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Thursday, 16 February 2017

West Yorkshire couple win damages after complaining baby son was unfairly taken

Written by Brian Farmer

A couple have won damages after complaining that their baby son was unfairly taken from them as a result of decisions made by council social services staff.

Bosses at Kirklees Council, which has offices in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, admitted breaching the human rights of mother, father and child.

A High Court judge has awarded damages totalling more than £11,000.

Mr Justice Cobb analysed the case at a private family court hearing in Sheffield earlier this month and announced his decision in a ruling published on Thursday.

He said the couple could not be identified.

The boy, now aged 15 months, was placed with grandparents by a family court judge in Huddersfield when a week old after social services staff raised concerns about his parents' ability to care for him, Mr Justice Cobb said.

Social workers agreed to him returning to his parents about 10 weeks later.

Mr Justice Cobb said he had lived "successfully" at home since then.

The couple, who are in their 20s and have mild learning difficulties, said they had been unaware of the Huddersfield family court hearing.

They said their human rights to a fair trial and to respect for family life had been infringed, as had the human rights of their son.

Council bosses accepted that staff had not informed the couple of the court hearing.

Mr Justice Cobb said the couple and their son had been given legal aid to fund damages claims.

He said the case would see taxpayers picking up a bill of more than £130,000.

Mr Justice Cobb indicated that social workers had intervened after hospital midwives raised concern about the couple's long-term parenting capacity.

He added: "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."

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