interpreter available. The written agreement is set out at F221. The social worker said that she spoke to the interpreter first, and asked them to speak really slowly, just translating the document in small chunks. She thought the interpreter was very good, very receptive to it being stressful for the mother. She went through the document paragraph by paragraph. She was clearly advised not to use physical chastisement.
  175. The social worker confirmed that the injury was explained to the mother, that it was considered to be non-accidental, and caused by the father, so that the agreement was to safeguard the children, making sure that the father was not at home. She said that the mother mentioned B falling off her bike. She said that there had been a child in need meeting on 1 March 2017 when the father gave a comprehensive account of the work done with him by Families First over four or five visits:
  176. The father said he had found the work useful. He paraphrased the work that physical chastisement was wrong. It was not the way that he and the mother would discipline the children. He spoke positively about the work with Families First, which he found beneficial. He did not ask for an interpreter; he did not say that he could not understand C from Families First.
  177. The social worker said that she was contacted by the father on 27 March from Pakistan, when he said that the children would return to the UK only if everything would be okay for them, otherwise they would stay in Pakistan with the mother. The social worker confirmed her statement to the police at H35 and 36 that the Local Authority recognised that the mother was likely to require additional support, with the father out of the home; and a package of support was identified at an early stage. In spite of that, on 20 March, the father contacted both schools, and the Local Authority, to say that they had gone to Pakistan on 18 March.
  178. L D:

  179. I heard from L D, contact supervisor, who confirmed the contact notes. She said that they had quickly established that there was a need for an interpreter to stay with the parents and children at all times. They would ask the interpreters at the end of the day if they thought there was anything that needed to be included in the contact notes. There was a need for two contact workers to monitor the situation, and at the end of contact, the contact supervisors would prepare a joint note of what had happened. That would then provide the basis for feedback at the next session for the parents. The mother was given advice, which she appeared able to take on board, and understand, and implement. She confirmed the notes at F105 and 106. This is a note of contact on 4 July 2018, which states:
  180. "C sat next to mother to read the book, with B lying on the floor next to the mother, looking at a book on playing with ponies. The mother said something very quietly to C. C did not make any comment, but looked directly at me. I asked the interpreter what had been said, and she shook her head, saying that she had not heard. B looked up from the book in front of her, and asked HG, 'What?' before smiling, and turning her face back to the book. The mother did not look up, and had been unsmiling as she spoke. I asked her what had been said, but the mother said the children did not answer."
  181. The social worker said that where the note refers to "I", that was actually her co-worker, HG. The supervisor agreed that there was a need for close supervision to hear what was being said by the parents to the children. They had to make sure that the interpreter was near the mother during the mother's contact as she would use a lot of Urdu in speaking to the children. She was aware that contact had been stopped in the past as a result of things being said by the parents, and A had said that her mother was tapping her leg, and that the mother was communicating a message to her that made her feel uncomfortable.
  182. The supervisor said that they were looking therefore for messages being given to the children. She said that she knew there was a reason to be hypervigilant during contact. She said that she was aware that it was being alleged that things had been said by the mother during contact in the summer. She agreed that on occasions the children had been allowed to play hide and seek in the garden with the mother, and the foster carer records, noted at C530, were put to her:
  183. "Contact 27 June 2018: B had contact, but was quiet when she got home, complaining that she does not get on well with her sisters. B said her mum told her to tell social workers that dad never whipped her with wire, but used to slap her, and mum tried to stop him. B said that this is a big secret. B said, 'If you tell Becky, she will cancel contact'.
    "Contact 4 July 2018: B said that mum had told her to behave badly and cause a disturbance in the house so that she can be moved from her, and be sent to mum's house."
  184. The contact supervisor said that there were opportunities for the mother to say those things, as both contacts involved games of hide and seek. She said that the contact on 4 July 2018 was recorded because they were uncomfortable about what had been said by the mother, although that was more for HG to deal with, as she was on the spot.
  185. HG:

  186. I heard from HG who confirmed the notes at F106. It was put to her that what the mother was talking about was a picture of a male and female cartoon character kissing, and that the mother had said that that was a father and daughter kissing, as she was suggesting that C was shocked at seeing what his culture does not allow. She said that the mother spoke very quietly in Urdu, and very quickly.
  187. When the contact supervisor asked the interpreter, she did not know. When she asked some of the girls what was said, nobody would tell her. Where the record refers to "I", she confirmed that that should be her, and not the other contact supervisor. Whilst she had asked what was said and nobody answered, she discussed it with her manager, and was told if it happened again, she was to stop contact. She was concerned because the girls looked uncomfortable, and the contact supervisor felt uncomfortable as well.
  188. A R:

  189. I then heard from A R, who is an interpreter. She had assisted with contact for the children and the parents. She confirmed her email reply at C524, that she noted nothing untoward during the contact of 27 June 2018. She also confirmed that during hide and seek games, there was a possibility that comments had been made to the children by the mother out of her hearing.
  190. The mother:

  191. I heard from the mother who confirmed her statements at C73, C129, C158, C361, C417, C479, C589, save in two respects. At C75, paragraph 6, she had said that she had never seen her husband hit B or any of the children. She said that that was not true. She was referred to paragraph 3 of her statement at C361:
  192. "I understand that the father has now made certain admissions in relation to hurting the children, as contained within the Local Authority's final statement. I have not spoken to the father directly about this, nor at the time of writing have I seen a final statement from him. I accept what the father has now said, as detailed in the Local Authority's final statement, and can only apologise for not being open and honest with the Local Authority or the court during these proceedings.
    "I confirm that I was aware that the father had hit the children in the past, by way of slaps to the bottom and the back of their heads, but not to the extent that the father has indicated to the Local Authority."
  193. She said that that statement is true. She described having six sisters and two brothers. Her father died ten years ago, and her mother is still alive in Pakistan. All her siblings live in Pakistan. In dealing with her marriage, she said that the early years of marriage were good, but when she came over to the UK in 2004, he started to be strict with her. He did not allow her to read English, nor to go out with friends or anywhere. She said that B was born in Pakistan in April 2007, and did not return to this country until 2010. She and the father saw her twice in 2008 and 2009. She said that that did not affect their relationship with B.
  194. She described A as a lovely girl who sometimes gets angry. She described B as a good girl, and C as a lovely girl. D, she said, was a lovely girl who was very special because of her kidney problems. "E likes going to nursery, he likes to play". F was small; and G, when she talks to him, appears quite happy. She has not spent much time with him.
  195. Physical chastisement:

  196. She said that when the children were naughty, she would tell that mummy was not happy with them, and would take their electronic tablets away from them. When the children were naughty, the father would slap them. He would get angry. He had been doing that for two or three years. It began in 2015, 2016. When he started to slap B and A, their mother did not like it, and would try to save the children. She would put the children behind her. She would ask him to stop. He would try to push her away, and slap the child over and behind her.
  197. He would say that he was allowed to slap them. He would slap them at the top of the neck, and the back of the legs. When they were slapped, they were worried, and would cry. He would shove the mother away in order to slap them. When he hit them, the mother would say, 'You cannot hit them', and he would say, 'No, I am allowed to'. The mother thought that maybe he was allowed to do that, she said. This happened three to four times per month. She said that she never saw the father use an object, other than a hand, to hit the children.
  198. In my judgment, she was lying. She said he had hit E, C and D, but rarely. She said that she had never hit any of the children, as they would listen to her when she spoke to them. She was lying. She said that she knew in 2015 that B had told the teacher that she was fearful of being hit with a wire, but she said she had no knowledge of it. She said that she had never made any such threat to B. It was in the father's nature to pretend to slap, but not hit them. She had never heard the father threaten to hit them with a wire.
  199. It was put to her that A alleged in December 2016 that the father had hit her with a mobile phone charger. The mother said that the father had not hit with the charger. When it happened, she was there. A was distorting photos on her mobile phone, and the girls were screaming, and the father said, "Don't upset your sisters", and he got up to get the phone off her. A wound the wire around her arm, and her father pulled the wire, and said, "Take it off", and the mother said maybe during this, A has been scratched by his nail. She said that A subsequently told the social worker that she had lied, and wound the cable around her arm.
  200. In my judgment, her account of the incident is inherently implausible. I do not accept that A wound the cable around her arm, and he pulled it off, and that she was scratched by his nail. It is much more likely the injury was caused by hitting her with it. She is colluding with the father on this issue.
  201. She was asked about Mr A from Families First. She said she did remember a man who would come, but did not remember what for. She had no knowledge of what he was doing. She did not speak to him. As far as she could recall, he used the word "anger", and the mother had pointed to A, and said, "Anger, anger". After that, she did not know. I did not believe her on this. She was not telling me the truth. I prefer the evidence of Mr A. It is likely that she did know, and was able to understand with the father's help.
  202. She acknowledged that in March 2017, the family had become involved with the Local Authority when B had bruising on her legs. On what caused it, she said that she had gone out with F, and when she returned after quite some time, the father took B out, and returned after a considerable time. She had sweets and crisps, and she was quite happy, and went upstairs.
  203. When asked how the bruising was caused, she said that she was told later by the father that he hit B with a spoon, a toy spoon. When she was told this, she became very angry, and had an argument with him, and said that she would not be with him, and went to live with her mother. He had told her of this when they were in Pakistan. After this, they separated.
  204. It was put to her that B had suggested that in Pakistan, the mother beat her with her hands and a pipe. The mother said, "I was ill myself. How could I possibly hit her?" That was a poor answer, in my judgment, and in hiding behind illness, she demonstrated that she was not comfortable in just giving a straight denial, knowing that it was untruthful. She denied beating her for getting a scarf dirty. She said, "The children get clothes dirty. What is the point of hitting them?" That again was a poor answer, demonstrating that she was not comfortable with a straight denial, knowing it would be untruthful.
  205. She denied D's allegations that she put chillies into her mouth as a punishment. She said that D would complain, "Mamma, chillies, chillies". She said at home they cooked curry, and D probably gets some clove in her mouth, and the mother will say, "Only the naughty child feels the chilly more". She had never however put it into her mouth deliberately. I consider the mother's account inherently implausible, and frankly a little bizarre. It is much more likely that she used that as a punishment technique. That is consistent with the reporting of D.
  206. She was asked if her case was right -- and she wanted all the children back -- how she would stop the children making up false allegations against her. The mother said that she would speak to professionals; she would get the children assessed; and for them to have therapy to help stop them making false allegations against her. She would also speak to them and tell them not to make false allegations.
  207. The mother maintained that she had not done anything. In describing physical abuse by the mother, she said A was not telling the truth. B also was not being honest in describing physical abuse by the mother. Only to RM had the children said that the mother hit C.
  208. In my judgment, in dealing with the questioning by Mr Crabtree, as well as the mother saying that the children's accounts were dishonest when they said that she had physically abused them, she was evasive, and she was struggling to actually express a view that the children were being dishonest or telling lies. She was not comfortable in maintaining that case. Eventually, she did maintain that C was not telling the truth in saying that she had seen the mother and father being physically abusive to A and B; and eventually said that D was not telling the truth in maintaining the same.
  209. The mother said that she does not lie. Her previous statement when she said that she had not seen the father hit the children was put to her, and she accepted that she had lied when she said that. It was also put to her that she had described the father to the social worker and Dr B as a good man, a loving father and husband. She said, "He is not a good man". She was asked why at E18, paragraph 5.6, she had told Dr B that he was a good man who was never violent to her or the children.
  210. She said that there was a good relationship in Pakistan. It only got worse when they moved here. She accepted that she was giving a wholly different picture of the relationship with the father, and his relationship with the children. Her statement in support of an application for a non-molestation injunction was put to her:
  211. "Things started to change four years into our relationship when I left my family in Pakistan, and moved to the UK with him. Straightaway, he became controlling. He refused for me to have any friends, and he refused to let me out of the house unless he went with me. He refused to allow me to learn English or take driving lessons. He made me feel isolated, upset, lonely and depressed. This was clear emotional abuse. I was only allowed to go to the park for one hour with the children. Any food shopping or clothes shopping had to be carried out in his company. The respondent was very controlling.
    "He was always at home when any visitors or relatives came to the house. My life revolved around the children and housework. The respondent was also financially controlling. He receives all my benefits. These were paid into the joint account, but I was not allowed a bank cash card, and I had to justify any spending money that I required. The respondent would chastise the children from about 2014. He would beat them. I would stand in front of them to try to protect them. He would slap them across the back of their head and their backs. He would attack the girls, B and A most of all."
  212. She agreed that this was the opposite of what she had said before. She maintained that she was not trying to mislead the court. She said that she was scared and frightened. She also did not tell the Local Authority, and misled Dr B. In trying to stop the beatings, she said she tried to stop it as much as she could, and when she failed, she did not do anything else. She maintained that he had never hit her. She accepted that the children must have been scared of him.
  213. She maintained that she had never hit the children. She said that the children were only being hit by the father when naughty, when they did not listen. The list of occasions at H109 to 110, when he would beat the children, was put to her. She denied that the children would be hit for not reading the Koran right, and said that was a lie. He did hit them if they messed about and were fighting with each other. He did not hit them for a bad school report. And that was a lie. He would hit them if they used swear words or were naughty. He would hit them if the children did not listen.
  214. She denied that any of the children were hit for not doing any housework, and that was a lie. He did not hit them for waking up from a snooze, and A was telling a lie. She said she had found out recently that you cannot kick children, and when asked when that was, she said it was when she went to see Dr in the beginning of 2018. She later said that she knew, that you could not kick, when she was at home last year. She said that punching; lifting by the neck and hair; hitting with spoons and wires; hitting on the head with things; putting chillies in the mouth: would be child abuse in Pakistan, and was not acceptable.
  215. She did not believe A and B when they made those allegations, particularly when B said that she was hit with a cable. She said that the cable was a lie. Once again, she was colluding with the father to minimise his actions. She was then asked about the father's admissions at F67, in the meeting with the probation officer and the social worker:
  216. "The father asked what would happen now if he accepted the children's accounts/statements that he had previously denied, and stated gained by coercion and pressure from the Children's Services foster care. The father stated that he did regularly chastise and physically punish the children. Not every day, and not all the children. Mainly A and B. He said he would mainly smack them either on the back of their heads or on their legs. He made it clear he very rarely smacked the younger children. He estimated it was two to three times a week."
  217. When I asked how hard these smacks would be, he told me it was a medium smack, not a full force one. However, he appreciated that medium smacks on a child are still very substantial. The father stated he did hit B hard. She cried so he expects that it was painful, and it did hurt her. The father maintains that his wife was not at home when this incident with the spoon happened.
  218. The father admitted that he hit A with his hands on average every week, sometimes more regularly than once a week. With B, he admitted that he hit her on average once per week, sometimes more. With C, he hit her with his hands, perhaps once a month, or maybe more. With D, the same as C, but not since she had got her kidney condition. For E, "Maybe I hit him, but I don't remember". Then things moved to no more than two to three times in his life, "But never like I hit B and A". For G, the father stated he never hit or hurt. The father admits he hit the children on their bum, back of the neck, head and legs. He then went on to admit that he did grab the children by their throats, but never lifted them off the floor.
  219. Despite saying he had never used any implement to hurt the children, at the beginning of the meeting, the father also admitted that he used a phone charger wire to hit A and B; and estimated this would happen on average once a fortnight. He stated he would hit them with the wire from about 1 metre away, and this would be with medium force. He admitted that when he hit the children with his hands, this would also be with medium force. He accepts that the children may have had marks or injuries on their bodies as a result of this. The father admits that when he was hurting one of the children, the other children would often hear and witness this, and he accepts that this would have been frightening for the children.
  220. In my judgment, this was a rare moment of honesty from the father, no doubt hoping that a change of tactic away from downright dishonesty to some honesty may present more success in pursuit of rehabilitation of the children into his care.
  221. The mother said that maybe there was a mistake when they wrote the account down. She said that she did not accept it, and knew nothing about it. The father had never used anything in front of her, and she did not accept that. I do not believe her. She did not know why the children had alleged it. She never saw him use a phone charger. She did not see any marks on them. I do not believe her on that either. She well knew what was happening, and she is conspiring with the father to minimise his and her actions.
  222. There is a wealth of evidence against her on this. Her own evidence is that she was largely confined to the house, and went out either with him or with the children. She would have witnessed these beatings. She said she saw the mark caused by the spoon, and when she went to Pakistan, the father told her that he had hit B, and B agreed. The mother agreed that it would be whipping to hit somebody with the phone charger cable from a metre away, and that would be wrong. She agreed that it was a serious admission for the father to make.
  223. She did not accept that she saw it with her own eyes. She said, "Unless I see something, I don't believe it". When she resumed evidence the following day, she straightaway said that sometimes she had not understood during questioning the previous day. She was asked to give an example, and she said when Mr Crabtree had questioned her about the children being kicked, the day before. She said it was when Mr Crabtree, said, "Kick, kick, kick".
  224. That complaint of the mother cannot be right. She was not being asked to deal with questions in English, they were being translated. I have no doubt at all that the word "kick" was capable of being translated into Urdu, and was translated into Urdu, a fact confirmed by the interpreter, who said that when he had translated, she understood. In my judgment, the mother was trying to explain away any difficulties with cross-examination from the day before. I also clarified with the interpreter that he asked the mother regularly if she understood in Urdu, as he was translating. She had thought overnight, and come up with a fabricated explanation for any perceived difficulties from the day before.
  225. The father's criminal conviction in respect of the assault occasioning actual bodily harm, to which he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to twenty weeks' imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months, was put to her. She said that she accepted it. It was put to her that that meant that the assault took place when B was 9. She agreed, and said he had probably hit B before then. She was then asked why she had said earlier in her evidence that the slapping did not start before the age of 11. She had no good answer for that. She was also asked about D. She had said that D would be slapped, until she was diagnosed with a kidney condition. She agreed that she was diagnosed aged 5. That meant that by definition, D was slapped before she was 5.
  226. She went on to say that D still got irritated very quickly, and would sulk. Rather than strike, the father would sit her down and make her understand. The mother would do the same. It was put to her therefore that the parents knew how to discipline without hitting. C147 was put to her in which she said, in response to the final threshold dated 5 January 2018, that she accepted the allegation that the father had assaulted B with a wooden spoon, using such force that the spoon broke, and B suffered a bruise to her thigh. She said that she accepted that.
  227. She was asked why, in her evidence-in-chief, she described it as a toy spoon. She said she did say that, and that half of it was plastic, and that the handle was wooden. She said she had always maintained that it was plastic at the front, and wooden at the back. She was asked why her case always seemed to follow that of the father. She replied that B had said it was a toy spoon, to her, in Pakistan. She accepted that to cause the bruising, 3 by 5.5 centimetres, it would have go be a hefty blow and very painful. Then, it was put to her that in her initial statement at C73, again she had agreed that it was a wooden spoon. She maintained that B told her it was a toy spoon.
  228. It was put to the mother that she was lying, and B never said that. She had said to everybody else that the spoon was made of wood. B told the social worker, recorded at C314, that she was hit with a wooden spoon. A had reported to the social worker, at paragraph 9.12, "I was there when B got hit. It was so bad. I saw the spoon break. It was a wooden spoon, and it snapped". The mother maintained again that there was just a wooden bit of the spoon. The father's pre-sentence report was put to her at C70 when under the section, "Offender details", it is recorded that, "The father hit his young daughter with a wooden spoon".
  229. In my judgment, she was colluding with the father, and bringing her evidence into line with his. The mother agreed that the children were inside the house at the time of the incident, and therefore it must have been emotionally abusive for them. It was put to her that after the spoon broke, the father continued to hit the child with his hand, and the mother maintained that B did not report slapping after the spoon broke.
  230. She was then asked about visits from Mr A from Families First, and she maintained that she did not know what they spoke about. She remembered him using the word "angry", which caused the mother to point to A. She could not remember speaking to Mr A at all, other than that. It was put to her that the father did not challenge the account of Mr A , that the father interpreted for the mother. The mother suggested that the father was lying if that was his account.
  231. Then, it was put to her that she did not need Mr A to tell her that it was wrong to hit, kick or slap children, because she knew that already. She said that, "Everybody knows it is wrong". She said, "I would say to him to stop, but he would simply say that he could do it". She said she knew it was wrong, and that it would hurt the children emotionally and physically.
  232. She was then asked about Monday, 13 March 2017, when the report of the assault first came to light. She said that the father went to collect the children at the end of the school day, but did not return with B, only the other three. She asked where B was, and he said that she was still at school. He said that she had made a complaint, and the social worker was involved. The mother asked why, and he said that they had taken her to hospital. The mother said she asked what the complaint was, and the father said he did not know.
  233. The mother maintained that she was very concerned about B, and when she would come home, but she did not do anything to make enquiries. It was put she did not make enquiries because she did not need to. She had been present during the assault, and knew what had happened. She maintained that B had fallen from a bike, and the mother saw a bruise. She thought the bruise was caused by the fall from the bike.
  234. When the social worker came around, and told her that B said that the father had hit her, then she knew that the investigation was into the father hitting B. The social worker had said that because of the allegation, the father had to move out, and he could not see the children unless supervised by the Local Authority. The mother said she knew that. When B came at about 11.00 pm, the mother said that B said she fell from a bike. She denied that she was present during the assault.
  235. It was then put to her that her account that she had gone out for a walk with F was inconsistent with her statement in support of her application for injunction at C499, paragraphs 9, 10, 11 and 12. The mother said that the doctor had advised her to exercise to control her diabetes. It was suggested to the mother that she was now making up the account as she went along. In my judgment, she was giving a fabricated account. I am satisfied that she was present at the scene of the assault on B with the spoon, and did try to prevent it, as reported by the children. I cannot conceive of any sensible reason for them to lie about that. The walk for the diabetes is an account that the parents are giving pursuant to a conspiracy to lie about the mother's presence at the scene, and to try to distance her from the assault, to try to strengthen their case that the children should return to her care.
  236. She said that she found out in Pakistan that the bruise was not caused by a fall from the bicycle. When she had gone for a walk with F, she was out for a long time, and when she came back, the father left with B almost immediately, and he was out for a long time. The other children must have seen the attack, and yet had reported nothing to her about it. Despite that, she maintained that she had a good relationship with the children. When B came back, she had sweets and crisps in her hand. The mother did not ask the father why he had not brought treats back for the other children. Even though it was teatime, she was allowed to eat the sweets and crisps, and to share them out with the other children. She did not accept that there was anything inconsistent in her account about this.
  237. She maintained that the fact that he had hit B was the reason why they separated. She did not separate until she was in Pakistan, despite the fact that he had been systematically hitting the children in the past, because once in Pakistan, she had her family around her. She said at C76, paragraph 10: "Had I known earlier that he had hit B or any of my children, I would have told the police straightaway. I will not tolerate that kind of behaviour towards my children".
  238. It was put to her that she was lying, and her children were being hit on a regular basis. She said that her understanding was that you could slap children, even to the head. She was asked about the report that B was being hit with a flex in 2015. The mother said that nobody talked to her. It was put to her that she never seemed to be around when the children needed her. The mother said that no-one had worked with her to show her what you can do and what you cannot do. "It is their fault as well", she said, "No-one told me anything".
  239. It was put to her that she had told the court that instinctively she knew it was wrong. She was, in my judgment, seeking to minimise her culpability. She agreed that it was her signature at the bottom of the working agreement at F222. She accepted that the father had assisted her at the airport with the children, and also at the stop-off at Istanbul. In Pakistan, he assisted her with the children from the plane to the meeting point at the airport. She said that she had told him not to come, but he had come by himself, of his own free will. She said that she had told him that he was not allowed to come.
  240. She had then gone to her mother, who was in hospital, with the father, and the children went with the paternal grandparents. After hospital, they went home, and then he had told her that he had hit B. She asked him why she had not been told that before. He said that he had stopped B from telling her. The mother had an argument with him, and had separated from him. They had arrived back home at about 6.00 pm from the hospital, and he told her at about 7.00 pm. She was asked what prompted that, and the mother said that he just told her casually as they were sitting around with other family members. She then said that she had asked him to tell her if he had hit B. He said, "Yes, I have hit her". She was asked why she had asked that question, if she believed that the fall was from a bicycle. She said, "I asked because I was angry with him, why he had travelled". She said, "I said, 'Tell me straight: what has happened', and that is why I asked him if he assaulted B".
  241. This was all a complete fabrication, in my judgment. She knew that the father had assaulted her with a wooden spoon; they were fleeing from England to Pakistan to evade the authorities, and remove the children from the jurisdiction. She denied ever hitting the children with her hand or with a hairbrush, or pulling hair, or hitting B with a rubber pipe. I believe B on this issue. I do not believe the mother. The mother maintained that she was suggesting that she had said to D that chillies have a hotter effect on naughty children. The entry in the foster carer records at L132 was put to her:
  242. "D started saying about her mum used to put chillies in her mouth. I asked why did she do that. She said, 'If we were naughty, she used to sit us on the kitchen, and put chillies in our mouth'. I asked, 'What did you do?' She said, 'We used to quickly wash our mouths because it was very chilly'. I then asked, 'Was it just you?', and she said, 'No, she did it with everyone'."
  243. The mother denied doing that. She said that she would put chillies in the curry, and if she ate that bit, then she would say, "Mamma, chilly", and the mother would say, "Only a naughty child feels the chilly". This was an inherently implausible account, in my judgment, a fictitious account that attempts to draw out from D's truthful account certain parts, and then distort into a false narrative.
  244. H:

