Following the media attention in 2012 surrounding the case of the Boor family, who had their children taken by British social services, and the mounting criticism of the system of fast adoption processes, Britain’s most senior family court judge has criticised the system in another case involving a Slovak parent.
The case in question concerns 12-yr boy ‘E’, who was taken from his Slovak mum by the authorities last year and entrusted to his aunt. In the case, Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, essentially criticised the system of fast adoptions in the UK, where the process often goes ahead even without the biological parents knowing about it.
Munby underlined the importance of involving consulates or the authorities of foreign nationals about cases, praising the fact that the Slovak Embassy was involved in this case from the outset. The Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were both criticised heavily for the complacency shown in the Boor case, so an interest in such cases is now almost standard practice.
In a public judgment issued for the case, the judge said “In cases involving foreign nationals there must be transparency and openness as between the English family courts and the consular and other authorities of the relevant foreign state. This is vitally important, both as a matter of principle and, not least, in order to maintain the confidence of foreign nationals and foreign states in our family justice system.”
In this case, Sir Munby also revoked the ban imposed on parents from speaking openly in the media about their traumas, but only if it is not in English, to protect the child’s identity in Britain. Here at TheDaily.SK we had a reporting ban imposed on us last year concerning the Boor case, forcing us to remove all comments and factual details about the case from the articles (subject to possible arrest for contempt of court on my next return to the UK).
“It is one of frequently voiced complaints that the courts of England and Wales are exorbitant in their exercise of the care jurisdiction over children from other European countries” Sir Munby stated, adding “In the nature of things it is difficult to know to what extent such complaints are justified. What is clear, however, is that the number of care cases involving children from other European countries has risen sharply in recent years and that significant numbers of care cases now involve such children.”
“It would be idle to ignore the fact that these concerns are only exacerbated by the fact that the United Kingdom is unusual in Europe in permitting the total severance of family ties without parental consent”, Sir Munby noted.
This is not the first time Sir Munby has spoken out against the system, which is suspected of being corrupt and over-zealous, with a recent case from December 2013 involving an enforced caesarean, where Essex County council literally snatched the baby from the mum’s womb. Commenting on that case, Munby retorted how it was an “irrefutable demonstration of the pressing need for radical change” in the family courts.