Social work managers at an unnamed council acted in a “grossly
unprofessional and wholly improper manner” when dealing with the
arrest of one of their foster carers in connection with child
pornography offences, a High Court judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Wall said the council deliberately failed to inform the
foster child’s birth mother and a care proceedings court of the
allegations, following the arrest in October 2002.
The revelations were made during care proceedings instigated by the
council to free the 19-month-old boy for adoption.
The court was told that the child was placed with experienced
foster carers in November 2001 and remained there until the foster
father was arrested as part of the Operation Ore investigation into
the viewing of child pornography on the internet.
Justice Wall said the council had concealed from the child’s birth
mother the true reason for the subsequent medical examinations to
check for sexual or physical abuse, indicating the checks were
The social worker also told the mother the carers were unable to
continue with the placement for “personal reasons”.
At the following day’s interim care order hearing, magistrates were
not told that the placement had been terminated.
Justice Wall ruled that the council displayed a “defensive, indeed
obstructive” attitude which had complicated the proceedings,
increased costs, and was “so fundamental a breach of its duty to
the child and the court that censure is unavoidable”.
Justice Wall added that the whole case could have been avoided if
the child’s guardian had been appointed within the recommended
target of two days after care proceedings were instigated, instead
of the six weeks it took.