  245. She said there was a time when she visited Pakistan with E, when a baby about six months' old. The trip would have been in the middle of 2013. She needed to get some treatment because she had rashes over her body. She was in Pakistan for six or seven weeks. When she came back, she was not sure if it was A or B who said that H had shown them a video, a dirty video, or a shame video. She said that she had asked A whether he had shown them before, and she said yes. Her reaction was that she did not like it, so she went to H's house, and spoke to his mother. H said that nothing had happened.
  246. She told them that H was not to come to the house, and her daughter would not come to their house. She said that she told the father, and he was angry with H. She went and spoke to H's mother by herself, and did not involve the police because the mother and her son did not accept it.
  247. The mother said she knew the girls are saying more happened with H than just watching videos, but she said that she did not know at the time, and only found out recently. She said that she had seen the video interviews of the children, and that those described being sexually abused by H. She said that she could not say yes or no to believing the children. The enquiry was done from one side only, and A and B were giving different statements. She said, "It is for the judge to see".
  248. That, in my judgment, demonstrates her lack of understanding, insight, and lack of empathy for her children. It is likely that children of that age, in recounting events from that far back and at that age, would give differing accounts. She was asked why it was that she had accepted that H had shown pornographic movies to the children if she had not seen them with her own eyes. There was no satisfactory explanation. She maintained that she did not know about the allegations of rape, but found out about the allegation of a video when she came back from Pakistan in 2013.
  249. In respect of the allegations of sexual abuse made by the children against H, the mother said she had only heard one side, and it was difficult for her. She was then asked about paragraph 6 of her statement at C590:
  250. "I confirm that I did not tell the police about the pornographic video when they first visited in April this year, as the only translator available was by telephone, and it was not very clear. I was asked questions about H, and told that allegations had been made against him, but I was not told what the allegations were. I was shocked and confused, because what I had been told about the video had happened five years ago, and I did not connect the two things in my mind. However, when I reflected on what had happened, I contacted the social worker for a contact number for the police, and I spoke to them again at the earliest opportunity. I attach screenshots taken from my phone in this regard."
  251. She was asked why she had not mentioned the video when it was so obviously linked to the investigation. She said at that stage she did not know what the allegation was. It was put to her that she did know what the investigation was about, and that it was sexual matters, as that information was passed on to her by the Local Authority, with my permission.
  252. The trip to Pakistan:

  253. She accepted that she had signed the working agreement with the Local Authority set out at F222, which set out a number of expectations of the mother. She said that she only really fully understood the expectations having been interpreted in court. She did not understand fully during the meeting with the social worker because there was a problem on the phone line with the telephone interpreter, and then it cut off. She did, however, say that her understanding was that she was not to allow contact between the father and the children. Clearly, in my judgment, she did know.
  254. She had the children at the time. Shortly after signing the agreement, she did go to Pakistan with the father. She accepted that she did not tell the Local Authority. She said she asked the father to tell them. She accepted that the father was with her in Pakistan, and that he should have told the Local Authority he was with her. She said they did not give her a contact number. She said the urgency in going to Pakistan was that her mother was very ill. I do not believe her. She went for two weeks, but then became ill herself, and could not come back. I do not believe her.
  255. She came back on 19 May 2017. She had had a child by caesarean section, but did not bring the new child, G, back, because he could not come. She went to the embassy, but he did not have a card, so he could not travel. She came back on her own. She said as he had no visa, he could not come. I do not believe her or the father on this issue. They have conspired with family members to keep G in Pakistan, out of the jurisdiction, and away from the authorities here. That is because they believe that he would be removed from their care if he returned here.
  256. She said that G is now with paternal grandmother, and she is looking after him very well. She speaks to him face-to-face daily. The last visit was when she went out to get a card for him. She could not remember the date. She last saw him in person when she went over to bring him back last year. She maintained that she had done everything that she could to bring him back. She is not telling the truth.
  257. In terms of his decision to travel, the mother said that she had phoned him and asked him to tell the social workers, and he said he would. She phoned him when she was about to leave, to tell the social workers that she was going to Pakistan. She thought he would tell them. She was, in my judgment, lying. She had given birth in Pakistan, and then came back, in my judgment, because of the High Court order. She said before he left, he had telephoned her, and said a taxi was coming to collect, and then said he was coming but travelling separately. He had told her before she left to go to the airport.
  258. It was put that on the Friday, the 17th, there had been contact for the father with the children. The entry at C340 was put to her, about A remembering the father coming in the early hours, before the trip to Pakistan. That account of A, I accept as accurate. It is unlikely that a girl of A's age would have had the sophistication to make it up. There is no reason for her to do so. She would not understand the significance of that evidence within the factual jigsaw. I am satisfied, having considered the wealth of evidence on this issue, that the parents deliberately went to Pakistan to remove the children from the jurisdiction.
  259. The mother said that the father did not come to the house, but she did not know why A said those things. The mother said in response to the suggestion that that was compelling evidence from A: she replied, "Why did I come back then?" It was put that she did so because there was a High Court order compelling her to come back. She accepted that she knew that there was a good chance that they would come into contact with the father at the airport. It was put to her that she knew that if she did not prevent the father and children coming into contact, she would breach the agreement. She said that the father was acting of his own free will, but accepted that they had had contact at the airport.
  260. She did not report it, she said, because she did not have a number of social services, and had language difficulties. It was suggested to her that she could have used the support of the people she had asked to be assessed as potential connected carers. She said, "You give me the children back, and I will use the support". She was asked why there were no calls by her, or on her behalf, to social services, when in Pakistan, and she said that she did not have the number.
  261. She was asked by me why she had asked the father to contact social services before they left, and if they had said that she could not take the children, what she would have done; and she said she would not have gone. She accepted, however, that she did not wait to hear back from social services, and simply assumed he had told them.
  262. She did not tell any of the family support workers or social workers attending to deal with the pick-up and dropping-off of children on the Friday contact. She maintained that this was due to a problem with the English language. It was put to her that she knew exactly what was going on. I find that she did.
  263. She said that there came a point on the Pakistani trip where she went to Karachi in April. She said that she knew of the orders made by the High Court on 31 March 2017 to return the children because a cousin had told her of them. She knew that the father had been arrested, and remanded into prison. Again, her cousin told her that. She said that she knew that he was in prison, but did not know exactly what was happening. It was put to her that B was reported as saying that the move to Karachi was so that they could not be found: C337. The mother said that she did not know why she said that. She does, in my judgment, because it was.
  264. She travelled to Karachi because her sister lives there, and there is a very good hospital that she wanted to go to. It was put to her that Karachi was 1,400 kilometres away from Rawalpindi, and if she was looking for good hospitals she could have gone to Kabul, which is only 350 kilometres, or Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, which is 28 kilometres away. She said that she wanted to go to the hospital in Karachi, and her sister was there. It was put that she was moving away from her family in Rawalpindi in so doing, as well as exposing herself to an arduous journey with the children. She accepted that she had never even been to the hospital in Karachi, but went there because her sister said to go there. This was fanciful nonsense. I did not believe a word of it. The mother was lying. The account was, and is, inherently implausible.
  265. Inter-sibling sexual activity:

  266. In terms of the children's allegations of sexual activity between themselves, she said that she had only found out now. They said it happened, and she said, "No, it didn't". She maintained that the children had said different things. Their sleeping arrangements were that whilst A had a separate room, and initially the mother said she did not sleep with the others, her account changed very quickly to them all sleeping together: that is, A, B, C and D, as A did not use her own room. There was an extra-large bunkbed at the bottom in that room, where they all slept, and a small one at the top.
  267. When she heard the allegations about the girls touching each other sexually, she did not like it, but did not know. She had not seen anything to make her suspicious. She was asked why the children did not sleep in their own  beds. She said that A had her own room, but would not sleep in it, and they all wanted to sleep together. It was put to her that it was for the parents to put in place rules for the children, and the mother replied that she was not strict with them.
  268. Pressure by the mother and father on the children:

  269. She denied the suggestion by A that she tapped her on the leg during contact to send a clandestine message to her, to do or not to do something. In dealing with the report of contact at F106, she said that C was reading the book, and they turned the page, and saw the prince kissing the princess. C moved back. The mother said that she said to C that it was the father kissing his daughter. She was asked why she said this, and she replied that kissing is not right in their country, and C had become shy. She said she did not say that quietly, and gave a demonstration of the volume that she would have used, and I agree with the suggestion of Mr Crabtree that it could be heard quite clearly from 20 feet away.
  270. It was put to her that the interpreter did not hear it. She denied that anybody had asked what had been said, and in particular that HG had asked that question. She said she was sure she would have told her. I did not believe this account. The picture came well into the book, which made a nonsense of suggesting that it was a father and a daughter kissing. The picture itself was wholly inconsistent with a father kissing a daughter. It was a romantic kiss, and frankly would be a disturbing suggestion, in my judgment. It was a dishonest account.
  271. She accepted that it would be abusive to put pressure on a child to change evidence to undermine a placement in foster care, and it would be wrong to use contact to communicate or give signs to a child to change evidence in contact. She was asked if she accepted what the children said, and that the father had done that. She said she did not know. She said that the children saying things against her and the father were liars. She said that she accepted that A had tied a scarf around her neck, and then tied it around a light fitting, and jumped from a height because she wanted to end her life. She accepted that she had said that it was due to pressure she was placed under by her father. She also told her that in contact.
  272. She said that after contact, A said to her that she wanted to talk to her about something. She said there were cameras in the foster carer's house, and wanted to speak to her in private. A told her that she did not say that it was due to the father, it was the foster carer who said that.
  273. She was then asked about the note at F1:
  274. "A is getting frustrated with the other children because they are not listening to what dad is telling her she must tell them to do, when he communicates with her by phone. Dad is threatening A and the other children, 'Don't tell the social workers the truth, or I will go to prison'. B has told A, 'I have told the social workers the truth'. A got a scarf and tied it around a lightbulb and her neck. She has jumped from the bed, and it, the light fitting, had given way.
    "A is saying that she cannot control her anger, and is taking it out on her siblings, regularly beating them and blackmailing them, to try to get them to do what dad is telling her to make them do. A feels that she cannot control the other children, and she has failed her parents. A has been quiet, tearful, and has had poor eye contact. There were no ligature marks, the lightbulb gave way instantly. B was in the bedroom, and saw A jump from the bed, and smiled, according to A."
  275. The mother maintained that A had said to her that she did not do it due to the father. It was put to her that the note showed that A was speaking from the heart, but the mother said that she had no knowledge. She said that, "She told me one thing, and said another thing here, I don't know".
  276. The entry in the social work chronology at C337, for 20 July 2017, was put:
  277. "I collected A, B, C and D from contact, and took them to their foster placement. When I arrived, C said that she wanted to speak with the Urdu-speaking contact supervisor. She said that she was worried that there were cameras in the foster carer's home. A said when she was in hospital, her foster carer said to A that, 'You had a lot of pressure on you. That's why you decided to take your life'. The mother told A that she should tell the contact supervisor that she is not getting any pressure from her father at all, and that was not the reason behind attempting to take her life. A was quiet, and did not say that she was unhappy with the foster carers, or reiterate what her mother said.
    "At placement, A stated, 'I was the one who was beaten up at home. C and D were never hit. B was, but not as much as me'. A maintained that the reason she attempted to take her life was because of pressure from her father, and not being able to manage her sisters' behaviour. She stated that she only said the comment about the foster carer today because her mother was tapping her on the leg, which meant, 'Tell her now'. A said that she knew what this sign meant as her mother had done it to her before. A said that she only did what her mother wanted because she felt scared."
  278. It was put to the mother that one week after trying to take her life, A was being placed under pressure to change her story. The mother said that she accepted that she had had pressure from her father, and was not lying about it. It was put to her that that was the opposite of what she had said the day previously when she was giving evidence.
  279. In terms of tapping the leg, the mother maintained that she did it just in a loving way, and not to prompt; or it might be to get them to look in a different direction. In cross-examination by Mr Khan, a contact log at page 2291 from 10 July 2017 was put, in which A was recorded as asking to speak to Louise because she was upset, and felt that the foster carer was grumpy with her for the past few days. She did not know what she had done. She thought that B had told the foster carer that A strangled her, however A said that she did not, she had simply pinched around the throat. There was a picture of B's diary, and A claimed that they did not tell the truth. It was also put that A had made a picture or card for the father saying that she loved him, and that he was the best dad ever. Of course, if the Local Authority case is right, then this was at a time when she felt as though she was under pressure from her father, and had let her parents down.
  280. In my judgment, the attempt to end her life was not due to her perception of having upset the foster carer. I find the note from the staff nurse, of the conversation with A, to be utterly compelling. It was, as suggested, delivered at a time of great emotion, and appears utterly authentic. It also fits in with the holistic jigsaw of evidence. Once again, the mother has been dishonest in dealing with this issue. I find that she did attempt to pressurise A into minimising her father's culpability one week after A tried to end her life due to pressure being placed on her by the father.
  281. She denied saying anything to the children about their evidence in contact. She said in contact there was an interpreter and two social workers, and that she never said anything to the children. She denied taking every opportunity during unguarded moments to get the children to change their accounts. I do not believe her.
  282. G:

  283. She wanted all her children back, including G, she said. She said that once she had the older children back, she would speak to the mother-in-law about the return of G. She said that she had spoken to her about it already, and her mother-in-law had said that he would stay with her. When she spoke to her, the mother-in-law said, "Where are the other children?", and when told that they were in foster care, the paternal grandmother said that she will keep him. She said that G considers her as his mother, that being the paternal grandmother.
  284. The mother maintained for him to come over, he needs a card to enable him to travel. She had been to Pakistan, and went to the place to get the NICOP cards. The authorities asked where his father was, and said that they needed the fingerprints from both parents. It was put to her that B was born in Pakistan in 2007, and again the mother's case was that she had been out to visit a sick relative, her father, just as she did in 2017. Also, the trip coincided with care proceedings in 2007 as it did in 2017. It was put directly that G was not being brought back as the mother considered that he would be removed into foster care. The mother denied that. In my judgment, she was lying.
  285. She was asked how it was that G and she spoke, and that he appeared quite happy, when he was only 16 months' old. The mother replied that he looked at her face-to-face, and said, "Mamma", and she would say, "My son". He looks and sees her. He has been with the paternal grandmother since he was 2 weeks' old. I noted that the mother displayed no emotion when talking about G. At other times during the hearing, she displayed extreme emotion.
  286. The parents' relationship:

