A social worker plans to make a claim for damages against the Ministry of Justice after a judge unfairly included criticism of her in a ruling, causing her to be suspended from her job.
Last year the social worker and a police officer who had been criticised by a family court judge won the right to have the negative comments about them removed from a judgment.
This followed an appeal court finding that the judge had “failed to meet the basic requirements of fairness” and breached their right to a private life and fair trial.
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Judge Arthur had failed to give the social worker and police officer an opportunity to respond to the criticisms he was forming of them, the appeal court said. These criticisms played no part in the outcome of the case.
The appeal court ruled that only a redacted version of the initial care proceedings could be published as a result of Judge Arthur’s unfair criticism.
In a court hearing last month, the social worker was given permission to share the judge’s name and details from the original proceedings in her case against the judiciary. Judge Arthur died in May 2016.
The social worker plans to bring a claim in the Queen’s Bench Division against the Lord Chancellor and/or the Ministry of Justice.
She is demanding damages for “misfeasance in public office” – which covers claims that public officers have abused their power – and for breaching her rights to a fair trial, private life and to not be discriminated against (under articles 6, 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights).
She is claiming the Lord Chancellor and/or the Ministry of Justice “bear vicarious liability for the Judge’s acts”.
The chief of the family courts, Sir James Munby, ordered that the social worker be allowed to identify the judge who made the criticism as part of disclosing to proposed defendants.
However, she is not allowed to share documents which identified – or would lead to the identification of – any party or witness in the care proceedings or the appeal.