See the following link for today’s Daily Mail article suggesting Mr Justice Mostyn has left neglected traveller children in danger at home, in the wake of Ellie Butler’s death and in the face of social workers seeking their removal – just to be tolerant towards different communities:

See also the Judgment here (that the Daily Mail opted not to link their readers to) for a more accurate version. In particular paragraph 9:

It reveals that Mr Justice Mostyn simply decided that Council safeguarding social workers were right and granted the renewed ‘Supervision Order’ that they themselves had applied for.

Despite “questionable events” and “concerns” about parenting, “the progress of the children was broadly satisfactory” so Mr Justice Mostyn found the Council’s own plan to keep them at home, without a care order in place, while monitoring closely over the next 6 months, was sufficient. The court appointed social worker on behalf of the children (‘Guardian’) disagreed saying council social workers should have applied for a Care Order and removed the children.

Frustratingly the key relevant detail about the actual concerns is not available to the reader to weigh up the view of the Guardian against the Local Authority view that the Judge preferred. Mostyn J chose not to set out the detail in his published judgment, instead adopting the local authority’s Statement of Evidence as the factual matrix and merely referencing it. The Statement itself lies unpublished on the court file. Journalists, legal bloggers and the public cannot see it to make any sense of the decision, without making an expensive (and quite possibly unwarranted) formal court application for it. That is not really transparency in a case like this.

The Council had chosen not to apply for a Care Order though they could have done. They applied instead for permission to carry on monitoring the situation with the children at home under a ‘Supervision Order’ while deciding whether a Care Order and removal of the children would be needed long term. They had already been monitoring for 2 years under a Supervision Order. (Supervision Orders don’t give social workers the legal power to do things without the parent’s consent, such as remove children, like Care Orders do)

Note the contrast with the decision of Mrs Justice Hogg not to make a Supervision Order that would have required the Council to supervise Ellie and her parents when returning her to her parents’ care.

Note also that the norms of traveller culture with respect to parenting were cited as relevant but were not, as the Daily Mail headline suggests, the reason for the decision.

The identity of the Council, the social worker and the Guardian are all kept back, despite Transparency Guidance that says they should usually be stated. Perhaps for good reason, like increased risk of identifying the children because they belong to a small and more easily identifiable minority group, but I can’t think of any good reason for not acknowledging this if so.

That said, I increasingly think the level of casual misreporting of family cases makes it’s own argument against naming individuals or authorities, at least while so few judgments are being published.