  287. She was asked about her intentions in Pakistan once the father told her about the assault on B. The mother had said that she visited the police, and a lawyer, and asked them to draw up papers for divorce because she was outraged by his behaviour. She was asked why she changed her mind, and she replied that she had spoken to a lawyer in Pakistan, who said that it would have taken time, and the mother had to come back to the UK. She was asked why she had not divorced the father here, and she said it was because she had been very busy, and had not had time. She accepted that she had seen separate solicitors during the currency of these proceedings for the purposes of her application for an injunction.
  288. Again, I simply do not believe her account. If she was genuine in wanting a divorce from the father, she has had ample time to instruct a solicitor. Her statement at C79, paragraph 18, was put to her:
  289. "When I had decided that I wanted to divorce my husband, our families wanted me to give him another chance on account of the children. I did not want to agree, and I saw a solicitor in Pakistan on 5 April to prepare the document that I need to start the divorce process. I attach this document. I was told that the process was not immediate, and would take time. I took the document to the court on 17 April. After 17 April, both families asked me to give my husband another chance. They were concerned about the children and the fact that they were still very young. They urged me to separate from my husband if this was still what I wanted, but did not want me to issue divorce proceedings. I agreed simply to separate from my husband. I am very angry with my husband for what he has done, and I remain separated from him. He has let both me and the children down badly."
  290. It was put to her that her family thought that this was just a one-off incident, which she accepted. She was asked why she had not told her family that he was slapping the children all the time. She said it was because she knew that you could slap. Her evidence on her beliefs around hitting children is inconsistent, and the mother tried to tailor the evidence around her perception of what fitted in with her case. She was asked why, in her evidence previously, she had said that she knew that it was fundamentally wrong. She said that she did not agree with slapping.
  291. The report of Dr B at E26, paragraph 5.38 was put to her:
  292. "The mother reported that she condemns the father's assault on B. She reported that it was unacceptable, and if she was aware that it had happened at the time, she would have called the police. She stated that the father had never been physically abusive before, to her knowledge, and described it as a one-off incident. She described the children's love for their father, and that other than this incident, 'He's a good father', illustrating this by describing how at contact visits, they cling on to both their parents, and tell them that they love them. She did not accept that children could both love and fear a parent, and that she believed that B did love her father, because it was an isolated occurrence."
  293. It was put to the mother that the reason that she said that to Dr B was because at that stage the children had not disclosed significant physical abuse, and she and the father were trying to deal with it as a one-off incident. She said that she did say this because she was scared that he would tell his mother not to give G back. She accepted it was dishonest. She was asked by Mr Khan, on behalf of the father, whether when she said that the father would hit the children on the back of the head, that in fact the father's case was that it was just the back of the neck. The mother said that it was the back of the neck but that she was calling it the head.
  294. I clarified with the interpreter that there are different specific words for head and neck in Urdu. The mother said that she considered the whole of the back of the neck and the head as the head, which brought her evidence in line with the father's suggestion that he only hit the neck. This was a clear example of the mother's willingness to collude with the father to try and present a united front. If the matters were not so serious, the amateurish attempt at trying to present a plausible account, that fitted with the father's account, would have been laughable. Irrespective of any physical separation, in my judgment, the mother has not separated from the father emotionally or psychologically.
  295. The photographs of B's injuries were then put to her, which she accepted were shocking to look at. It was then suggested to her that her evidence so far had tallied with the father's, and minimised what the father originally said. It was put to her that the father had originally said it was a wooden spoon that he struck B with, and then changed to a toy spoon; and she was saying that now. She maintained it was a toy spoon, and that B and the father told her that. She was then asked to remember the bruise that she had been shown, and looking at it she accepted that it looked as though he had used something else other than a toy spoon, and maybe a wooden spoon. It was also put to her that in giving her evidence previously, she had indicated with her hand the size of a very small spoon, and she was now saying that it was the size of a normal kitchen wooden spoon.
  296. She was asked about paragraph 6.44 at E43 from the report of Dr B. She was asked about her loyalty to her husband, and said that she was under his pressure, and she was in fear of him. She said that what she said to Dr B was because she was scared. She was asked about paragraph 6.51 at E46:
  297. "The barriers to her being able to provide appropriate care in relation to protecting the children, and keeping them safe, are: her mistrust of the Local Authority and those outside of her community; the collectivist perspective of her culture; her propensity to submit to the father, and support him in her belief that it is for the greater good; and her minimisation or avoidance of acknowledging negative information that could portray her, her husband or her family in a negative light. These barriers make it challenging for her to provide appropriate care and safeguarding."
  298. This assessment is consistent with my own assessment of the mother from her evidence. She was asked whether she understood the interpretation of that quite-difficult paragraph, and she said she did. She was asked why she found it possible to understand that paragraph, and yet had asked for further explanation of paragraph 6.48, which was much more straightforward, the suggestion being that she was being tactical in saying that she did not understand 6.48. She denied paragraph 6.51, and maintained that she was separated from the father now. She was asked about the social worker chronology at C561, and the report of what A had said to the foster carer: "You know my parents are faking, don't you? They can't live without each other. They will never be apart. If we were ever allowed to go back home, we would get taken straight to Pakistan for sure".
  299. The mother said that she did not know why she had said that, and she has no connection with the father. In my judgment, again, whilst she may be physically separated from the father, she is not so emotionally and psychologically; and she has conspired with him to mislead the court, and colluded in giving evidence.
  300. Insight:

  301. She said she wanted an order that she should care for all the children, and when asked what help and support she could get, she said that she needed help and support with parenting in terms of attending parents' evenings at school; and attending appointments with doctors; and also some help with English. However, she did not need assistance with anything else. Whatever has happened in the past, she has accepted it, and none of it was her fault.
  302. In terms of the sexual activity between the children, and their sleeping arrangements, she said that if the children were returned to her, she would change those arrangements, and would install cameras in their rooms to keep an eye on them. In answer to questions on behalf of the Guardian, she was referred to the report of Dr B at E45, paragraph 6.48: "Furthermore, she reported that she did not feel that she personally needed to change anything per se, rather her husband needed to change his behaviour".
  303. The mother said, "I will change. Why won't I?" She then said, "Why do I change? I have not done anything?" She then said, "I am changing, I'm going for therapies and assessment. I will change. I am changing". She was asked where she felt she had gone wrong, and she said that she could not protect the children, but that was it. When asked in what sense she could not protect them, she said because she was scared herself, she could not protect children; and she was thinking, "You can slap a child".
  304. It was put to her that when she was discussing being accused of being pregnant, that was the first time during the hearing that she had shown true emotion, which was mirrored by the experiences that she had given to the therapist, A I. She had not, for example, reacted to the same degree when discussing the attempted suicide of A. The mother maintained that she was upset. She said the Local Authority had mistreated her, and been unfair to her, and yet she was not angry with them. She said that if the children are returned to her, then she will forget.
  305. She accepted that she had used the word "attacking" in her statement in support of the application for an injunction, and that the children would be frightened, and would be in fear. It would not have had a good effect. They would start to fight amongst themselves when they grew up, and would continue to do so in their own households. They might copy the violence that they had seen. That at least showed a degree of insight.
  306. When the description of E grabbing his sister F by the throat at E291, paragraph 6.29, was put to her, and the father saying that that was purely coincidental, and not conclusive evidence that he had ever done it, the mother said it was possibly E copying the father. She was then asked about paragraph 13.81 at E384 from the report of Dr P:
  307. "Physical chastisement has been used as a common form of discipline, and when the father has been angry. The effects on the children will be significant and negative. They will have been parented in fear and tension, not knowing when the next abusive incident would occur. This will have led to them living at home with high levels of anxiety. They are likely to be hypervigilant to threat. The children may accept that physical chastisement is acceptable, and this in turn my impact upon their views of men and women, and appropriate relationships in the future. The children, particularly A and B, are likely to have internalised the reasons for the abuse, and believe it is because there is something wrong with them."
  308. The mother accepted that it would affect the children, and that they would copy it. She accepted that physical chastisement was common when the father was angry, and that the children had been parented in fear and tension when he slapped them. Eventually, she accepted the paragraph of Dr P.
  309. In terms of the effect of the violence on her relationship with the children, she was asked what the impact of her lying about the father's violence was on the children. She was unable to give a satisfactory answer. She simply said that the children knew that she was in fear of the father. She was asked why the children had not been able to talk about the matters that they complained of, and the mother said she did not know. It was put to her that A said that she was physically chastised for telling the mother about H, and that A had learnt not to disclose abuse to parents as a result. She denied that the father had hit A when she told him.
  310. She was then asked about the following paragraphs from the report of Dr P: 13.58:
  311. "The mother has now admitted to high levels of physical chastisement that she witnessed from the father at home. Furthermore, both A and B have disclosed significant sexual abuse that they were unable to disclose whilst in the care of their parents. This highlights that the mother is not a figure who the children perceive can keep them safe from harm. Despite her narrative that she tried to save them, she was unable to stop the abuse in the first instance."
  312. Paragraph 13.56:
  313. "In relation to the mother, the events of the last few months, and the acknowledgement from their mother that she had accused children of not telling the truth, is significant in terms of their attachment to her. When the children were first removed, they would have been feeling incredibly vulnerable and distressed. This emotional distress will have been compounded by the fact that their mother denied the claims around the physical abuse at home. This in turn will have affected their attachment to her.
    "The older children have stated on numerous occasions, with the most recent being in July 2018, that their mother has tried to influence them in terms of the allegations that they have made. This will have had a negative impact on their attachment relationship to their mother. This will have highlighted to the children that she is not prioritising their individual needs."
  314. I accept that analysis of Dr P. At this stage, I formed the view that the mother was suffering from fatigue, and when considering how long she had been in the witness box, and the range of questions she had been asked, relevant to the issues, I considered that on balance it was disproportionate to continue her questioning. I thereby exercised my powers under Family Procedure Rule 22, having regard to the overriding objective and the mother's Article 6 rights; all of that without forming any critical view of the manner in which she was being cross-examined by Mr Povoas at the time.
  315. The father:

  316. I then heard from the father, who confirmed his statements at A27, A205, C40, C121, C366, C437 and C476.
  317. Physical chastisement:

  318. The father said that he would slap the children to the neck, the back of the head, bum or legs. Whilst it had been documented that he said it was two to three times per week, it was actually two to three times per month, he said. He never hit them so as to cause damage to them. He said he had pleaded guilty to the assault on B.
  319. When asked how she got the bruise, he said that D, C and A were in the kitchen, and B was upstairs. He asked B to come down to do homework, and she did not come. He went up and said to B, "How many times have I asked you to come down, and do homework?" She was lying on her bed, and there were lots of toys around. There was a toy spoon. He picked it up and hit her with the spoon. He did not think it would hurt or cause injury. That was beyond his imagination. He thought it would just be a light one. He said the skin around the thigh was very soft, so if you hit it with less force, it makes a mark.
  320. He said the spoon was about 1 foot long, the handle was wood, and the front part plastic. The spoon broke, and she said it hurt. He realised that it had hurt her straightaway. He kissed her as she was crying. He said, "I'm sorry, I did not want to hurt you this way". He said he did not slap as well, because there was no need to do so. His wife had gone out. At some stage, she returned, but he did not want to tell her anything. He felt sorry for what he had done. He did not want to tell her, he wanted to shelve it, so he took B out. He told his wife about the assault in Pakistan. He said he had never hurt another child like he had hurt B.
  321. Whilst A had complained of the telephone cable hitting her arm, he said if the allegation was true, surely there would have been a mark on her. There was a child protection medical. Indeed, no marks have been found on the children, he said, even though the children have been going to school regularly, and doing activities.
  322. That, in my judgment, was an opportunistic remark. He was asked about the meeting with the probation officer when he is recorded as making admissions. He said he saw the probation officer once a week. He went to see him because the Local Authority had discussed the care plan with him, and he was upset. The probation officer said that, "There are so many allegations against you, and if you had shared these in the beginning, it might have been a different plan. If you do not share things with the Local Authority, how can they work with you?"
  323. The father said that he had said to the probation officer, "What if I accept the allegations against me? Do you think the Local Authority will change the care plan?" He said, "I cannot guarantee it, it's up to the Local Authority, but if you do accept, then you need to contact the social worker straightaway". The father said he emailed the social worker at the earliest opportunity. A joint meeting was set up with the social worker and the probation officer, and the father at the probation office. The father said he admitted to lots of material, and when in the past he said it was under pressure, what he meant was: he was under stress.
  324. The first question that the social worker asked him was where was the mother when he hit B; and he replied that she was not at home. She asked if he strangled the children. He said the word "strangle" is one that he had just learned, and did not know it before. He said, "No, never". The probation officer said, "Maybe you just put a hand on her neck", and the father said that he said, "Maybe". The social worker was taking notes, and he did not know what she wrote. He only saw afterwards the word "grab".
  325. She then asked whether he had hit the children with a phone charger, and he said, "No, if I had, then they would have got bruises", he said, "or marks". The social worker said to him that the children were alleging he had hit them with a cable. He said he was under stress at the time, and he asked that if he accepted all things for the sake of his own children, would that make the Local Authority change the plan? If so, then he would accept it.
  326. He said after the meeting, the social worker told him that the Local Authority would not change the plan. The last sentence she said to him was, "We will not change the care plan". He said that if he had known that, he would not have made all of the admissions. In cross-examination by the Local Authority, he said that he accepted full responsibility for the bruise to B. He had hit her with a spoon that was roughly a foot long. The wooden part of the spoon had broken. He gave a physical demonstration of the force with which he had hit her, when he raised his hand above his head, and brought it down onto a carrier bag of papers on the desk. It was forceful.
  327. He maintained he had no intention of hurting her, just to get her attention. I do not believe him on this. It was put to him that he had said to Dr B that when the incident occurred, B said, "Ow". He said he had said that in his first assessment, but had said that she cried, and he said sorry, and gave her a hug. He admitted that she was hurt and scared. About an hour later, he had taken her outside, and bought her some crisps and sweets.
  328. The report of Dr B at E56, paragraph 7.26 was put to him:
  329. "At this point he stated that he wanted to get her attention, and so picked up a toy plastic spoon, and tapped her on the leg with it in order to gain her attention. The father stated that, 'In my mind, I wasn't hitting her to hurt', and that at the time he believed he had hit her lightly. The father stated that he was not angry at the time of the assault, and did not feel disrespected. The father reported that B had reacted by saying, 'Ow', and looking at him; and then he felt instantly guilty, and had apologised to her, and hugged her."
  330. It was put to him that he was lying to Dr B. He said that there were a lot of things that he did not share with Dr B. He did hide some things and said, "You can say lies, yes". It was put to him that he was not being truthful in describing the spoon as partly made of plastic. The Sentencing Remarks of the Honorary Recorder were put to him, in which the Recorder said:
  331. "You have brought shame on yourself, and you have brought shame on your community by the way in which you treated your daughter. You struck deliberately with a wooden spoon because she would not do her homework. She is 9. That is barbaric behaviour."
  332. He said he had pleaded guilty, and was sentenced accordingly. He accepted that it was barbaric behaviour. It was put to him that after hitting her with a spoon, he had also hit her with his hands, as reported by B, but he denied that. He did not deny that he would slap children to discipline them. He said that he learned that his behaviour with the children was unacceptable in the past. He now had the skills to deal with them differently. Before, if they were naughty or not listening, he would slap them. Now, he has learned how to discipline.
  333. He applied that when he went to contact, and he could see the response from his children. He said initially contact was not great, but as he applied everything, contact was now great. He said he realised where he had gone wrong, and wanted to start afresh. He accepted that his way of disciplining children was not right. He maintained that the only thing he had done in the past was to slap children to discipline them. He accepted that he had lied in different places, for fear of losing his children. He accepted that he had lied to the court, the Local Authority; the Children's Guardian; the social worker RM, but not all of the time, he said; his probation officer; and Dr B. I add to that list A I and the police.
  334. He was asked about his statement to the probation officer, and maintained that since November 2017, he had not told lies to anyone. That was a lie. It was put to him that he had clearly told lies on 19 December 2017, because he had made a whole series of admissions that he later retracted. It was put to him that he had said to the probation officer and the social worker that he used a mobile phone charger wire to hit one of the children.
  335. There was then a sequence of strange answers from him about what he had said in the joint meeting with the social worker and the probation officer. He persisted in asking to see the note written by the probation officer, saying that if the note was written by the social worker, it would be a lie; if it was written by the probation officer, it would be the truth. I summarise what he said.
  336. Overall on this issue, I formed the view that he was being evasive, dishonest and obstructive. He then went on to maintain that if he had hit the children with a mobile phone wire, it would have left a mark. It was put to him that in the joint meeting with the probation officer and the social worker, he was recorded saying that he would use a mobile phone wire once a fortnight. Further, that the probation officer in his oral evidence, had said that it was an accurate account of what had been said. The father responded by saying that if he hit children with it, he would have caused marks.
  337. He maintained that he never hits a child with a mobile phone charger wire. In my judgment, he has done just that, and it is likely that on occasions it has caused marking, but just not been identified as such by the authorities. He then sought to suggest that the conversation with the social worker had begun with him saying that if he admitted what was right, and what was not right, in the meeting with the Local Authority, then would they change their care plan. He said that he had said that. Whether it was true or untrue, he would accept everything if they changed their plan. He said that "maybe" because he had said that, she had written down what she had written: namely that he had hit the children with a phone charger wire.
  338. It was put to him that the probation officer was clear in his evidence that he had heard no such conversation of an incentive to accept, whether true or untrue; and when pushed, the father said that he was not saying that the probation officer was lying. He accepted the conversation between the three of them was in a relatively small room without distraction. He could hear clearly what was being said to him, and they would be able to hear what he said to them.
  339. He went on to say that he had asked the probation officer whether the Local Authority would change their plan if he admitted things, but the probation officer had said that it was not in his hands. That was during a meeting with just the father and the probation officer. He agreed that the purpose of the second meeting was for him to make admissions in the hope that the Local Authority would change their care plan. He said he had no option because the Local Authority had said to him that unless he accepted everything, they could not work with him.
  340. He was then asked about the statement of RM at C285, paragraph 9.11: "On 20 July 2017, B was able to share with me her version of the circumstances of the assault in detail. She recalled how she, both of her parents, and all siblings were downstairs in the room when the father assaulted her". Paragraph 9.12 was then put to him:
  341. "On 20 November 2017 A also informed me, in the presence of C and D, how she had witnessed the father assaulting B on that occasion, 11 or 12 March 2017. She stated: 'I was there when B got hit. It was so bad. I saw the spoon break. It was a wooden spoon, and it snapped. Mum did tell dad to stop'. My observations of A, when she was talking about this, were that she appeared to be visually reliving what happened, something that she appeared to find genuinely difficult. Whilst C and D did not offer any verbal contribution to this discussion, they also did not correct A."
  342. The father maintained it did not happen like this, everyone was downstairs, B was on her own, the mother was not at home. Later, he maintained that he tried to discipline by slapping. He was not trying to hurt them. He accepted his actions were not right. He did not accept it was physical abuse. In terms of slapping, he said, "What I have learned is that it is not right. Now, I understand it was wrong. Now, I know how to discipline children". He then accepted, "If you say physical abuse, I accept that".
  343. In my judgment, even now, he does not believe that slapping in the way that he slapped, was, and is, physical abuse. He was simply saying what he thought people wanted to hear. I formed the view that he does not really believe in what he is being taught about physical abuse, and hitting children. These are learned answers, and not something that he truly believes in. He has no real insight.
  344. Later, he accepted that he slapped B and A once a week. He did not accept that he punched and kicked the children, pulled their hair, or grabbed them round the throat. It was also put to him that in the past there had been a pattern of children making allegations against him; them being investigated; him having contact with them; and then they were retracted.
  345. He was asked about whether he had put his hands around the children's throats, or strangled them. He said there was an occasion when the social worker asked him whether he had strangled one of the children. He denied it. He said that the probation officer had said, "Perhaps you had put your hands on her neck", and he said, "I simply replied 'maybe'." He maintained that he had never said that he done it. He was then asked why he had said "maybe", and he said it was because the social worker was not satisfied when he said no, he had not strangled, so he simply said maybe. That, in my judgment, was a classic partial admission by a perpetrator of physical abuse. He did do just that.
  346. It was put to him that not only had he admitted to using a phone charger cable, he had also described how he did it, set out at F69: that he had hit from a metre away, with medium force. Again, he maintained that if he had hit any of the children that way, they would have had marks or bruises. In my judgment, it is unlikely that he would make false admissions of this gravity, and with the detail given, if he had not done those acts, even if he was wanting the Local Authority to change their plan. I find his account inherently implausible, and I do not believe him. The admissions that he gave to the social worker and the probation officer are much more likely to be true, and I find on balance that they are.
  347. He was asked about the referral from the school set out at C13 on 14 March 2017, and B's reaction when she had taken a pencil case belonging to another child. She had said that she was scared of getting whipped with a wire, or hit with a wooden spoon. He maintained that he did not think that she would say that she had been hit with a wooden spoon or a wire. It was put to him that she would say that because as a matter of fact she had recently been hit by him with a wooden spoon. Furthermore, he had admitted it on 19 December 2017.
  348. Again, he relied upon there being no marks. It was put to him that in fact marks had been seen in the past, and there had been incidents reported in 2014 and 2015 at C2 and C3. Even his account of the wire and A involved him using it as a weapon, but he maintained that he had not hit her with the wire. I simply do not believe him.
  349. He said he had been deceiving his wife during the visits of Mr A from Family First, in that he was not interpreting for her. He was asked to consider F220, and the note of Mr A . It was put to him that both of them had understood. I did not believe the father or the mother on this issue. It is much more likely, in my judgment, that Mr A 's account of events is accurate. He had not instructed Mr Khan to cross-examine Mr A that he had not been interpreting for the wife. He then heard the wife give evidence that he had not interpreted. He then, in my judgment, changed his evidence to bring it in line with the mother's dishonestly.
  350. The father accepted that within two weeks of visits from Families First, and being advised not to use weapons to physically chastise the children, he had done exactly that. He accepted that he had, and that he had made a mistake. He accepted that he had been advised of the consequences of using physical chastisement at the child protection conference. He maintained that nobody had ever invited the mother to the meetings. He was asked why, in his answer to the schedule at C618, he denied that the physical chastisement of the children was wholly disproportionate to what they had done. He replied that it was only a slap, but he accepted it now.
  351. He was asked when he had understood that it was disproportionate, and he said, "From November last year". That is inconsistent with his answer to the schedule in August 2018. He was lying. He agreed that the mother, on a number of occasions, tried to shield the children from his violence, and it was put that she must have known that the physical, verbal and emotional abuse of the children was taking place, and that it was caused by the father. He was asked why, in his schedule, he had denied that there was longstanding physical, verbal and emotional abuse of the children. He said that it has only been going on for one to two years, and therefore not longstanding.
  352. It was put to him that he must have beaten D before the diagnosis of kidney problems in 2015, and therefore it had been going on for at least two and a half to three years. Obviously, it had. In my judgment, longer than that, even, based on the ABE account of B which I accept.
  353. Relationship between the mother and father:

