Children’s guardian chief is suspended

Diane Shepherd, the chief executive of the
Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass),
has been suspended.

Cafcass chairperson Anthony Newson refused
last week to comment on the nature and content of the investigation
into Shepherd but said the board “felt it was right for Diane not
to return to her duties until that investigation is completed”. She
had been expected back from sick leave on 12 November.

Shepherd was appointed to head Cafcass when it
was set up by the Lord Chancellor’s Department in April to unify
the family court welfare service, the children’s division of the
official solicitor and the local authority panels of guardians ad
litem, now children’s guardians.

But the organisation has been dogged with
difficulties since its inception, not least a long-running dispute
with the 700-plus self-employed children’s guardians culminating in
a high court defeat in September (see News, page 4, 20

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