A man who harassed a social worker after his son was placed for adoption could face jail for defying orders designed to protect the boy’s identity.
The chief of the family courts, Sir James Munby, issued an arrest warrant after he found the man was in contempt of court and had breached an injunction that banned him from publishing details of his son online or harassing staff from Gloucestershire children’s services and Cafcass.
Munby made the ruling after analysing evidence submitted by Gloucestershire Cafcass and Gloucestershire council, including a post the man made to a ‘name and shame social workers’ site.
Cafcass submitted an email the man sent to the boy’s Cafcass guardian, a social worker, which included a screenshot of her name and private address.
Munby said the inclusion of the address “served no legitimate or proper purpose”, adding: “In my judgment this was psychological intimidation and harassment. It was sending the message that ‘I know where you live’, with all the threatening and worrying implications it was no doubt intended to convey. This was, in my judgment, a plain and bad breach of…the order.”
The man also sent two emails to Cafcass managers in which he said he would “not allow” the guardian into court for separate proceedings involving the man, and threatened to “remove her from court” if she was not replaced.
Munby said these emails went beyond “bluster”, with their tone “menacing and the message intimidatory”.
“This, in my judgment, was harassment of the guardian. The fact that the guardian would no doubt have done her duty and not bent before this intimidation is neither here nor there,” he said.
“Those who attend our courts, whether for personal or professional reasons, are entitled to do so without being threatened, harassed or intimidated for their pains.”
‘Name and shame’ site
Gloucestershire council submitted evidence that the man posted details of two social workers involved in the adoption case on a “name and shame social workers” site during the period the injunction was in force.
The post listed the child’s name, which Munby found breached the injunction. He refused to rule on whether the post constituted harassment of the social workers, as this allegation was not included in the council’s original application to the court.
Munby also considered two other emails submitted by Cafcass in which the man said he was submitting a fitness to practice complaint to the HCPC about the guardian and called for her to be replaced.
The judge said both messages were “no doubt” part of the man’s “campaign” but did not constitute harassment.
“Merely calling for the removal of a guardian or threatening a report to a professional body or regulator is not, without more ado, harassment, even if the relevant emails form part of a larger body of emails some of which are, or may be, on the ‘wrong side of the line’.”
The man’s son was the subject of a family court case two years ago when a judge ruled he should be taken into care and placed for adoption.