  354. He was asked why he had said to RM that the relationship with the mother was positive, and that they had a happy marriage: C310. He said that he did tell the psychologist that it was a love marriage, and initially they had a very good relationship. Naturally, they had had disagreements, as he would want to do things his way. He described that he had control, and was living life as he wanted to live. He had a good life. He did not think about the effect on the children of control in the relationship.
  355. He said, "You could say that the relationship had significant disharmony. It would be true". He agreed therefore that the children had been raised in a house where there was significant disharmony, but he maintained that he kept his children happy. He had met all their needs. He never went against their wishes. Once again, in my judgment, the father was demonstrating no insight. He said, "Whatever I have done, I have done. I have kept them happy. I should be told what needs I have not met".
  356. He agreed that it was an arranged marriage. After four years, he became controlling. He refused to let his wife learn English or to drive. He agreed that she would have been isolated, upset, lonely and depressed, but he had no intention to do so, but now realised he was wrong. Food and clothes shopping would be done in his company, and the mother was not allowed out to meet friends when they did so.
  357. On the day of the assault with the spoon, he was asked how it was that the mother was allowed to go out with only F. He said that was because the mother suffered from diabetes. He wanted her to get fresh air to control her blood sugar level, and also because she was carrying a child. She was not sent out for friends, she was sent out for fresh air, he said.
  358. After the assault, and when the mother had finally returned, he went out for one to one and a half hours with B. That was because he did not want her to tell anybody and was trying to keep her happy. That was why he kept her out so long. He told her not to tell the mother. He agreed that this was abuse upon abuse. However, he said, "I had said sorry to the child. I was frightened".
  359. He was asked about the incident when it was alleged that he had caused a raised red mark to the forearm of A using a mobile phone charger lead. He said that he had snatched the phone from A, and she was not happy. She wrapped the wire of the mobile phone charger around her wrist three or four times. She was asked for the charger. She refused. He snatched the charger, and said that that was how the red mark might have been caused. He accepted that he made a mistake.
  360. He also accepted that when he was physically chastising the children, he would strike to the back of the head and the back of the neck, which made a nonsense of the cross-examination of the mother, and her rather ridiculous answer.
  361. Pressure from the parents:

  362. He denied that he had ever put A under pressure, that had led to her attempt to take her own life. As far as he was concerned, he never put her under pressure, and did not know where she got that from. He was asked about the allegation that he was making telephone calls to A to put pressure on her. He said that he was allowed one phone call at the weekend for about 20 or 30 minutes. He was reminded that he was only supposed to have supervised Facetime contact that was authorised by the Local Authority. The father maintained that a call is a call, whether it's a telephone call or a Facetime call. He said he did not know who was supervising the call, and did not know if there was anybody with A or not.
  363. Once again, he was lying on this issue. He was making clandestine telephone calls to her. He maintained that it was his duty as a father to tell the children not to misbehave in their placements. He said that he had had two or three calls in addition to the authorised Facetime contact. In my judgment, based upon the reports of the children, and his dishonesty on this issue, it is likely to have been more.
  364. It was put to him that the foster carer notes referenced occasions when the children were being naughty, and saying that the father told them to do that. He denied that he had told the children not to tell the social workers what had been happening, otherwise he would go to prison. He asked why he would go to prison when he had already been dealt with for the assault on B. It was put to him because there had been dozens of assaults. He said that for some reason A was lying in suggesting that they were being told what to say by the father. Then, in a revealing comment, he said, "As far as physical abuse is concerned, there was none".
  365. Once again, this revealed that the father has no actual insight. It was put to him that he wanted to break down the placements in the hope that the Local Authority would give up, and send the children home. It was put to him that he would say things quietly in contact to the children, so that the interpreters could not hear; that he was giving them instructions because he was scared because the truth would come out. He denied doing that, and denied that he was afraid of the allegations of physical and sexual abuse coming out.
  366. Examples at L142, 143, 144, 690 and 21 were put to him. He maintained that A had telephoned him, and said that she was being deprived of food, locked in a room, and was deeply unhappy in foster care; that he had said, "Don't worry, it's school on Monday, and you can buy sweets and ice cream". He said that he said that because the children were living in foster care, and he had no control, and wanted to make her happy.
  367. I do not believe that he would have been content simply to say that to try to make her happy; he is the sort of father, in my judgment, who would have been straight on the phone to social services to complain, at the very least. He was lying in suggesting he had not put pressure on A. He was the proximate cause of her attempt to end her life.
  368. Contact:

  369. In the event of a care plan and placement outside the family, he said that contact should be more than three times per annum, and he was totally opposed to adoption.
  370. Forced marriage protection order:

  371. He did not accept the case for a forced marriage protection order, although he did not oppose an order. He also maintained in respect of passports, that there was no legal right to retain his passports.
  372. Trip to Pakistan:

  373. In terms of the trip to Pakistan, he was asked about his statement at C47, paragraph 27:
  374. "On the Saturday morning, I rang my wife to say I'd arranged a taxi to take her and the children to the Airport. At this point, I told her I had also booked a ticket for myself, and I would travel to the airport separately from her, and that I was going of my own accord, and I would not be jeopardising the fact that I should not have unsupervised contact with the children."
  375. He agreed that he had said that, and he knew that he would be breaking the working agreement, set out at F224; he knew that he could not be in the same place as the children unless authorised by the Local Authority. When they arrived at Pakistan, and got back from the hospital, the mother had asked him, "Did you hit the girl?", and when he said he had, there was an argument. The mother asked him why he did not tell her there, and why he had lied to her. She had then said that she was not living with him, and was taking the children to her parents. If she stayed there with his parents, she agreed it would have been in breach of the agreement.
  376. He was asked about C295, paragraph 13.3:
  377. "On 20 November 2017, A talked to me in more detail about this, and stated, 'I remember the night after you took us home from contact. I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of mum's bedroom. It was about 2 or 3 in the morning, and I woke up, and dad was there in the house. He was packing all of the suitcases. I asked him what was happening, and he told me we were going to Pakistan'."
  378. The father replied he did not agree with this. He would not have said that he would stay there until she was 18 because he had return tickets for two weeks. He denied going to the home. He said that he did not take a suitcase, "So, what is the point of referring to a suitcase?" He was pushed several times as to whether he was saying that A was lying. He clearly found it difficult to say that she was. He could not think of a reason why she would say it. He maintained that he had only gone to Pakistan with three items of clothing, and had not taken any other clothing, and in fact had taken a cousin's case over for him instead.
  379. I did not believe him on this evidence. It was inherently implausible. He denied the suggestion that they had run over to Pakistan to avoid the clutches of the social services. He accepted that he had not mentioned the trip to any other professionals, despite having opportunities to do so. He said he did not take seriously the contract of expectations that is agreed to. He did not think he was doing anything wrong in going with the family to Pakistan.
  380. It was put to him that he actually telephoned and said that the very reason that the children were staying in Pakistan was because he was not being given guarantees that they would not be removed if returned to this country. He said, "If I ran away, why would I phone? I phoned to inform them the children were not attending school for the next two weeks". It was put to him that he had telephoned to enter negotiations with Ms F and CC. He was asked about the conversation that he had had with CC, the social worker, set out at C33, already referred to. He maintained that he was saying that they would either come with him, or, if the assurance were not given, then they would stay with the mother until she was okay.
  381. He said he tried to explain as well as he could, but the line was not very clear. His intention was that he would not be returning for the time being, but he was coming back. It was put to him that he did not mention his wife's health at all in the conversation, and he maintained that he did tell them that she was in hospital. It was put to him that it was not put to her by his barrister, and he said, "Mr Khan has asked all the appropriate questions".
  382. In my judgment, he was caught out by this question. If his intentions were honest and straightforward, he would have come back with the children, in my judgment. He was then asked about the note in the custody suite, 1 April 2017:
  383. "However, he has said that for as long as the Local Authority intend to remove the children from his wife's care, they will not be returning to the UK, and his wife will make an application to the court in Pakistan for sole custody of the children. The allegations made are against him, which he has continued to deny in his police interview today."
  384. Furthermore, on 4 April 2017, a discussion at HMP:
  385. "Father stated that his brother as well as his mother and father plan to apply for the custody of the children, so that they can remain in Pakistan. He stated that before he left Pakistan, the family made this plan, so that if they did not hear from him, they would go to court on Monday, 3 April 2017. Father stated that his solicitor in Pakistan told him not to disclose any details of the children's whereabouts, except to say that they are in Pakistan. Father stated he will not work with the Local Authority whilst he is in prison. He stated that if he is not in prison, he will work with the Local Authority until they are satisfied, then go back to Pakistan and convince his wife to return, and will bring the children back to the UK."
  386. It was put to him that he was essentially saying that unless they got a guarantee that the children would stay with them, the children would remain in Pakistan. That was obviously the case, in my judgment, even though the father maintained it was the complete opposite. He was lying. He said, "What I was trying to say was that if they do not come back with me, they will eventually come back with the mother". He was lying. The whole story is a fabrication. He did go to the house in the early hours to pack. The family fled to Pakistan to avoid the authorities, and he tried to bargain a deal whereby the children would return and stay with the parents.
  387. The relationship between the parents;

  388. He accepted the mother's case that the relationship was over. He said the mother decided in Pakistan that they should separate, and now they have not lived together since. She had an injunction against him, and there was some talk of divorce. He accepted that the relationship was finished.
  389. The mother's allegations at C500 of him continually harassing her, were put, in particular paragraph 18:
  390. "Since 19 May 2017, I moved into my relative's address, and stopped contact with the respondent. The respondent has been harassing me nonstop through the family. He was constantly ringing my mobile telephone day and night. I ignored the calls. He was also sending me messages through our community, requesting that I contact him. He was also contacting me indirectly via relatives and friends, continually requesting that I meet up with him. I felt pestered and pressurised. I felt scared of him, and very upset and stressed. I felt intimidated by him."
  391. He maintained that all these things happened before therapy started, so then paragraph 21 was put to him:
  392. "The respondent has continued to harass me, and I believe that he has been following me. The last incident was on 6 March 2018. I think he is doing this because I have been ignoring his continual phone calls. I was walking back to my house with my cousin when I saw the respondent was following me. He came up to me, and asked to talk to me. I refused. I asked him to leave, and he refused. So, I threatened to call the police. I was scared, so I telephoned the police. They attended."
  393. He maintained that he did not follow her. It was a coincidence that he saw her. He did ask her to talk, and she did refuse. She threatened to ring the police, and so he said, "I will go". He did not refuse to go. He was clearly lying about these issues, in my judgment. I prefer the account of the mother. It is likely that this was a genuine moment when she was trying to separate from him, but sadly, in my judgment, that separation remains incomplete.
  394. He was asked about the statement of J M at S32, paragraph 2:
  395. "I have known the mother for a long time, since she lived in W. My parents are friends with her parents, and our families have known each other for a long time, since they were living in Pakistan. When the mother moved here, we became friends, and over time we have become quite close. We meet up for local functions quite regularly, normally every couple of weeks, and in between those functions, we make an effort to meet up at each other's houses. We would normally see each other once a week."
  396. The father said that he was not saying that the witness was lying. It was put that it was contrary to the mother's evidence about her inability to socialise. He was also asked about the statement of R H at S33, paragraph 2:
  397. "I have known the mother for many years through our families in Pakistan. When the mother got married and came over to England, I was introduced to her, and got to know her. I am very good friends with the mother, and I believe that we are very close to each other. I see her every other week at community functions and fundraising events. I do not get to see as much of her as I would like because of my work commitments, although we speak on the phone often."
  398. The father said that she was telling the truth. Those statements, in my judgment, paint a different picture to that described by the mother in her application for an injunction; and in hers and the father's evidence. They cannot both be right. What exactly is the nature of the current relationship: is difficult to assess against a backdrop of almost pathological dishonesty from the mother and father, but it is not a complete separation.
  399. Allegations of sexual abuse activity:

  400. In terms of these allegations of sexual contact between the children themselves, he said that he had not had the courage to watch the DVDs of the interviews. He had been told that B had said that A did something to her, which A had denied, so he said, "It is a matter for the judge". He denied that he was burying his head in the sand. He denied that he had had any responsibility if they had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact, because he did not know about it.
  401. H:

  402. In terms of the allegations that the children made against H, he was asked whether he was inclined to believe the children, and he replied, "It has not been proven". He was asked why the police came to see him about the allegations in respect of H. He had not said that he could help them, and that he knew nothing. He said that if the police had mentioned the pornographic movies that H had allegedly shown to his daughters, then he would have remembered.
  403. He was asked why he had not remembered, and the father had said that it had not come to him at the time. He was then asked whether it was just a coincidence that both the mother and he had suddenly remembered about the pornographic videos, and both sent a text to the social worker on the same day, 30 April 2018, C560. The father said that the cousin had come to his house and said that the mother was saying something about H, and something that happened several years ago, and then he remembered.
  404. I did not believe a word of that evidence. It was not just a coincidence that they both sent a text to the social worker on the same day, 30 April 2018. They were getting their stories straight, in my judgment, and had wanted to hide what they knew about H. I agree that this was evidence of collusion between the parents, and not the only incident.
  405. On the issue of the forced marriage protection order, he said that he and the mother had married in 1997, when she was aged 15. She had begun to live with him one year later, yet he had denied that in his response to schedule.
  406. G:

  407. He was asked about G, the youngest child. It was put to him that on the passport issue, the father was saying that he was now a prisoner in this country, and that was what G was in Pakistan. He replied yes. Later, in his evidence, he denied having said that, but there is all-party agreement, including Mr Khan on behalf of the father, that that was what was said. Yet another example of the father's dishonesty in the face of the court.
  408. He said that he accepted that the decision to go to Pakistan was wrong, but that the child was fine as he was with the paternal grandmother. It was put to him that he had substituted his own fostering arrangement with the mother for what he believed would happen in the UK. He replied, "I do not have this fear. His grandmother has this fear. She does not want the child to go out of the family".
  409. His answers to the schedule prepared by the Local Authority at C628, 12.13 and 12.14, were put to him, in particular that he neither denied nor accepted that he has no intention of returning G to the United Kingdom; and that he was therefore being evasive; also in relation to the allegation G remains in Pakistan, as the parents know that if he was brought to the UK, he would be removed from their care. He had said that he accepted that G would be placed in care if he was returned to the UK, but that was not the sole reason why he remained in Pakistan. Unsurprisingly, it was put to him therefore that this was at least part of the reason why he remained in Pakistan.
  410. I am satisfied that the reason that G is still in Pakistan is because the parents have no intention of bringing him back, because they believe that if he is brought back to the UK, he will be removed from their care, and will either be placed into foster care or even placed for adoption. In my judgment, that was the reason why the mother went to Pakistan. It was the same modus operandi that the parents used when there was Local Authority involvement with A, when she went to Pakistan, and B was born.
  411. The parents have historically, and through these proceedings, used the alleged illness of grandparents as a reason for emergency travel. The father has tried using his father's illness on two occasions to recover his passport, and go to Pakistan during the currency of these proceedings, only to withdraw his application. Most recently it was in the face of my direction that he provide evidential proof of his father's illness that was better than the poor documentary evidence that had been provided; and in the face of my provisional observation that I would be considering allowing him to go to Pakistan, but on the basis that I made an order compelling him to return his son to this country, so that if he breached the order, he would be in contempt of court.
  412. The father accepted the suggestion in cross-examination, on behalf of the Guardian, that he is a profoundly controlling man. He did not agree that he exercised religious control over the mother and the children, maintaining that he was open-minded. He accepted cultural control to a degree. He denied that he was scared about the Local Authority finding out about his regime of fear that he presided over. He denied that he was forceful and too directive in contact. Paragraph 6.33 of the report of Dr P at E342 was put to him:
  413. "A's sessions with her father are more difficult. He can be forceful in terms of making her engage in physical interaction, such as hugs and kisses. He talks a lot about religion to her, and the interactions between them are very directive. He will ask her if she is praying for him. A appears to prefer interacting with the contact workers, and the father will regularly ask her to stop, as he wants her to interact with him."
  414. He was then asked to consider the contact record at 2475. He denied the suggestion that that revealed he was controlling. He maintained that it was their religion, and his duty to tell her about it. It was up to her to follow it. He was just teaching her, and you had to do that at an early age. The contact record at 2476 was put to him. He had spoken about the Koran, and the first murder. Then, the father had gone on to speak of falling for his cousin, who was the mother. He was asked why he referred to the mother as a cousin, rather than his wife, and the father said that he did not think that he had used the word cousin. I find that he did.
  415. He denied talking about falling for his cousin: that he was trying to give any message to A. He denied being manipulative and subtle, exerting his control within contact. The father said that he had heard all the evidence, and considered that A does not want to come home, and that is why she is making the allegations against him. She is a teenager, "Which is a dangerous age", he said. "Maybe one day in the future, she will tell everyone why".
  416. In my judgment, it is likely that the father expects A to follow what appears to have been a family tradition of marrying a cousin at 15, and she needs the protection of a forced marriage protection order, as do others.
  417. It was put to him that when the father spoke about subjects such as marriage or religion, A would divert the conversation because she was uncomfortable. He denied that. The notes revealed to the contrary. In my judgment, he was, and is, directing and controlling in contact, as that contact record shows. He ignores the clear indicators from A that she wishes to change the subject away from religion and marriage, as was the case then.
  418. In terms of forced marriage, he denied that he was dismissive of it, simply saying that he had never thought about it. He accepted that A had said that she was anxious about it, and was surprised that she had done. He maintained that she was not engaged to her 22-year-old cousin in Pakistan. He was asked to consider the contact record at 1789 when A was speaking to the contact worker, asking about marriage. She also asked the contact worker whether she knew of the girl who had been killed, because she chose not to get married. She said that that was like her family, not the killing, but the others.
  419. Character witnesses:

