On Monday Panorama showed a report on the journey through the family courts of a family accused of causing serious non-accidental injuries to their baby son: ‘Parents’ Child Abuse Nightmare’. After lengthy police investigation and care proceedings no prosecution was pursued and a finding of fact hearing exonerated the parents, the Judge holding that there was no cogent evidence that causation of the injuries was non-accidental.


It was a shocking story, perhaps more so for those who do not work in the system and have not been caught up in it in respect of their own families. On another level, for care practitioners like myself it was however in many respects unremarkable – although the case broke new ground in respect of issues concerning publication of judgments and the identity of experts the care proceedings themselves raised familiar issues and followed a well worn path. What was unusual in terms of the care proceedings was the total failure of the Local Authority to make out threshold.


There were several predictable references to the secrecy of the system, though the system was not so secret as to prevent the programme from being made. The fact that permission had been given for the proceedings to be reported did not appear to attenuate the hyperbole about the cloak and dagger approach of the courts (In fairness though, the lengths to which the parties and the BBC had to go to get permission were not insignificant as can be seen from the number of citations which follow at the end of this post). Continue Reading…

The Barristers – Episode 4

Hmm – this post seems to have been waylaid in my ‘drafts’ folder for reasons of PEBCAK.


In Short – see my comments on episode 1, episode 2 and episode 3: more of the same. The final episode can be summarised thus: more shots of people being called to the bar in oak panelled rooms, plus (just incase you’d missed the point being delicately made in episodes 1, 2 and 3) the addition of gratuitous shots of  tourists looking impressed at Temple Church in order to demonstrate how ancient yet interesting we barristers are (shamelessly borrowing pop-kudos from the be-corduroyed Da Vinci Code). Some interesting footage of criminal practice (very interesting actually but there are a few of us that do other things). Oh, and a demonstration of how needlessly unpleasant tenancy application processes can be – poor Kakoly Pande. Glad she got in – clearly a determined and plucky individual which are important attributes at the bar – but I think I’d have almost felt like telling them where to stick their tenancy after that sadistic experience.