February 14, 2017
Council apologises for false abuse letter
Letter led to removal of Claimant's child
Northamptonshire County Council has today apologised in court to Theo Taylor for the publication of a letter from a social worker in its social services department which led to Mr Taylor’s child being removed.
In a statement in open court read today before HHJ Parkes QC, Mr Taylor’s barrister, Adam Speker, explained:
My Lord/ Lady, on or about 3 January 2014, a social worker within Northamptonshire County Council’s Social Services Department wrote a letter to solicitors acting for the ex-wife of Mr Taylor. The letter was intended to be used to assist his ex-wife to obtain legal aid.
In that letter the social worker stated that Mr Taylor was a perpetrator of child abuse and/or domestic abuse and that the Council’s Social Services Department had carried out assessments on his former wife and two of his children and, as a result, concluded that they were victims of, or at high risk of being victims of, the Claimant.
These allegations were and are completely false. The Defendant now accepts:
- The Claimant was not a perpetrator of child abuse or domestic abuse.
- The Defendant had not carried out any assessments on the Claimant’s ex-wife and children.
Unfortunately, the letter concerned was re-published by Mr Taylor’s ex-wife to a number of individuals. The republication of the letter contributed to Mr Taylor being unable to obtain legal aid to contest the family proceedings whereas his ex-wife was able to do so and obtained custody of their child. We also understand that the repercussions of the letter concerned include the Claimant and his family being subjected to harassment and violence and that, as a result, they have had to leave their home. This has unsurprisingly caused the Claimant very considerable distress, hurt and upset.
Mr Taylor complained to the Defendant which carried out an internal investigation conducted by an independent investigator. Among the investigator’s conclusions, he found that,
‘The consequences of producing an inaccurate letter has been severe and far reaching for Mr Taylor. It seems likely that his son would not have been removed from his care in January 2014 and if that had been the case the outcome of the Court proceedings regarding residence might have been different. In addition it is possible that he would have been successful in obtaining legal aid, which was denied him as he had been labelled as the perpetrator of domestic abuse and child abuse. This could have also made a difference to the court proceedings.’
The independent investigator recommended that an apology was made to Mr Taylor and financial redress provided. When settlement negotiations stalled, a claim was issued in the High Court.
I am pleased to say that the parties have now come to terms and that the Defendant is here today through its Solicitor to apologise to Mr Taylor. It has agreed to compensate him for the damage caused and has taken further steps to remedy the damage it has caused to the Claimant including funding him to bring proceedings to seek contact with his son who he has not seen for over a year.
The Council’s solicitor, Ms Punam Mehta of BLM, told the court,
On behalf of the Defendant I endorse all that has been sent by my learned friend.
Through me the Defendant apologises to the Claimant.
The Defendant accepts that the allegations made in the letter of 3 January 2014 were and are false and that a very serious mistake was made.
It has agreed to write to recipient and to compensate the Claimant very substantially for the damage caused to him and has taken further steps to remedy the damage it has caused to the Claimant including by funding him to bring proceedings to seek contact with his son.