  420. The mother relies on four character witnesses at 29 to 34. I think that is S29 to 34. Then, in what, in my judgment, was a disturbing part of the evidence, reference was made to a character reference in respect of the father dated 25 October 2017, and apparently provided by XX , Member of Parliament for Y. That was a reference which stated:
  421. "I have known the father for several years. He was formerly the Imam of the Mosque . I can confirm that in all the time I have known him, I have always found him to be a thoroughly pleasant, caring and decent man."
  422. That reference was set out on House of Commons headed notepaper. Whether that is appropriate is for others to judge. The father was asked about it, and he said that he had asked him for a character reference. The Member of Parliament knew that it was to be used for these proceedings. When challenged, the father said, "You can call him in the court". It then transpired that in fact the reference had been obtained for use in respect of an appeal against refusal to renew his taxi licence. The father maintained that he could use the reference anywhere, and not just those proceedings.
  423. He said that he had met with the Member of Parliament two to three weeks before, and the Member of Parliament asked him how the case, meaning this case, was going. Eventually, the father accepted that he did not ask to use the letter in these care proceedings. The father said that the character reference did not say specifically that he could not use it in this case. It was put to him that the MP clearly did not know him very well, as he referred to him as a "decent man". The father replied that as far as the MP knows, he calls him a "decent man".
  424. As the Member of Parliament chose to put that reference on House of Commons headed notepaper, there is therefore a public interest in the Local Authority now writing to the MP to inform the MP, at my direction, of what has happened in respect of the use of this character reference, and what the father has said about it. The father has been dishonest with the court about it.
  425. A I:

  426. I then heard from A I, who confirmed her reports at E229 in respect of the father; E234 in respect of the mother; E239 in respect of the father; E246 in respect of the father; and S35 in respect of the mother. She confirmed that she is a clinical psychologist who is Urdu-speaking in addition to English. She treated the mother in Urdu, and also treated the father. She said that she did not consider that there was a conflict in treating both, because she is trained in couples' therapy, and was able to deal with them as individuals. She said that she was paid by the father and mother separately for each session.
  427. She had seen the original report of Dr B before meeting the parents. Her understanding of why the children were in care was that there was abuse and violence at home, and the father hit and shouted at the children occasionally. She described the mother as being scared of the legal system. She was depressive. She said that she gave assurances to the mother that she should know her rights. She said that if the mother was open and honest, then she could provide treatment for her. She needed to know what had happened, however, to help her. She said that she was not told of any allegations of sexual abuse or sexual activity until she read them in the mother's statements supplied to her the day before she gave her evidence.
  428. She described the mother being very upset in the last few sessions, but the mother had not told her of the sexual abuse. Overall, she had had 35 sessions with the mother over 12 months. She said that she gave her information about her ability to claim an injunction against the father, because she was fearful of her husband, and not very happy in the relationship. She said that she had a duty of care to her client.
  429. The mother described domination by her husband. The mother had not learned English in ten years of being in this country. She was not driving, and was basically living in the house. The therapist said that she felt that the mother needed empowerment. She said that the mother was not aware of the signs of abuse, and so the therapist gave her examples of that. She described her, when she first began work with the mother: she always had an awareness of physical chastisement not being acceptable. She had no sense of how to protect her children, and maintained that she herself had never hit the children.
  430. In my judgment, the mother told her lies. She now accepted that the relationship with the father was over, and the therapist felt that that was a big thing. She felt that the mother had become empowered, in that she can now look after her children. She is empowered to look after them, and make decisions. She had needed culturally-appropriate parenting work, which the therapist had covered with the mother; but she now needed coaching and reinforcement, and the therapist said that she could do that, over 25 to 30 sessions, with each session £50.
  431. She said that she was a therapist, and her role was not to investigate, just to listen. Her role was not to see if allegations have been established. She described how one of her roles was as a clinician, and another as a care worker, as she is there to support the mother. In terms of what she had read, other than the report of Dr B, she had received the day before she gave evidence: an update from Dr B; the father and mother's statements including the most recent; but she had not read any other documents.
  432. Those extra documents had been received the evening before she gave evidence, and therefore she had not had a chance to read them all. She had not met the children, and had not assessed their needs. She was unable to see if the mother could meet the needs of the children. She said that she was not qualified to assess parenting capability.
  433. She was asked about her criteria for measuring success. She said that she did that from her own observations of the person that she was treating. Do they, for example, look and sound better? Also, based on that whey are saying. There are also psychometric measures that she employed, dealing specifically with levels of depression and anxiety. She described how the mother's depression levels had dropped, but her anxiety has increased. She said that she had worked on the father's narcissistic traits. She had given him information and psychotherapy. She did not think that he qualified for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
  434. She said that the father accepted that he hit the children: A twice a week; B once a month; C, D, E and F occasionally. She described that the father said that he hit them with his hand, and it was not very forceful, and just describing a tapping on the shoulder. The father was lying to Ms I. He also said that he had hit B with a toy spoon, out of a play kitchen. She agreed with the suggestion that a foot-long spoon was not a play kitchen spoon.
  435. She had undertaken a lot of work with the father, some 39 sessions, and there were five or six sessions left. She described that he had engaged. She had assessed that he hit purely based on discipline, and not to cause harm. I am at a loss to understand how she could assess that with so little evidence. She had also gone through anger management with the father, and discussed previous traumatic events that he had suffered. She had established in sessions that the anger was due to trauma in the past.
  436. He was saying that he had never been aware before that he should not hit the children, and she described him as presenting as more calm and relaxed. She agreed with the suggestion that she relied heavily upon openness and honesty from the person that she was treating, as a lot is based on self-reporting. She expressed the view that the father has insight, because he accepts that what he has done in the past is wrong.
  437. In my judgment, the assessments of the parents by Ms I are unreliable, because they are based on false narratives. She said in evidence, "I have no doubt he [the father] is able to make all the possible changes, and he is willing to change". It is probably unwise to have no doubt. This witness really was of little assistance to the court.
  438. Dr B:

  439. I heard from Dr R B, who is a clinical psychologist. She confirmed her reports at E10; the joint assessments of the parents at E103; response to questions; and E270, a report on the father only. She had read the case papers. She confirmed that there had been no further assessment of the mother since July 2017.
  440. When she first met the mother, the mother maintained there had only been one incident, the wooden spoon incident, and that there was nothing to work on. Now, the mother was saying that there had been more physical chastisement, and was conceding that she had not protected the children. Whilst she was saying that she had separated from the father, the expert could not comment on how definitive the separation had been. Separation went against their culture.
  441. She was asked about paragraph 6.44 at E43. She said that she felt that the mother continued to mistrust the Local Authority. On the report on the children, the mother had talked of the Local Authority torturing her, however there had been some changes. As I have already said in my judgment, the mother has tried to separate from the father, but that is only in terms of physical separation, and she has not yet emotionally and psychologically; and that was demonstrated by her effective collusion.
  442. The expert said that she criticised the mother's ability to meet the emotional needs of the children, but there were positives. She was described as loving; noticing when the children were upset; giving praise. But the parenting assessment showed that she had not moved to the more complex needs of the children, and how to empathise with the children, and how they felt about the allegations of sexual abuse.
  443. The expert recognised that how far the mother had moved depends on the findings made by the court. If the court finds that she adopts the father's case, then that suggests that she continues to support the father over the children. She does. She was failing to prioritise the children's needs over those of the father. It would suggest that that was where her ultimate priority lies, she said. I agree with that assessment.
  444. She confirmed her view that it would have a significant impact on the children if they were telling the truth, and she did not accept it. The work that she identified for the mother was more generalised work on situational stress and depression; for the father it was to focus on his narcissistic traits, and to provide parenting work as well. Her experience of the father was that he was dilating his wrongdoing in putting himself first.
  445. When he did not agree, he would focus on detail, and be argumentative. She had also highlighted the learning difficulties of the mother, and in so saying, had not used standardised psychometric tests, because in the standardised testing, there is an underrepresentation of south Asian and Pakistani people.
  446. She accepted that it was possible that the mother operated on a higher level than she had suggested, and it was possible that she was faking in front of her, and performed less well for the expert than she had in court. The expert confirmed that the mother did not need an intermediary for the purposes of giving evidence. In her assessment of the mother, she had spoken in Urdu.
  447. At E26, paragraph 5.38, she stated:
  448. "Mother reported that she condemns the father's assault on B. She reported that it was unacceptable, and if she was aware that it had happened at the time, she would have called the police. She stated that the father had never been physically abusive before, to her knowledge, and described it as a one off incident. She described the children's love for their father, and that other than this incident, 'He's a good father', illustrating this by describing how at contact visits, they cling on to both their parents, and tell them that they love them. She does not accept that the children could both love and fear a parent, and that she believed that B did love her father, because it was an isolated occurrence."
  449. The expert said that the mother was extremely dismissive of fearing their father, but maintained that they loved him. At E27, paragraph 5.42, the expert stated, "When discussing certain subjects, e.g. assault on B, she would appear to avoid answering them, or answer generally, then go on to speak at length about how much the children love her". The expert said that the cause of her avoidance could be a combination of deliberate actions, difficulty with language, lack of insight, and loyalty to the father. Her impression at the time was that the mother did not want to talk about difficult experiences.
  450. At E30, paragraphs 5.48 and 5.49, the expert said:
  451. "In addition, following the first assessment session, the mother returned to the next session with extra information to questions that I had asked in the previous session that she had written down. The mother stated that she found it useful to write down notes to remind herself when she had been able to have some time to think about things, and reflect upon them. The mother was able to understand basic questions when asked in her native language of Urdu, and was able to express herself adequately through an interpreter. She showed an inability to attend to questioning for three hours at a time, and also an ability to notice the subtleties of questions asked of her, and interpret the potential implications of her answers."
  452. That, in my judgment, is an adequate description of the average witness, and in my judgment, the mother was at no disadvantage in giving evidence. The court had regular breaks at 45 minutes. She clearly showed an ability to answer questions with the aid of the interpreter; and demonstrated an ability to grasp questions and answer them in a way that demonstrated her understanding of them.
  453. At E33, paragraph 6.9, the expert said:
  454. "In my opinion, the cultural norm has a significant impact on the mother's psychological profile. Cultural norms within a Pakistani Muslim community include: following Islam; being a loyal and supportive wife; being submissive to her husband and other senior male figures in the community; and valuing the collective perspective rather than the individual's needs and views. In my opinion, these cultural norms underpin her core values and beliefs, and influence her interpretations and responses to her husband's behaviour; her view of her own behaviour; and influence her understanding of, and ability to, prioritise the emotional needs and views of the children."
  455. This, in my judgment, reveals a clear window into the mind of the mother and her motivations, and goes a long way to understand her actions, and the evidence that she has given. The expert said that the mother's loyalty to the father was significant and deep-rooted. It was part of her personality and who she is. In this case, there was definitely an expectation of loyalty from family and the community.
  456. At E34, paragraph 6.15, the expert said:
  457. "The mother reported loving her children and her husband, therefore in order to cognitively process her husband's assault on their child, she may have minimised or avoided considering the potential emotional impact of the assault on her children; justified the assault in forms of a single mistake; and defended against any responsibility for the difficulties in order to protect her view of herself as a good mother."
  458. That was based on a false narrative. In terms of what needed to happen as far as the mother was concerned, she needed an ability to emotionally connect with the children's experience. The separation from her husband needed to be permanent; and a new identity formed. That would be a massive step, and she would be completely recreating herself. That, in my judgment, is still some way off, if achievable.
  459. She recognised the following positives in the mother: at E35, paragraph 6.16:
  460. "On assessment, the mother demonstrated a friendly approachable manner, with a good sense of fun and humour. This positive outlook was also noted within contact sessions by observing professionals, who described her as physically loving towards the children, giving them kisses and hugs, playing with the children, praising them appropriately, and being concerned about their welfare.
    "She is described trying to foster an open relationship with the children, focussing upon direct communication with them, which was evident from her knowledge of her children, and their stages of life. These personality traits would enhance her ability to build attachments with her children, and care for their physical daily needs."
  461. In terms of further work for the mother, she said the mother would need six sessions of supportive provisional work with a psychologist, and 12 sessions of culturally-appropriate parenting work. Whilst the expert recognised that she had limited knowledge of Pakistani culture and Islam, she did have experience of working with south Asian and Muslim families. She recognised that cultural issues may have impacted on the assessment.
  462. She felt that the father had made some progress, and was markedly different in a most recent assessment. He had benefited from the work with A Irvan, and had been able to talk of his experiences of trauma in the past, and was more willing to accept criticism. The first time she assessed him, he would not even accept he got angry. His empathy was at a basic level, and he needed to develop that. He was able to remember all the information given, but she did not know if it would be applied regularly.
  463. In terms of risk to the children, he needed a greater understanding. Openness and honesty was key. To accept and have insight was painful, and may have negative consequences, and it was understandable if he might try to avoid it, but he had to go through that and come out the other side. If he was dishonest, then she did not feel that he had insight.
  464. At E320, paragraph 7.84, 7.85 and 7.86, the expert said:
  465. "What is clear is that the father can certainly provide appropriate physical care for all the children. He has been the sole carer at times when his wife has been ill, or pregnant, or away in Pakistan. There is no documentation to suggest that he was unable to take care of their physical needs; and indeed, when the children were younger, the Local Authority placed the father in charge of supervising his wife whilst she cared for the children. He has been a stable presence in the children's lives since they were born, and he is able to provide the practical parenting needs of routine, consistency, help with school work, cooking, household maintenance et cetera.
    "In terms of meeting the children's emotional needs, the father has made some good progress in his understanding of his anger, potential triggers for anger, anger management strategies, his understanding of emotions, empathising with his children's emotions, in particular to his physical chastisement, and has expressed regret and remorse. Furthermore, he has learned parenting strategies in order to help him to understand and respond positively to times when they misbehave. There is evidence of him putting the positive parenting strategies into practice in contact sessions, and being observed as often praising and encouraging his children for appropriate behaviour. Whether the allegations are true or not, his children love him, and have an attachment to him."
  466. Then, at paragraph 7.87 and 7.88, she said this:
  467. "However, there are concerns in the following areas: it remains unclear whether he is able to generalise the ability to connect emotionally and empathise with his children in situations where he is distressed or dysregulated. In addition, the two eldest children have alleged that the emotional abuse has continued within the contact sessions, where professionals are present. Therefore, this would suggest that the father would find it very difficult to refrain from discussing any allegations, be that directly or indirectly, within unsupervised contact.
    "In addition, the father has not had the opportunity to prove his ability to appropriately care for the children unsupervised, and so it is unclear whether these attitude changes have been translated into practical change when unsupervised, or if they could be sustained long-term. Should his account of physical chastisement be dishonest, then the aforementioned gains in therapy would not be sufficient to show meaningful change, given that he would not have addressed, acknowledged, gained insight into, or accepted, the impact of the full extent of his behaviour.
    "The father has previously been dishonest with professionals about his behaviour. This dishonesty makes it difficult to gauge whether he would now be able to openly approach the Local Authority or other professionals if or when he felt unable to cope. Given his mistrust of services in the past, this suggests that he may find it difficult to seek out help and support from them in the future."
  468. In my judgment, the father has been dishonest in dealing with, inter alia, physical chastisement. I agree with the suggestion made by the Guardian that the parents had demonstrated disguised compliance. The father in particular has demonstrated learned answers, rather than genuine insight and belief, and that is based on a bedrock of dishonesty.
  469. Dr P:

