Lib Dems slam response to unlawful Haringey Council investigation

The judgement of a Judicial Review into Labour-run Haringey’s Children and Young Persons Service department was today handed down by a High Court judge. The Judge held that the Council acted indefensibly and unlawfully on an anonymous complaint against two parents.

The Review was granted in relation to a complaint by a parent about an aborted investigation into alleged abuse of their child. The Judge determined that Haringey acted unlawfully in that:

  • They did not launch relevant investigation at the right time
  • They made intrusive enquiries of their child’s GP and school before speaking with the family, contrary to regulations
  • Their belated attempt to launch Section 47 inquiry into allegation was flawed and was quashed

The Judge also ordered Haringey Council to pay £2,000 compensation to the parent under the Human Rights Act (Article 8 – right to family life.)

Cllr David Schmitz – Liberal Democrat, Harringay ward – commented:

“Section 47 enquiries are very serious. The Judge himself observed that they can easily damage the life, career and family relationships of anyone caught up in them. If Haringey had got its way on this case, it would have got away with threatening to use their powers against innocent parents, who had done nothing more than make entirely justified complaints about the way that council officers were ignoring safeguards which are in place to protect all of us.

“During the case, Haringey argued that the statutory guidance was getting in the way of child protection. That guidance was written for the purpose of teaching social workers everywhere the lessons that needed to be learnt from Haringey’s failures in the Baby P case. It is outrageous that the guidance should not be followed by Haringey itself.”

Cllr Katherine Reece – Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson for children – commented:

“It is such a shame that Haringey has been found to have failed yet again. In this case they have been found to have acted overzealously resulting in a breach of parents’ rights.

“This comes on top of the recent case of the Haringey baby left on a bus by a foster carer, they can’t get the balance right.

“These two cases confirm that despite recent progress Haringey Council’s children services still have a long way to go and still require improvement.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green commented:

“Not only did Haringey Council act unlawfully throughout the investigation, they have also breached the Human Rights Act and will have to pay compensation accordingly. Compensation following a Judicial Review is very rare,  and  indicates  that  the  judge  feels  a  real  abuse  of power  has  occurred.

“This is a damning verdict. Yet again, Haringey children’s services have failed. Even after Baby P, they still have not managed to get the department in order. Haringey Children, parents and residents deserve better.”