Lest you feel that I’m unduly critical of the state of our benighted country, I’m pleased on this occasion to report a good-news story. Sadly though, it remains an all too typical tale of official, state-sanctioned bullying and over-reaction but just this once, natural justice has prevailed, albeit at some considerable cost to those involved.
One of the many examples of legalised child-snatching – a topic that I covered here – relates to Tara Norman who, while leaning over her new-born twins’ incubator, said ‘You should see what you have done to your Mummy’s body.’ Most of us would recognise this remark as an example of the loving and conspiratorial bonding that goes on between a parent and child, particularly when that parent is a tired, worried and awed first-time mother. More, Mrs Norman had undergone extensive IVF treatment and suffered potentially fatal complications that resulted in an emergency Caesarean section two months before her due date. (Like every woman, I would imagine, Mrs Time Traveller felt pretty unglamorous after the birth of each of the little Time Travellers and she didn’t require surgery. She still threatens to sue Time Traveller Boy II for transforming her from a size 8 to a size10….).
A nurse who overheard Mrs Norman speaking to her babies chose to interpret the remark as threatening to the twins’ welfare and reported Mrs Norman – as a potential danger to her children – to Havering Borough Council’s Social Services department. The outcome of this action was that the matter was taken to the secret Family Court where a protection order was granted to the effect that once the twins were discharged from hospital, they were removed (at 6 weeks old) into a series of foster homes.
Over one year later, after a series of court hearings and minimal contact with her children, Tara Norman has had her twins returned to her under the provisions of a supervision order. This order is now reported to have lapsed.
Inevitably, the Social Services department will attract opprobrium for their handling of the case and certainly, in my limited experience of social workers, they do themselves few favours: many of them present as so humourless and so lacking in humanity that it is easy to believe that the common associations of their acronym are not entirely coincidental.
Undoubtedly, they have over-reacted in this case… but they do walk a very difficult line; damned if they do, damned if they don’t. For their sakes and for the sakes of the families and children who get caught up in these nightmarish cases, there needs to be more oversight of Social Services activities in protection matters. This is what an open justice system would provide: the secretiveness of the Family Court system is a recipe for abuse and a disgrace to a free country.
If you share this view, go here and lobby your MP to make the Family Court system publicly accountable. Please.