  470. I then heard from Dr P, the clinical psychologist. She was instructed to provide a psychological assessment of A, B, C, D, E and F. She has specialist experience and training in working cross-culturally with families from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. She also offered cultural consultation to Dr B in completing the psychological assessments of the mother and father, and support to consider the cultural issues pertinent to the assessment. She provided the reports at E114 and E324. She had considered all of the case papers.
  471. She began by describing each of the children: A had a complex history from the early beginning. She was the fourth child, the three eldest children having died. There were some issues when she was born. There were two periods of foster care, and the mother was not the main carer. In and around the foster care periods, the father was the main carer up to the age of 3. A has significant emotional difficulties. The key issue is her emotional presentation, which is varied. She has difficult attachment history as a result of her care in the early years. She has also suffered physical chastisement from the father, although the levels are still not clear.
  472. Her reports can differ. She has reported sexual abuse on a few occasions. She has experienced significant trauma, and she has not been able to disclose any of the trauma or the emotional impact until recently. She has only recently been able to acknowledge any of this. Her presentation is due to her bottling up, so with her, we see control in respect of her siblings, but also she is seen as compliant, keeping herself under the radar to keep safe. As a result, she has complex emotional difficulties, following on from the trauma, and being unable to talk to anyone about her experiences.
  473. Her needs for placement are a carer who can make her feel safe, and who can understand her trauma, and the impact on her emotional wellbeing, and also to parent her in the context of keeping her safe. She now attributes her difficulties to a belief that she is to blame, and that bad things happen to her because of something she has done. Therefore, the care that she needs is of an incredibly high standard.
  474. All of this is complicated by the fact that she has approached adolescence. This is a difficult time, where her identity is forming, and she is trying to make sense of the world around, and how she and others interact. To support her, the carer needs to be a very skilled carer.
  475. The expert said that she did not think that either parent could meet those needs. She recognised that the father does not put himself forward in any event. In terms of the mother, her concern was that after reassessing the mother, the mother talked of change that she experienced through the individual therapy. Fundamentally, there had been a change in understanding herself. However, when they met to talk about A and her difficulties, the expert was struck by the mother's inability to demonstrate a psychological understanding of A. For a carer to meet A's needs, the expert would want to see conversation around the impact of the early attachment history; her relationships with her parents; and some psychological understanding of the abuse of the father on her emotional presentation, both currently and into the future.
  476. The expert would want to see more understanding of the impact on the relationship with the mother, as the mother allowed it, again, now, and into the future. The expert would also want to see an understanding that the disclosures of A, which were denied by the mother and then later accepted, were highly significant for A, and the mother had shown little understanding of the impact of that on their relationship. There was also significant impact on the attachment with the mother. The majority of experiences for A through her life, were of the mother siding with the father as far as A was concerned. It was now highly unlikely that A would see the mother as somebody who could keep her safe.
  477. A was a young person needing a high level of care, but if returned to the parents, there would be the additional complexity that as a child she would expect that history would recur, and return to the state pre-foster care. So, her expectation would be that the mother would not keep her safe. In terms of her needs for therapy, having experienced trauma like she had, she first of all needs to be in a home where she feels safe, with a level of permanence that would not change.
  478. Once that is achieved, she would need some therapeutic work, which would be trauma-based intervention. The trauma had happened over a significant period of time, with different people. She would need to be able to talk about her feelings in a more functional way, whereas hitherto she had bottled up her emotions until she could no more.
  479. Whilst the mother recognised that A needed therapy, she did not really understand why. In terms of contact, if the court found that in June or July this year, she had tried to get the children to fall into line with the father's case, it raised incredibly significant concerns. It would highlight that the mother did not have the understanding of A, and the impact that it would have on her wellbeing. That would make future contact incredibly complex. I find that the mother did just that.
  480. In terms of the family as a whole, and the collectivist culture, family ties are very strong. A's ties to her family, and her mother and father, are incredibly strong, irrespective of her experience in their care. If we could be sure that the mother would not try to influence her in contact, then the expert would recommend contact into the future. If all ties were cut to her parents, then the expert thought that she would struggle.
  481. In terms of the father, the expert was critical of his controlling and directive behaviour in contact. The father too did not understand A's needs. If he could change his behaviour in contact, then some contact would be a beneficial thing. The expert said that this is a critical point for this family. Outcomes are being decided, so once a decision was made, one may then see a reduction in some of the behaviours of the father, although we may not.
  482. There was no work to be carried out with the father to achieve this. Following the 39 sessions of therapy, the father appeared to have moved from the pre-contemplative to the contemplative stage in terms of implementing change. He seemed to have made a shift in psychological understanding of the world around him, and the impact of the early history, and his behaviours of the past; and in terms of potential behaviours in the future. However, in terms of relating that to the children, the expert had not seen any change. The changes he had made in himself had not moved to the children.
  483. In my judgment, that is likely to be due to his disguised compliance; his lack of genuine insight and believe in what he is being taught; and his bedrock of dishonesty. In terms of what he was self-reporting, it could be that he was simply demonstrating learned responses, the expert said, or alternatively, the changes were incredibly small changes related to him, and he could not extrapolate that to others around him. For example, around the issue of sexual abuse, and non-disclosure, he was of the view that as the children did not disclose the sexual abuse to him, he could not do anything as a result.
  484. In terms of B, she was also complex. She had a different early history. She lived in Pakistan in the early years, when there was social care involvement with A. The expert's view was that B's main attachment figure in her early years was her grandmother. When she came to the United Kingdom, to her family, the three siblings, A, C and D, she was then a person who sat on the periphery of the family, on the outside looking in.
  485. As a result, her ties to the family were weaker than her siblings, and she challenged things at home. She had made disclosures over time, and is incredibly vulnerable. As a result, she made allegations, and retracted them. Her emotional needs were highly complex, and that was demonstrated by her behaviour. The mother again would be unable to meet her needs, for the same reasons as A, and in addition, B was likely to challenge her with her behaviour.
  486. Her therapeutic needs were the same as A, and her needs for contact are the same. The family ties dictate a low level of contact, and the number of contacts was arbitrary. What was important was that it was quality contact, and regular.
  487. C was very different to the older siblings. She is incredibly quiet and compliant. She is a classic middle child, who is forgotten in the family system. Her coping strategy was to be obedient, and not to challenge, to keep safe. Technically, she had no significant difficulties, but very much kept a lid on what has gone on. She needs to learn from her carers that it is okay to challenge, and if you challenge, abuse will not occur. She is the one who is most easily missed.
  488. Her placement needs are with carers who can understand and meet her needs. She has witnessed abuse, and experienced some concerns around inter-sibling sexual abuse. She needs a carer who is attuned and sensitive to her needs. It is not the mother. She cannot understand her needs. She sees her as a perfect child, who does not challenge and struggle. The need for therapy was unclear at present. Once the carers were meeting her needs, then she may need some therapy in the future.
  489. D is a very confident young person, with very difficult experiences. In the care of her parents she became unwell, and then her status was elevated. What we see with her is a young person who acts out behaviourally. She needs very firm boundaries, and needs to know where the limits are, and needs consistent rules and boundaries.
  490. Her placement needs are similar to C. She needs a carer who can meet her needs, although they are different to C's needs, and she needs to know that she does not need to act out to get her needs met. She needs a firm but empathetic carer. Once again, the expert said that she did not believe that the mother understood her needs, and was unlikely to need therapy in the future.
  491. E is an incredibly complex character in terms of his attachment style to the foster carer. He has an all-or-nothing approach to attachment. There had been some improvements in foster care, but it still exists. His concept of clinging to care arose as he did not know when the care would be removed. Furthermore, he had his father as a role model, and it was likely that as the only male, he was given a different status in the family. If he had seen how his father behaved, then that may explain his aggressive behaviour.
  492. He presented as an incredibly distressed young person. That was possibly due to the separation, or alternatively, he was a young person who is emotionally dysregulated and unable to self-soothe. His recent behaviour to the father in contact was a concern. He had been much more aggressive. This tied in with the more recent allegations of abuse by the father hitting him with a rolling pin.
  493. In terms of whether the mother could provide good enough care, his needs again were complex. The current foster carers are incredibly skilled, and worked very hard to get E to the place that he is now. He still has behavioural challenges which the mother cannot meet.
  494. F was described by the expert as a lovely girl who has done incredibly well in placement. She is able to form the most secure attachment as she had had the framework from a young age. She had low-level challenging behaviour. At this age, children do not act out to get their needs met. Where they did, that may be linked to trauma or just a developmental thing.
  495. On the issue of placement orders for E and F, the expert said that the foster carers proposed to carry on as foster carers, not adopters or Special Guardians. If E was moved from the current carers, then we would see a significant escalation of his difficulties across the board. He still does not have the fundamental attachment to his carers. He will take removal as rejection. He would express his emotional reaction through behaviour. That was not to say in the long term, or within months or years, an incredibly skilled carer could not manage the difficulties, and secure improvement with time. The best result would be to find carers who have the skillset that his current foster carers do.
  496. The expert observed E in the care of the foster carers in the initial assessment, and reassessed. These foster carers, she said, provide incredibly high level of care to both children. The expert said that she was very impressed. The proof of that is where we are now. He functions in a school environment, and is flourishing, and he is forming an attachment to his carers. His relationship with his sister is becoming much more positive. That is a testament to the quality of care.
  497. If the Local Authority were given permission to search for an adoptive placement, then the children would be made aware of that as the Local Authority would be carrying out some work about moving on. E would struggle with the uncertainty, and he would revert back to more difficult behaviours. He would cling more to the foster carer, and would seek reassurance. If he remained, despite the challenges, they would be worked through in the long term, but it would be a negative impact in the short term, with some risk to placement.
  498. When asked whether there was any evidential basis to separate the children, the expert said that E and F's relationship had strengthened, and if one looked at the family system, the lack of sibling relationship was as a result of the care received. There was no fundamental attachment to the parents which allowed them to, in turn, form positive relationships with each other. What one could see in the current placement, with their needs being met, was that the sibling relationship was improving, which was important for E and F. If there was a separation, their emotional wellbeing would be affected, E more than F due to his psychological profile.
  499. In the expert's opinion, there were two aspects to care for them: (1) that they should remain together; (2) that they should receive a high level of care, that they were currently receiving. If the option was that we could achieve both, then that should be the priority, and would be the optimal solution. In terms of the risk to the children of pursuing a placement order, she said that if a placement could be found with a skilled enough carer, and found for both of them, then there would be no long-term risk. If there was no match for them together, then E would struggle.
  500. Each child was the most consistent figure in the life of the other. Separation would give rise to a risk to the emotional wellbeing of both children, but particularly E. If adopters could meet both of the needs, and care for both together, then there would be no risk, she said. If they were separated, then the risks to E were very high in terms of his emotional wellbeing.
  501. Dr P said that she had read the three statements from the four people who said that they could provide support for the mother, however the issues for the mother were more fundamental. It was whether the mother could meet the emotional needs of the children. If she could, any additional support would be a great help. However, here she had not demonstrated a full understanding and ability to meet the emotional needs of the children, so support really was by the by.
  502. The evidence showed that the father, even after his therapy, was unable to extrapolate his own learning to meet the needs of the children. Therefore, he had either learned but could not apply it, or had not really learned what he thinks he learned. The progress reported on by A I relied on self-reporting, and her approach would be non-challenging. It was difficult when delivering therapy. The therapist had to rely on self-reporting, and rarely are decisions based on the outcome of therapy. In that sense, the court and therapy can clash, and not fit well. Most therapists take what the client is saying at face value.
  503. In dealing with the issue of future contact between the children and the parents, she said the emphasis for the children was on regularity of contact. It is crucial for the parents to accept and recognise the decision that the court makes. The decision must be in the children's best interests. The parents need an understanding of the children's wellbeing. The children need permanence and stability. Further applications by the parents in respect of the contact, and to discharge care orders, could destabilise the placements as it introduces uncertainty. The children would have to meet the professionals; they would get information; and it would create uncertainty and difficulty.
  504. In terms of placements for E and F, a separate placement should only be looked for where they could not be kept together. The expert described the position of the current foster carers as anomalous. They were highly committed, and their rationale for not applying for adoption for religious reasons made sense. The foster carers had skills, and presented an excellent option for the two children being cared for together in placement. Whilst adoption may be considered the best outcome, the expert said: really we need to think about the quality of care. So, if one can find an excellent adoption placement, then it is a great solution. If not, the current placement can be maintained as a long-term placement.
  505. The expert agreed with Mr Crabtree for the Local Authority that it was a sensible way forward to look at all options rather than closing them off. She said that what we want to do is give the children the best chance in the future. She had made it very clear that the children should stay together, and only if there was no placement together was it logical to consider separate placements. There would be short-term harm if moved from the current placement, balanced against the risk of placement not being permanent, or breaking down in years to come. It was clear that both placements, in long-term foster care and adoption, can break down. It then comes down to the commitment to the children of the carers. If they show long-term commitment, then there is no evidence to suggest that it is more likely that there will be a breakdown of the foster care placement as an adopted placement.
  506. The expert said that she had not done an assessment on the foster family, and the Local Authority would need to assess alongside adoption. At the moment, the current placement should be considered "very highly" as a long-term option, she said. The children are flourishing there, and their care needs are being met. There was a need for very clear thought and consideration of it as a long-term option. She felt that there was no harm widening the search to look at all options, and the expert agreed to provide her own input.
  507. She was asked by counsel for the mother about the impact of cultural issues on the case. She described the interface between individualistic cultures such as the UK, and collectivist cultures such as in Pakistan. She described the parenting styles in the UK as more authoritative with more compromise and more choice for children. However, in Pakistan the culture was more authoritarian with a head of the household. Individualistic cultures have choice and autonomy for children from a young age, where in collectivist there is more emphasis on children being obedient and compliant.
  508. Family honour, family shame has an important impact on status in the community, and as a result, things are often kept secret for fear of family standing in the community changing. The expert described how, in her view, this was not a sibling group that had bonded together. There is a general sense of one-upmanship, particularly amongst the older siblings. That was probably because their attachment needs had not been met.
  509. A had been looked after by the father in the early years. B had come to the UK when she was 3, and it was tricky for both girls. This was something more than sibling rivalry. B's difficult behaviour in foster care, for example, smearing faeces on towels; her wilful and poor attitude; pouring water on the floor; picking off gems from a picture frame of her sister; trying to open the car door whilst it was being driven: was because she had been allowed to speak out about her experiences. She had made disclosures that were very difficult in the context of a collectivist culture. She had also been told that she was not telling the truth by her parents. Smearing faeces was behaviour often linked to trauma, as were the attention-seeking behaviours of D. B's behaviour was her way of displaying distress.
  510. The expert did not agree with the suggestion that she might be carrying out instructions to misbehave, so she might return home. Whilst that might be an option, she said we have to understand holistically. Emotionally, she is of concern. She is upset and withdrawn. It was not right to label her as a split personality. She is a young person who has experienced trauma, and expresses it through behaviour. Her behaviour is linked to high levels of emotional distress.
  511. When asked about truth and lies, and the inconsistencies between A and B, the expert said that the concept of a lie is an interesting one. Different narratives at different times can be caused by children's anxiety. One should think about how memories are formed. When we remember, it is rarely perfect. We remember snapshots of a memory, and put bits in the middle to create the recollection. Traumatic memories are more prone to distortion, the reason for this is that when something difficult happens, our instinct is to block it out. We can also have intrusive thoughts, which are not accurate but intrusive. That is how difficult memories are processed, and are less accurate than the more positive memories as we try to recollect.
  512. What can also happen if we ask a child to recall memory again and again is that it can become tampered with as a result of retelling. Also, research tells us that if you have a memory, and someone tells you persistently that it is not true, that can make a child question the accuracy of the memory. So, different factors are behind different narratives.
  513. In my judgment, this provides a very good insight into why, in this case, there are inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the children's reported allegations, though in my judgment a holistic evaluation of the judgment reveals a core consistency.
  514. In terms of the level of contact, the expert felt the difference between three times per annum and six times per annum is not really an issue for the children; it is about having regular contact so that the children know when it will happen; and also that the parents are able to match the needs of the children during contact. Whether it is three times a year or six times a year for the children is arbitrary. It is obviously significant for the parents.
  515. In dealing with upset following separation from parents, the expert said that when children are removed from parents, it is incredibly distressing, whether it was a negative or positive level of care provided, as a child at that age does not understand that the care was not good enough. So, they experience it as a negative rejection from the parents, irrespective of the quality of care received.
  516. If placement for adoption in respect of E and F took place, the expert did not think it would be difficult, as over time they would come to terms with separation from their siblings, but it would be more difficult for the older siblings. It was incredibly difficult to answer what the impact on the children would be over their lives of adoption. In terms of separation from parents, it was possible to explain why adoption had taken place: because the parents are unable to care. However, it is more difficult to explain why they are separated from their siblings.
  517. Now, they were seeing children from a very early age taking their own steps through the internet to locate siblings. She felt that the older four children would struggle with their emotional wellbeing if they were told that they would have no contact with the younger two siblings, but the younger two would not be affected so much.
  518. The expert recognised that there were some positives in the care provided by the parents, otherwise one would have seen a more disorganised attachment rather than an insecure attachment. I too recognise the positives, as they have been carefully explored by Ms Howard and Mr Khan though the evidence, buttressed by the various photographs and cards and the like that I have seen, and been provided by the parents.
  519. In respect of contact, the expert said the school holidays were always good for contact, as there was less disruption to school commitments. Contact and pitching the right level was about allowing the children to build attachment to new carers. It was incredibly difficult to do that if there was regular contact with the parents. There was a need to recognise the new carers as the primary attachment figures. Whilst settling into new placements, the level of contact should not be pushed too much, at what will be a very difficult time.
  520. The Children's Guardian:

  521. I heard from P W, who is the Children's Guardian. He confirmed his reports at E238A, subject to one amendment; and E427. He confirmed that his opinion remained the same as that expressed in his final report. He said that neither parent is able to meet the needs of the children. He referred to the extensive schedule of findings relied upon by the Local Authority, and said that the case centred around issues of dishonesty. There were serious allegations of physical and emotional abuse, and it was clear to the Guardian that the father has significant issues around emotional regulation, and a parenting style that is harmful to children.
  522. Furthermore, the mother's inability to protect the children was underpinned by her vulnerability, isolation, limited cognitive ability, and cultural expectations. The mother had been subject to debilitating domestic abuse. Her failure to protect the children was significant, and her inability matched the scale of abuse. He agreed with the professional assessments that the mother cannot meet the needs of any of the children. Her lack of understanding given the level of intervention by Ms I was notable. The impact on the children was considerable, and the mother's response to that had not really changed.
  523. He felt that this was a case where the parents had demonstrated disguised compliance. The issue of dishonesty had continued to June and July this year. The Guardian felt that the dishonesty in this case was tangible. He referred to Dr P saying that the parents cannot extrapolate what they have learned to the children in contact. The Guardian said that in his view, the expert was alluding to how engrained the parents were in the way that they saw things. Whether it is cultural and/or personality-driven, the ability to change is really difficult for them.
  524. In terms of placement, he said he supported the Local Authority case in respect of the four older girls. In dealing with contact between the four older girls and the parents, he said what concerned him were the recent incidents and impact on the children and their psychological and emotional wellbeing. In respect of the mother passing secret messages, there was an impact on B again. Her behaviours had regressed and reappeared. If the mother did do that, and the father continued to be directive and controlling in contact, then contact should be irregular, but the focus on quality not quantum.
  525. In those circumstances, his recommendation would be in line with the Local Authority at three times per annum. Inter-sibling contact should take place between the older four children. There is a need to build the relationships between the siblings, and in particular A and B. Permanence would help with that process, and the contact should be as frequent as possible.
  526. In dealing with E and F, he said that the two children were exhibiting significant emotional distress at the foster carer's. F was very displaced when placed, and was headbutting walls and grabbing her hair. She displayed temper tantrums that could last as much as two hours. She could not be comforted. E was very aggressive, and it was very difficult for the female foster carer to build a relationship. He was very aligned to his father. He was aggressive to his sisters at contact.
  527. Overall, it was clear that there were a lot of behavioural and emotional issues for the two children. The assessment that E had an all-or-nothing investment in attachment demonstrated a high level of attachment difficulty. Proceedings had gone on for a long time, which had given an opportunity for a greater understanding of him. It had been exhausting for the female foster carer, but she had enabled a greater understanding of his psychological and cognitive development. They have now been approved as long-term foster carers by their agency, and approval given by the agency decision-maker.
  528. In terms of the inter-sibling relationship, because of the parenting received, they have had a difficult relationship, but now, following the different style of parenting from the foster carers, E was more aware of his responsibility as an older sibling.
  529. In terms of the realistic options for placement of the younger two children, the Guardian said that it was adoption or long-term foster care. The quality of care given by the foster carers had given an opportunity to assess them. It was very rare that that opportunity arose in court proceedings, and it had demonstrated a positive change in the children, and integration into the foster carers' family. What could be said without a written assessment of the foster carers was that they have, and will continue to, meet the needs of the children. It was a compelling option for the children in the view of the Guardian. It was working, demonstrated by the children's development.
  530. In looking at a pros and cons analysis, the Guardian said that adoption offered the sense of permanence; a change in identity; investment into the children for a lifetime, and not just childhood; and the risk of breakdown was less. Foster care was more susceptible to breakdown, although in looking at this foster placement, the children had been there for 16 months. The foster carers were able to meet their cultural and religious needs. They understood E's difficulties, and his social and emotional needs, and the difficulties around his emotional regulation. Their commitment to the children was quite tangible. They are so committed, and have derived so much enjoyment from caring for the children. The children have become integrated into the foster carers' family.
  531. The Guardian said that their commitment was long-term. They did not want to pursue adoption, because they were concerned about interference with the family's name and taking it away from the children, and had taken advice from people in the community, and were clear that adoption was not for them. Special Guardianship may be revisited further down the line.
  532. The Guardian said his recommendation was that the idea of trying to prepare E for another family would have a devastating impact. He had been on a journey. He had observed the level of abuse, and he has behavioural, social, psychological, emotional and cognitive issues. The idea of preparing him for adoption over a period of six months would have a devastating effect: affect his behaviour; he would demonstrate regressive behaviour; and it could undermine the placement. There was uncertainty, and it was unlikely that they would get a match.
  533. The Guardian said he had asked the Local Authority for data in January in order to assess the prospects of a placement match. His view was there was a reduced prospective pool of adopters here, and with a time-limited search; his special educational needs; his abusive childhood; his very strong memories of physical abuse; his observations of physical and emotional abuse; his complex attachment style: he could not support that possibility.
  534. He felt that there would be an impact, short and long-term, of being separated from siblings. Overall, he felt that a placement order would be a gamble. If the two younger children remained in their current placement, then there should be contact with their siblings. If they were put into an adoptive placement, then an open adoption should be explored.
  535. He agreed with the suggestion that the children were adoptable. He had no criticism of the Local Authority plan, and recognised the dilemmas in the care plan. He too accepted that it was finely balanced. He said that the foster carers had had assessments before, and all professionals had not identified any welfare issues of the placement.
  536. The 16-month period had offered a compelling assessment of their ability to meet the children's needs. He agreed that respite care should not form part of the care plan. In terms of the intervention in the children's lives, and the general intrusion of a care order, he felt that social work should always be about the least interventionist action. Going into school, health reviews, personal educational plans: should not affect younger children at all. It was as they grew older, and had to explain why they were looked-after children, and did not live with their parents, that it became intrusive and difficult.
  537. He said trust was a fundamental building block for child development. Any move for E would have a significant impact on his ability to trust. What is crucial is stability, and with the long-term foster care option, he said he hoped that the intervention would be minimal. He accepted, however, that social workers have statutory responsibilities that they cannot ignore. Furthermore, parental responsibility would be shared with the parents. Parents do not always exercise parental responsibility responsibly. If they did not, then there was a bureaucratic structure in relation to decision-making.
  538. He said that the reason behind his recommendation for long-term foster care for both was that E is a complex young boy; he has additional needs; he struggles with emotional regulation; he pursues control; he has behavioural and emotional issues that cause concern; and he believes that the idea of separation from the foster carers would have a long-term effect. It is uncertain, but his view was that any further separation would have a difficult and compound effect on his wellbeing. Whilst the idea of statutory duties was there for all to see, it depended in practice how they were effected.
  539. He said that a placement order was not worth the risk. The children need permanence, and tracking in the manner suggested by the Local Authority would add to uncertainty. There would be a significant effect on E's trust; his all-or-nothing approach to attachments, which is unusual. Preparing him for another move with no certainty of matching, risked undermining the placement. If he realised he could be moved on again, there would be a significant impact, and a predictable change in his behaviour. The damage to his trust and the attachment forming would jeopardise the success of any future adoptive placement in any event, meaning he could effectively be left in no man's land. My phrase, not his.
  540. Findings on threshold; legal principles:

