A local authority has paid almost £5,000 to a transgender boy whose right to a private life was broken by an employee.
The 17-year-old, who was born a girl, was an adopted child but his relationship with his adoptive parents “completely broke down” after he told them he wanted to change sex.
“Matters continued to deteriorate to the extent that [he] did not want his adoptive parents to be involved in his life nor to receive any information about him including any medical treatment he may undergo,” the judgment said.
Barred from sharing information
After the relationship with his adoptive parents broke, he entered foster care under a section 20 arrangement. He later moved to a local authority unit for semi-independent living.
A judge made him a ward of court, and made an order preventing the local authority from sharing any information with his adoptive parents. However, a local authority employee disclosed personal information to friends of his adoptive parents. The position of the employee was not revealed in the court judgement.
The information disclosed included his forename and transgender status. He was originally told that the address of the unit where he was living had also been shared, but this was not proven. The local authority asserted that the information was not passed on to his adoptive parents.
“The impact of this wrongful disclosure on [him] was immediate and dramatic. He felt unsafe at the unit and left. He first stayed with his girlfriend and then at a number of residential units provided by the local authority. [His] mental health was very severely compromised: he made a number of suicide attempts and there were several episodes of self-harm,” the judgment added.
The local authority “promptly” told him of the disclosure, but the judge felt it was slow in giving him a full account of what happened, and an unreserved apology.
The employee was suspended and underwent formal investigation by the local authority, but the outcome of this was not known to the court.
After admitting it was at fault and had breached the boy’s article 8 rights to a private life, the local authority agreed to pay £4,750 in damages, and the cost of all but the last hearing which principally concerned issues between the boy and the Legal Aid Agency.