A local council has been ordered to pay damages after taking a week-old baby into care because the father expressed “unorthodox” views about the need to sterilise feeding bottles.
A family court judge awarded the couple and their son, who is now 15 months old, a total of £11,250 after ruling that Kirklees Council had breached their human rights and misled a judge in a bid to remove the child from their care.
The case, which has cost the taxpayer around £120,000, centred on a couple in their mid-twenties, who cannot be identified. They both suffer from mild learning difficulties and have received assistance from adult social care workers for around a decade.
In a ruling published yesterday, Mr Justice Cobb said that the couple had not been referred to social services ahead of the baby’s birth, in November 2015, despite the fact that the mother suffers from minor mental health problems and the father had “displayed aggressive behaviour”.
Four days after the child was born, however, hospital staff called the council to raise concerns about “the long-term parenting capacity of this mother and father”.
Mr Justice Cobb said: “It was suggested that the mother had no family support, and that the father was expressing unorthodox views about the need for sterilisation of bottles, and the benefits of formula milk.”
Social workers then sought an emergency hearing to place the child under the care of its paternal grandmother, however they did not tell the parents that the hearing was taking place, wrongly told the judge that they had been informed, and also “forgot to notify” Cafcass, the agency that represents children’s interests in court.