  541. I am grateful for the assistance with the law from counsel. The following legal principles which I have taken into account in making all of the findings in this judgment can be distilled as thus: the burden of proof lies at all times with the Local Authority. The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities. Findings of fact in these cases must be based on evidence, including inferences that can properly be drawn from the evidence, and not on suspicion or speculation. Suspicion is not enough, nor is surmise, speculation, or assertion. The question is whether in relation to each discrete part of its case, the Local Authority had established on a balance of probabilities, applying that concept with common sense, the proposition for which it contends.
  542. When considering cases of suspected child abuse, the court must take into account all the evidence; and furthermore, consider each piece of evidence in the context of all of the other evidence. The court invariably surveys a wide canvas. A judge in these difficult cases must have regard to the relevance of each piece of evidence to other evidence, and to exercise an overview of the totality of the evidence in order to come to the conclusion whether the case put forward by the Local Authority has been made out to the appropriate standard of proof.
  543. Whilst appropriate attention must be paid to the opinion of experts, those opinions need to be considered in the context of all the other evidence. It is important to remember that the roles of the court and the expert are distinct, and it is the court that is in the position to weigh up the expert evidence against its findings on the other evidence. It is the judge who makes the final decision.
  544. The court must be careful to ensure that each expert keeps within the bounds of their own expertise, and defers, where appropriate, to the expertise of others. The evidence of the parents and any other carers is of the utmost importance. It is essential that the court forms a clear assessment of their credibility and reliability.
  545. It is common for witnesses in these cases to tell lies in the course of the investigation, and the hearing. The court must be careful to bear in mind that a witness may lie for many reasons, such as shame, misplaced loyalty, panic, fear, and distress; and the fact that a witness has lied about some matters does not mean that he or she has lied about everything. Judges should therefore take care to ensure that they do not rely upon a conclusion that an individual has lied on a material issue as direct proof of guilt.
  546. To be capable of amounting to corroboration, the lie told out of court must be, first of all, deliberate; secondly, it must relate to a material issue; thirdly, the motive for the lie must be a realisation of guilt, and the fear of the truth.
  547. In this country, we do not require documentary proof. We rely heavily on oral evidence, especially from those who were present when the alleged events took place. Day after day, up and down the country, on issues large and small, judges are making up their minds whom to believe. They are guided by many things, including the inherent probabilities; any contemporaneous documentation or records; any circumstantial evidence tending to support one account rather than the other; and their overall impression of the characters and motivations of the witnesses.
  548. The task is a difficult one. It must be performed without prejudice and preconceived ideas. But it is the task which we are paid to perform to the best of our ability. In the legal system, if a judge finds it more likely than not that something did take place, then it is treated as having taken place. If he finds it more likely than not that it did not take place, then it is treated as not having taken place.
  549. My findings in respect of the Local Authority schedule:

  550. At the time of the issuing of the section 31 application for care orders in respect of the six children, A, B, C, D, E, F, the children and each of them, having considered the evidence in each case individually, were suffering, and were likely to suffer significant harm. Insofar as the findings postdate the relevant date, they are an indication and/or proof of the state of affairs at the date of intervention.
  551. On 17 April 2017, the father pleaded guilty to an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The victim of that assault was B, his daughter. The father struck her on the right thigh with a wooden spoon. The force of his blow to the thigh was such as to cause significant bruising; and the blows were of such magnitude to cause the wooden spoon to break. Thereafter, he hit her with his hand.
  552. He was, on 24 April 2017, sentenced to a suspended prison sentence; a community rehabilitation order; and to unpaid work for that offence. When the father assaulted B: A, C and D were in sight. They all saw and heard what the father was doing. He continued regardless. B was physically and emotionally harmed by the attack. The severity of the beating was wholly disproportionate as a means of discipline. The father was in a rage, hence the ferocity of the attack.
  553. Children's Services learned of the attack as a result of B disclosing it to a teacher, and thereafter to a social worker, and to her headteacher. She did so because she feared a report from her school to her mother and father would result in her being assaulted again. The father initially denied any wrongdoing to the headteacher and social worker. He lied to them as to how, and in what circumstances, she had come by her injuries. He also lied to social workers, and in his eventual interview with the police.
  554. He tried to make out that B was a liar, and an unreliable witness, to save himself from the authorities, and the shame of his own wrongdoing. The father's efforts to save himself also involved the mother. In the aftermath of B's disclosure, they concocted a false account which placed her out of the home at the time of the assault, and also one which attempted to explain away how and why B had come by bruising to her leg.
  555. The mother also sought to portray the father as a kind, loving father who would never do such a thing to hurt one of his children, when she knew he had assaulted B just as B said. Her level of deception is indistinguishable from that of the father in this regard. Both the parents were and are content to suggest that their children are lying, and liars, in order to cover up the serious and significant deficits in their parenting.
  556. The trip to Pakistan:

  557. During the early process of investigating B's allegations, that she had been assaulted by her father, the mother and the father agreed to a working agreement that he would move out of the family home, and not return until matters became clearer to the social workers. The mother would care for the children alone, and any contact that father had with any of the children would be supervised by the Local Authority. In breach of that agreement, the father travelled to Pakistan with the mother and the children on 20 March 2017.
  558. Whilst at the airport, the mother permitted the father to assist her in the care of the children, and both she and he acted in breach of the working agreement they had signed only days before. She did so again when they arrived in transit in Istanbul, and both she and he acted in further breach of the working agreement. She did this again when they arrived in Pakistan, and thus both she and he acted again in breach of the working agreements.
  559. In addition, the father attended the family home in the early hours of the day prior to the trip to Pakistan, and the mother permitted him entry. That too was in breach of the working agreements they had signed. The father specifically told A that he had come in the early hours of the morning so he would not be seen. He also told her that they were travelling to Pakistan. When she asked him about the duration of the visit, he told her it could be for a few weeks or until the children were 18.
  560. The decision to travel to Pakistan was to remove the children from the jurisdiction, and also to enable the unborn child to be born in Pakistan, out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The mother and father left without telling any of the professionals, despite having every opportunity to do so. The father had contact on the day before the family travelled to Pakistan. At the time he was aware of the imminent trip to Pakistan. Both the mother and father chose to say nothing.
  561. Whilst in Pakistan, the father spoke to Ms F at St B on the morning of 20 March 2017. He told her of the trip to Pakistan. When she enquired, the father told her that the children would only be returned if things were okay in the UK. He said in connection with the assault on B, that he was being treated as a criminal, like a murderer. He said that if things were not okay in the UK, then the children would not be returning, and only he would return. He specifically said to her that he was afraid the children would be removed from his wife's care if the children returned, and that was the reason why they had gone to Pakistan.
  562. A week later, the father spoke to CC. He told her that he was returning to the UK. He told her that the mother would only return with the children if everything would be okay for them, and otherwise they would stay in Pakistan. He then added he would return on 1 April 2017, but was unsure if the mother and the children would also return. The father was attempting to negotiate what he regarded as safe passage back to the UK for himself and his family, without further or minimal interference or involvement from the Local Authority.
  563. When he returned to England on 1 April 2017, and was arrested and interviewed, he told the police in interview that so long as the Local Authority intended to remove the children, they would remain in Pakistan with the mother. He also told RM that the children would have returned on 1 April 2017 had the mother been well enough, but added that she might be able to travel back with the children on Monday, 3 April 2017, but would not do so if the Local Authority intended to remove the children from his or her care.
  564. He added that the mother would be applying for sole custody in Pakistan, and said again that the children would not be returned if the intention was to remove them, and he refused to provide an address for them in Pakistan. In the period between 18 March 2017 and 1 April 2017, and beyond, and despite her having agreed to cooperate and communicate with the Local Authority, the mother made no contact whatsoever with Children's Services in the UK. She left, and was content to leave, the talking, bidding and negotiation to the father.
  565. Whilst in Pakistan, the mother took the children from Islamabad to Karachi. The reason for the trip was to make it as difficult as possible for the authorities to find her and the children's whereabouts. During the time that the children were with her, she showed her displeasure to B of her disclosing the fact that she had been beaten, by beating her. She was beaten for trivial things, such as getting her scarf dirty. The father returned to the UK on 1 April 2017. The mother and the children did not. G remains alone in Pakistan.
  566. Other physical abuse: the father:

  567. What happened to B is symptomatic of the widespread physical abuse perpetrated by the father upon A, B, C and D. The children were regularly beaten, and physically abused by the father. He would beat A and B at least once per week, sometimes more; C and D less regularly, but still monthly, sometimes more; and he has beaten E.
  568. The father would beat them, punch them, slap them around the head and body, kick them, pull their hair, and hit them with weapons. He would also grab them by the throat, and lift them partially from the floor. His weapons of choice were a mobile telephone charger, and a wooden kitchen spoon. He would use significant force, and would sometimes leave marks or bruises. He would also shout at them in a loud voice, and frighten them. He has also threatened to cut A up, and put her in the bin.
  569. The beatings went way beyond reasonable physical chastisement, and was wholly disproportionate to anything that the children had done that could be classed as misbehaviour. He would beat them for things such as being disturbed when he was reading or sleeping; if he perceived that they were not trying hard enough to read or understand the Koran.
  570. The admissions recorded against him on 19 December 2017 were truthful, in the sense that they revealed the minimum that he would do. These were not false admissions, and he was not misled or duped or cajoled into saying something that was inaccurate or untruthful.
  571. Examples of his wrongdoing are: 2014, he was shouting at the children all the time, and A was kept off school as her father had injured her arm; around the same time the father was seen dragging her up the school path; in March 2015 he hit B with a mobile telephone charger cable; in December 2016 he hit A with a mobile phone charger, which caused a curved, red, raised line to her forearm. That was not a mark that was caused by him pulling the wire off her forearm.
  572. Mother's failure to protect:

  573. The mother knew of the father's physical, verbal and emotional abuse of the children. More often than not, she was present at home when he abused them. The regularity and scale of the beatings makes that much more likely than not. On many occasions, she tried unsuccessfully to protect them when they would hide behind her so as to escape their father's wrath. More often than not, she failed.
  574. She was unable to prevent the widescale and longstanding physical, verbal and emotional abuse of the children. When such abuse has been investigated, including within these proceedings, she has lied and covered up what she knew to be true by claiming that the father was a good man, a good husband, and a good father. She knew full well that he was nothing of the sort.
  575. It was not until December 2017, and in later non-molestation proceedings, that she began to paint a true picture of the abusive nature of her husband as a husband and father. Only then did she say that the father had been continually abusive towards her since 2004 which left her isolated, lonely, depressed, and dependent on the father. Her failure to take more effective action to protect the children meant that they suffered while she stood by and failed over several years.
  576. Other physical abuse: the mother:

  577. The mother would also hit, slap, pull the children's hair, hit them with a hairbrush and other items, and put chillies in their mouths as a punishment. Her propensity to use violence is demonstrated by what she did to B in Pakistan. Like the father, she regards physical chastisement as a parental right, rather than abuse. The scale of her physical abuse was much less than the father's. As a result, the focus of the children's fear and reporting of abuse has been on the father, but reports have emerged of physical abuse by the mother, albeit that she attempted to protect the children from the worst excesses of the father's abuse by shielding the children.
  578. The children have been assaulted and beaten by both the mother and father, despite work having been done with both as to why it is wrong and abusive. At the conclusion of such work, they have each indicated an acceptance that it is wrong to physically assault their children, but gone on to do it again.
  579. Emotional abuse:

  580. Although the physical abuse involved includes an element of emotional abuse, both the mother and father have emotionally abused A and B during contact. Both have taken it upon themselves to undermine the children's placements by using contact time to issue orders to the children as to what they should do and not do, and say and not say, in and about their foster placement. The father also telephoned, and sent messages to A, when he knew he was forbidden to do so.
  581. Such was A's distress and frustration that in July 2017 she attempted to take her own life by hanging herself from a light in the bedroom. The pressure from the father was the proximate cause in that. She did so as a direct result and consequence of the father contacting her, and placing her under intolerable pressure.
  582. The account given by the father as to why he made what he said were a limited number of calls is a fabrication. His real motivation was clear, and it was to destabilise the older children's placement, and to provide him with fabricated evidence which he could use to suggest to the court that the older children were so unhappy, and the placements so poor, that they should, and needed to, return home. Had he not been discovered, he would have continued to do so, despite the upset and distress he was causing the children.
  583. The mother also whispered instructions to the children in contact, and tapped them on the leg to make it known to them what her expectations were. Those taps were not some innocent gesture to show her children her affection, but a means of communicating to them what she wanted, and expected of them.
  584. Despite her giving an undertaking to the court that she would not do so, between 29 June 2018 and 11 July 2018, the mother spoke directly to both A and B about the issues in the case. In respect of any potential breach of the undertaking, I propose to take no further action.
  585. On 27 June 2018, she told B that she should not say that the father hit her with wires, but only slapped her, which the mother tried to prevent. The mother told her that she could not tell anyone as it was a big secret, and if she told people, contact would be stopped.
  586. On 4 July 2018, the mother instructed B to behave badly in her foster placement, so that she would be moved and sent to her mother's house. Subsequent to that instruction, B was defensive and challenging in her foster placement, and would not listen to her carers. She demonstrated regressive behaviour. A, who has contact with her mother separately from B, was told similar things by her mother.
  587. Allegations of sexual abuse against H:

  588. A, B and C have alleged to police that they have been sexually abused by a teenager called H. The allegations were of serious sexual abuse. A told her mother of the allegations of abuse, and she told the father. The father responded by hitting A for allowing it to happen to her.
  589. Neither the mother nor the father provided to them the support and nurturing that they needed. The allegations were swept under the carpet as a family secret to prevent what they perceived to be shame being brought on the family. They did not seek to understand what had happened.
  590. Inter-sibling sexual contact:

  591. There have been instances of sexual behaviour amongst some of the older children, which are documented in police interviews. The court does not need to decide who did exactly what, when and to whom. The mother and father have failed to provide adequate guidance and boundaries to prevent such  behaviour, and have provided inadequate sleeping arrangements.
  592. Forced marriage:

  593. A, B and C have spoken about their fear that they will be forced to marry against their will. The mother was married to the father at the age of 15. They are cousins. Their fathers are brothers. The father's intentions are that the girls should marry, at a similar age, older cousins in Pakistan. It is likely that the older girls are formally, or informally, betrothed to cousins already.
  594. G:

  595. He was left alone in Pakistan when the mother returned to the UK with the children. The mother's decision to leave him is consistent with previous actions. In 2005 there were court proceedings in relation to A. During those proceedings, the mother became pregnant with B. During those proceedings, and on the pretext of doing so urgently, when a relative was ill, she travelled to Pakistan in the late stages of her pregnancy. During those proceedings, and on that trip, she gave birth to a child in Pakistan. When the mother returned to the UK, B did not.
  596. Despite the mother having already lost three children, and having A in her care, she left B in Pakistan. She was not brought to the UK until the care proceedings in relation to A were concluded, and she had been placed in the mother's and father's care. The timing of her arrival in 2010 was no accident, but was timed by the parents to be at a point in time at which there was no real prospect that she would be removed from their care.
  597. History has repeated itself in relation to G. There has been a family conspiracy to leave him in Pakistan, away from social service involvement, and out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
  598. The parental relationship:

  599. The mother says her relationship with the father has ended. The father's position is far more ambiguous, and even in April 2018, he wrote to the court proposing that the children return to the joint care of the mother and himself, or an arrangement where they would remain a couple, but he would live elsewhere, so that she could care for the children.
  600. Whilst the mother has taken some steps to separate from the father, and lives physically separate from him, she has been unable to extricate herself from the relationship either emotionally or psychologically. That is due in part to the collectivist culture, but mainly to the controlling, domineering, directive and narcissistic personality of the father; and the mother's vulnerability to it.
  601. Evidence of that has been her willingness to collude with the father in an attempt to minimise his wrongdoing; minimise her wrongdoing; and to try to bolster dishonestly their case. The dishonesty of the mother and father has been on an almost industrial scale. They simply cannot be trusted. I agree with the Children's Guardian that this is a case of disguised compliance in terms of their approach to physical chastisement, and what they have learned. There is no genuine belief in it. They are learned responses.
  602. They have shown time and time again their inability to put the needs of their children before their own, and are unable to extrapolate what they have learned to meeting the needs of the children in the future.
  603. Welfare:

