12 November 2012
Family Law Specialist Duncan Ranton follows up on Parents accused of Child Abuse
At the start of October, I wrote a Blog commenting on a recent Court of Appeal decision that confirmed a strong presumption in favour of parents being entitled to know the nature and source of allegations against them of Child Abuse.
The case, Re J (A Child: Disclosure)  EWCA Civ 1204, concerned accusations of abuse made by a young woman, X. She suffered from a number of profound personal difficulties, both physical and emotional. She claimed a man had sexually abused her, but was adamant her identity must remain a secret. The allegations came to light during proceedings between the man and his former partner about his contact with their daughter, A.
At first instance, a High Court Judge took the view that X’s particular vulnerability meant there were, unusually, compelling reasons to withhold her identity from A’s parents. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that:“… the balance of rights comes down in favour of the disclosure of X’s identity and the records of the substance of her sexual abuse allegations to the mother (and) the father”. But it seems this will not be the final word on the matter. Following the decision in the Court of Appeal, X applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal, which was granted. X’s application is listed for hearing by the Supreme Court on 29 November. The case is expected to last for a day. Inevitably, the court’s decision will follow at a later date, possibly in time for the Christmas court vacation. The clarification from the Supreme Court, whichever way the decision goes, will be of great significance to legal advisers working within the Family Justice System across the spectrum of cases involving Families andChildren.
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