Social workers “hung out to dry” by authority after court judgement, claims family lawyer

Family lawyer describes North East Lincolnshire Council's actions as "shameful" after court judgement blasts social workers for 'grossly overstated' evidence in adoption case

A lawyer has accused North East Lincolnshire council of hanging frontline social workers “out to dry”, following a highly critical court judgement in an adoption case.

Nigel Priestley, a senior partner at the law firm Ridley and Hall who represented one set of grandparents in the case, described the local authority’s actions as “shameful”.

“Management appear to have hung social workers out to dry,” he said. “The social workers couldn’t have put their plans forward without rigorous discussions with their managers and I suspect at the moment the managers are hiding in locked rooms.”

The council had requested that the children’s social workers remain anonymous, but the precedent of Sir James Munby’s guidance means that, while judgements shouldn’t enable a child to be identified, the same does not apply to social workers.

Priestley criticised the unsuccessful local authority plan for not containing any assessment of the potential impact on the child of losing relationships with grandparents and siblings would be.

He remarked on the tension now developing between courts and the local authorities.

“Local authorities know what the government is thinking, they know what the prime minister thinks, they know what [children’s minister] Edward Timpson thinks, they know what’s expected of them and in some cases that might create pressures to go down a route, which isn’t the best route for the child in question,” he said.

North East Lincolnshire council declined to comment.


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