  604. The mother's case is that she wishes to have the children back to live with her, or if not all of them, then at least some of them. The father rules himself out as a future carer which, in my judgment, is entirely realistic. He simply could not be considered as somebody who could provide good enough, safe enough, care for any of his children. Neither of them seek to argue that the threshold is not met in this case. Each concede that if any or all of the children were returned to the care of the mother, that would have got be under the auspices of a care order.
  605. There are no suitable friends or family carers who could provide alternative care. The position of the Local Authority and the Children's Guardian is that A, B, C and D should be placed in long-term foster care pursuant to care orders in each case.
  606. Being satisfied in respect of the four older children that the section 31 threshold is met for the making of a care order, my attention turns to section 1 of the Children Act 1989. I remind myself that each child's welfare is my paramount consideration. I also remind myself that any delay in determining any question with respect to the upbringing of each child is likely to be prejudicial to their welfare. There will be no further delay.
  607. In terms of their ascertainable wishes and feelings, I am satisfied that the children love their parents, and their parents love them. If asked, it is likely that B, C and D would ask to live with their mother. A is at best ambivalent.
  608. In terms of their physical, emotional and educational needs, they have all suffered physical and emotional harm, and now need a permanent home where they can be safe from physical and emotional abuse, and where they can receive appropriate education and guidance on the boundaries relating to appropriate sexual activity. Also where their individual and specific needs, to include any therapeutic needs as identified by Dr P in her evidence, can be met.
  609. As she has said, that will require an incredibly high level of care and, in my judgment, the mother is unable to provide good enough care and safe enough care, and to meet their individual needs. The foster carers for C and D have, as I understand it, indicated a long-term commitment to the children, and in those circumstances, it may be possible to avoid any change in placement for them. It is likely that new placements will need to be found for the two older children.
  610. Unfortunately, in this case, and following on from the findings that I made earlier in this judgment, if the children or any of them were returned to the care of the mother, then they would be at risk of suffering further significant harm and, in my judgment, their emotional needs would not be met. I am not satisfied that the mother has fully extricated herself from the relationship with the father, and remains emotionally and psychologically linked. In those circumstances, there would also be a risk of significant physical harm.
  611. Sadly, in this case, the parents are not capable of meeting the needs of the children, and in the absence of alternative friends and family carers, I am driven to the view that care orders in respect of each of A, B, C and D are necessary and proportionate. In terms of the permanence provisions of the care planning in respect of each child, I have considered them, and approve them.
  612. Whilst the Local Authority plan for contact three times per annum is far less than the parents wish for, in light of my findings, the Children's Guardian supports the Local Authority's position. I agree with the view of Dr P that in a case like this, contact will be about regularity and quality rather than quantum. That of course is from the children's perspective, rather than the parents, who understandably want as much contact as possible.
  613. However, I agree with the argument that what is important for these children now is placement, and establishing a permanent placement so that the children can put down stable roots that enable them to develop attachment with their carers. At present, the children do not have that.
  614. It is also significant, in my judgment, that I have found that the parents have, even up to July this year in the case of the mother, sought to influence the children's behaviour in an attempt to destabilise their placements, and affect the information that they pass on to professionals; and at that stage, potentially to the court as Re W applications were being considered.
  615. In those circumstances, in my judgment, the higher the level of contact, the greater the risk of them seeking to destabilise the placements. I appreciate that the children love their parents, and at times will have enjoyed seeing them. I also recognise the parents' commitment to contact, when it has been allowed. The father, looking at recent contact records, persists in controlling and directive behaviour, for example, in directing A to talk about religion and marriage to cousins, notwithstanding her desire to move the conversation away from those subjects.
  616. The quality of the mother's contact, absent her attempts to influence the children's behaviour, has improved over time. However, it is a balancing exercise, and having considered all of the factors, I approve of the Local Authority's plan to limit contact to three times per annum. It will still be meaningful contact for the children. The parents should know, however, that any further attempts to undermine placements, or to pass on secret messages to the children, will probably result in a reconsideration of whether contact with the parents is in the children's best interests.
  617. The position of the Local Authority in respect of E and F is that there should be a twin-tracked approach for the next six months, in that further assessment should be conducted in respect of the current foster carers, with whom the children have lived for 16 months, and who on any view have provided exceptionally good care for the children; but also there should be a placement order which would enable the Local Authority to look for suitable adoptive matches for the children, together; and then a decision taken at no less than six months as to which is the placement that best meets their needs.
  618. The Local Authority have abandoned their initial stance, which was to seek a wider search for separate placements after three months, having heard the evidence of Dr P.
  619. The Children's Guardian is opposed to a placement order on the basis that even though the order is made as a permissive order, the simple fact of a search for prospective adoptive placements, which will mean that preparatory work has to be done with the children, and in particular E, for moving on: that will undermine his trust in his attachment to the foster carers, and undo the excellent work carried out hitherto by the foster carers, and lead to regressive behaviour. In undermining his trust in his attachment to the foster carer, that in the view of the Children's Guardian will damage the vital building blocks that will enable him to form proper attachments to his permanent carers. The simple act of the preparatory work will be damaging, and put at risk the current foster care placement.
  620. When set against the very limited pool of potential adopters, the Guardian feels that it is too big a gamble to jeopardise the foster placement where the prospects for success of finding a suitable adoptive placement are so small. Furthermore, the simple act of moving him into another placement will likely cause irreparable damage to his ability to form attachments, and could therefore bring an end to the current placement, and there is a high risk that the future adoptive placement would fail in any event.
  621. The Children's Guardian's view of the foster carers is that they have worked very hard, and the children are flourishing in the current placement; and particularly as E has an all-or-nothing attachment forming approach, whilst a clear negative is the intrusion and intervention that a care order and long-term foster placement would bring, it is a price worth paying.
  622. The view of the Local Authority is that there would be short-term harm caused by the preparatory work, that could be overcome, which was the view of Dr P, and it may reveal an adoptive placement where the cultural and emotional needs of the children could be met; and a sufficiently high level of care provided with the added security of an adoption, rather than long-term foster care. That would avoid the level of intrusion and intervention in the children's lives that the care order would bring. The placement order would not mean that the Local Authority has to place for adoption, but simply that they could carry out the search, and then reach a decision with the benefit of Dr P's input as to which was the placement best suited to these children.
  623. As this is an adoption question, I move directly to section 1 of the Adoption & Children Act 2002, the superior test to section 1 of the Children Act 1989. I remind myself that when coming to a decision relating to the adoption of a child, my paramount consideration must be the child's welfare throughout their life. I also remind myself that any delay in coming to the decision is likely to prejudice a child's welfare. I also have regard to the checklist set out in section 1(4) in relation to each child.
  624. I must have regard to the following matters, amongst others:
  625. "(a) the child's ascertainable wishes and feelings regarding the decision considered in the light of the child's age and understanding; (b) the child's particular needs; (c) the likely effect on the child throughout his life of having ceased to be a member of the original family and become an adopted person; (d) the child's age, sex, background and any of the child's characteristics which the court considers relevant; (e) any harm within the meaning of the Children Act 1989, which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
    (f) the relationship which the child has with relatives and with any other person in relation to whom the court considers the relationship to be relevant including (i) the likelihood of any such relationship continuing, and the value to the child of its doing so; (ii) the ability and willingness of any of the child's relatives or of any such person to provide the child with a secure environment in which the child can develop, and otherwise to meet the child's needs; (iii) the wishes and feelings of any of the child's relatives, or of any such person regarding the child."
  626. I have also had regard to section 1(6) in coming to a decision:
  627. "Relating to the adoption of a child, the court must always consider the whole range of powers available to it in the child's case whether under this act or the Children Act 1989, and the court must not make any order under this act unless it considers that making the order would be better for the child than not doing so."
  628. I have found this a difficult issue to resolve. Both the social worker and the Children's Guardian accept that the issue is finely balanced. It is certainly that. There are undoubtedly pros and cons with each approach. I have set those out in my analysis of the evidence earlier, and also in setting out the competing views on this issue. Adoption obviously carries with it a commitment for life rather than childhood; the legal ties to the birth family are extinguished and intended to be so for all time.
  629. The original parents' parental responsibility is extinguished. The cut-off from family of origin may have a potentially damaging impact on the child's sense of identity and emotional wellbeing. Becoming an adopted person provides for the child a permanent substitute family where the adopters are legally responsible, and therefore fully committed, to fulfilling their parental responsibilities.
  630. In focussing upon the likely effect on each of the children of these changes, I focus on the degree of interference with the child's Article 8 rights to family life that would be consequent upon an adoption, but balance that against the family life that the child could enjoy with an adoptive family. In identifying where the children's best interests lie, I have to bear in mind two considerations:
  631. First, it is in the child's best interests that ties with family be maintained, except in cases where the family has proved particularly unfit. Here, sadly, the parents are unable to provide good enough, safe enough, care, but have the ability, if they choose to use it, to make contact a positive experience for their children.
  632. Second, it's in the child's best interests to ensure that development takes place in a safe and secure environment. I have to give consideration to the value to each child of a continuing relationship with relatives, and any other person who is important to the child. I also have to consider the wishes and feelings of those relatives. I should give particular importance to the relationships between siblings, and any skewing of family relationships must be considered.
  633. With long-term foster care, the birth parents' parental responsibilities are not extinguished, and my attention has been drawn to the delegated authority decision support tool, which highlights the potential impact of that. The level of intervention and intrusion into the lives of the children has also been considered.
  634. I have considered the emotional and behaviour difficulties of the two children when they first came into foster care. F demonstrated considerable emotional distress, and behavioural difficulties. On one occasion, she was crying to the extent that the foster carer became scared. She was banging her head against the cot, and pulling her hair. She could not be physically comforted, and temper tantrums sometimes lasted two hours. She would often slap herself when she became angry or frustrated.
  635. In foster care, her behaviour and social presentation has improved, and it is likely to be due to the quality of care afforded in a lengthy foster care placement. She continues to exhibit attachment difficulties, most notably attention-seeking behaviour characterised by whining and moaning sounds, and that behaviour can last all day sometimes.
  636. E also had significant attachment and emotional and behaviour difficulties. He would scream and shout and display harmful physical interactions towards the foster carers. At times he was physically aggressive towards his mother and sisters. His attachment style has impacted on his emotional regulation and pursuit of control. His attachment is complex. It is all or nothing. Whilst initially his strongest attachment figure was his father, more recent contact sessions have revealed that he is aggressive towards his father, not listening to instructions. He has kicked his father, and at times appeared unhappy and distressed. He too has improved significantly in foster care, due to the high level of care that he receives.
  637. It is a very difficult balancing exercise, and I agree with the legal principles outlined by counsel for the Local Authority, Mr Crabtree, in his closing submissions, that the court has to start from a recognition that care plans for adoption are very extreme, and only to be made when necessary for the protection of the children's interests, and where nothing else will do, all else fails, because adoption should only be contemplated as a last resort.
  638. I agree that there is no requirement upon the Local Authority to show that an adoptive placement can or will be found. I also agree that the existence of a long-term foster placement does not mean that the last resort test cannot be satisfied if adoption, or the possibility of an adoption, is a preferable outcome for the child and is a reasonable, necessary and proportionate intervention in the life of a child.
  639. However, here the view of the professionals, the Children's Guardian, the social worker and Dr P, is that short-term harm will be caused by the search process alone, because of the preparatory work that will be necessary, in particular with E. Therefore, in my judgment, the court is entitled to bear in mind the prospects for success in actually finding a suitable adoptive match That was presumably why her Honour Judge de Haas, QC, sitting section 9 as a judge at the High Court ordered evidence from the family finding team of the Local Authority back in January.
  640. The evidence that I received from T B left me with the clear impression that the pool of potential adopters would be extremely small, although I recognise the limits of her search. I agree with the Children's Guardian that the pool of prospective adopters is considerably narrowed due to the Local Authority's time-restricted search; his cognitive, social and emotional needs; abusive childhood experiences; complex attachment style; and cultural needs.
  641. If, as I find is likely in this case, the available pool is extremely small, then that is a relevant welfare consideration in determining whether the children should be exposed to the emotional harm that preparatory work for moving onwards, in my judgment, would be likely to cause. It is also something to be weighed in the balance when the professional assessment of the Children's Guardian, who has been to the placement to see the children on three occasions, is that as far as E is concerned, the simple act of moving him onto another placement, even if it is a suitably-matched adoptive placement, may so destroy his trust in forming attachments, that it may significantly harm, if not destroy, the prospects for success of forming a successful attachment in a new adoptive placement.
  642. Whilst I appreciate the negatives of leaving the children in long-term foster care, where the foster carers have clearly expressed the view that their perception of their religion and their own religious beliefs and personal beliefs do not permit them to pursue adoption or Special Guardianship, I accept the evidence that I have received from the professionals, that they are long-term carers who are committed, and are approved as such, and nobody has sought to suggest otherwise.
  643. They have already proven over a significant period of time that they have the ability at times in the most difficult circumstances to provide a high level of care, in which the children have flourished. On balance, I have decided against acceding to the application for a placement order, even in the face of the evidence of Dr P that, in her view, over the long term, the children would be able to adjust and form secure attachments.
  644. In that sense, I prefer the evidence of the Children's Guardian. The risks, in my judgment, are too great. The potential for placement breakdown in the current foster care placement and/or the failure of a subsequent adoptive placement would be utterly catastrophic.
  645. Further to that, I have also considered the impact of separating the children permanently from their parents, and probably also from their siblings, although I recognise that that is dependent upon the views of any potential adopters; and the emotional harm that that would cause.
  646. Whilst it is right that life story work could mitigate the impact on the children's sense of identity, and I also accept that the sibling attachments, according to Dr P, are not well-formed as a result of the care that they have been provided with; and that there is an unusual degree of one-upmanship amongst the siblings; and that it would affect the older children more than E and F, particularly A and B: as the children move on to form better attachments with their permanent carers, there is the potential for those sibling relationships to improve, as has been seen in the relationship between E and F.
  647. I am, therefore, of the view that a care order should be made in respect of E and F. For the reasons that I have already set out earlier in this judgment, the mother cannot provide good enough, safe enough, care for the children; and the father has realistically ruled himself out as a carer. There are no alternative friends or family carers, and the best option for these children is to remain in their current placement on the basis of long-term foster care.
  648. In reaching that decision, I have had regard to section 1 of the Children Act 1989, and to the fact that my paramount consideration is their welfare. I have also reminded myself that any delay in reaching a decision about their upbringing is likely to be prejudicial to their welfare. I have also had regard to the welfare checklist set out in section 1(3). A care order is necessary and proportionate.
  649. In those circumstances, the Local Authority are now invited to reconsider the care plan for E and F, on the basis that, in my judgment, and by a fine balance, they should remain in their current placements. They should not be exposed to the preparatory work for moving on, that placement orders would bring. In terms of contact with the parents, I see no reason to distinguish between them and contact for the older children.
  650. Forced marriage protection orders:

  651. I agree with the observations of Mr Crabtree for the Local Authority in his closing submissions that even though the making of forced marriage protection orders is agreed by the Local Authority and the Children's Guardian, and is not opposed by either the mother or the father, the court must still be satisfied that the child to whom the proposed order relates, needs protecting from being forced into a marriage, or from any attempt to be forced into a marriage, having regard to all the circumstances, including: the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of the person to be protected; and having regard to the child's wishes and feelings, so far as they are reasonably ascertainable, as the court considers appropriate in the light of the person's age and understanding.
  652. I am so satisfied, based on the family history and tradition; my assessment of the father's intentions, which are to continue the tradition; and the children's stated anxieties and beliefs about what will happen to them which, in my judgment, are likely to be based upon what the father has said to them. In those circumstances, there will be a continuation of the current orders in the terms proposed.
  653. Wardship:

  654. The court has already determined that it has jurisdiction in relation to G, and he remains a ward of court. That will continue until the court discharges the wardship, or until he reaches the age of 18. The Local Authority should continue to engage with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to pursue diplomatic means in an attempt to secure the transfer of G into this jurisdiction.
  655. Passports:

  656. The Local Authority currently holds the passports for the children, and also the parents. The Local Authority submit that:
  657. "(a) the court has the power to order the retention of the children's passports, but it need not exercise it in relation to any child in respect of whom a care order is made; (b) the court has the power to order the retention of any travel papers in respect of G, as he is, and is to remain, a ward of court; (c) the inherent jurisdiction can be used in respect of both the mother and the father's UK and Pakistani travel documents, if or because this is necessary to protect: (i) children within the jurisdiction; and (ii) a ward who is outside the jurisdiction."
  658. I have been invited by all parties to consider, inter alia, the decision of the Court of Appeal on appeal from a decision of the High Court Family Division of Roderick Wood, J, in the matter of M (Children) [2017] EWCA Civ at page 69.
  659. The appeal raised, "Important points of principle and jurisdiction, and concerns an issue (namely the making of an open-ended passport order at the conclusion of proceeds) which is a matter of importance, and about which there is apparently no extant authority", per MacFarlane, LJ, as he then was, in granting permission to appeal.
  660. The case involved a decision by Wood, J to refuse an application for return of his passport by a father who was Libyan, and had Libyan and British passports, because of the history, where the father tried to take the mother and seven children to Libya. On the basis that the judge could not trust him, the application was refused.
  661. The appeal was brought on the following bases:
  662. "(1) first, absent a statutory power, there was no power to permit the continuation of the passport order post the conclusion of the care proceedings until further order. There was no authority to support the proposition that the court, in exercising its inherent jurisdiction, can make a passport order which is unlimited in time after the conclusion of the proceedings in which it was made.
    "(2) second, that the judge failed to give any adequate consideration to the fact that the order constituted a serious curtailment of the appellant's freedom, and that accordingly, the power to make such an order fell to be exercised cautiously, and in a manner that was proportionate to the perceived risk.
    "(3) third, that the judge erred in failing to make any adequate provision for future review of the necessity of the passport order. A Local Authority review from time to time of whether a future application by the appellant for the return of his passport should be opposed was a wholly inadequate review mechanism, implying that the onus was on the appellant to justify why his passport should be returned to him, when the onus should be on the state to justify the curtailment of that freedom."
  663. Before the matter was heard by the Court of Appeal, the Local Authority agreed to return the passports, and did not oppose the appeal. However, in giving judgment, Sir James Munby, the then President of the Family Division, said this at paragraph 14:
  664. "The result is that the important matters of principle and practice identified by Mr Alomo will have to await decision in another case on another day. Without expressing any definitive view on any of these matters, it may, however, be helpful if I just make three points: (1) I cannot help thinking, given the jurisprudence in Re B (Child abduction: wardship: power to detain) [1994] 2FLR 479, and in Re B (Child: wrongful removal: orders against non parties) [2014] EWCA Civ at page 843, that there may be some real substance in Mr Alomo's first point.
    "(2) if an order such as that made by Roderick Wood, J can ever be justified after the conclusion of proceedings, it is likely only to be in an unusual, and probably quite extreme, case where it can be demonstrated after a close evaluation of the degree of risk to the children, and of the harm to which they will be exposed if the risk becomes a reality, that such a serious invasion of the passport holder's rights is proportionate and necessary: Re A (A child) [2016] EWCA Civ 572.
    "(3) If such an order can properly be made, and is made, it should usually be for a defined, rather than as here an indefinite, period of time."
  665. Black, LJ agreed. I consider this to be a highly persuasive authority as no definitive view was expressed, and therefore, it is not binding. Whilst I accept that the court has the power to make an order that provides for the continued retention of the parents' passports, having performed a close evaluation of the degree of risk for the children, and of the harm to which they would be exposed if the risk becomes a reality, and whether such a serious invasion of the parents' rights is proportionate and necessary, I have concluded that it is not.
  666. Dealing with the six older children first, I am making care orders in respect of them. In giving evidence, the social worker expressed the view that if the passports were retained, then that might provide added reassurance for the children that they would not be removed and taken to Pakistan. That, in my judgment, does not establish that there is a risk to be guarded against here to justify such a serious invasion of the parents' rights. To be effective, the passports would need to be held for up to 13 years, as F is 3 years of age, and the Local Authority has put its case on forced marriage at around the age of 16.
  667. It is difficult to see how the court could ever be in a position, moving forwards, where the court could say that the risk of a forced marriage could be put to one side. The father has already demonstrated, as has the mother, that they cannot be trusted. The protection for the children against being taken to Pakistan, and forced to marry, must come from the combined effect of the care orders and forced marriage protection orders.
  668. It will follow from the contents of this judgment, in any event, that the Local Authority will retain the passports of the children, and they will be able to use the passports at their discretion, should it be necessary for the children's carers to take them abroad with the approval of the Local Authority.
  669. The other limb to the Local Authority's argument is that there is an order providing for the ongoing wardship of G, and that the court should, in its inherent jurisdiction, make a passport order retaining the parents' passports on the basis that it is a time-limited order, and subject to review.
  670. In giving evidence, the social worker said that the rationale behind this was to prevent the mother and/or the father secretly returning to this country with G. Mr Crabtree suggested in his submissions that the court should also guard against the parents going to Pakistan, and resuming care of G there. Once again, I am not satisfied that after a close evaluation of the degree of risk to the child, and of the harm to which he would be exposed if the risk became a reality, that such a serious invasion of the passport holder's rights is proportionate and necessary.
  671. It would be necessary to continue such an order until G attained the age of majority. Whilst one could build in a time-limited order with review, unless he was returned to this country, the nature of the risk would be highly unlikely to change, in my judgment. Therefore, the level of interference, and invasion of the passport holder's rights would be disproportionate and, in my judgment, not necessary. After all, if the parents did bring him back to this country, albeit secretly, at least he would be back in this jurisdiction, and it would be likely, in my judgment, that the matter would come to the attention of the authorities. In those circumstances, I make no order in respect of the parents' passports, and they should be released back to the parents. That concludes this judgment.

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