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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Criticism over failure to publish ruling in case which saw teenager going into council care

Written by Brian Farmer

A former Liberal Democrat MP has criticised a family court judge for failing to publish a ruling in a case in which a Polish woman whose teenage daughter went into council care was found to be in contempt of court.

John Hemming, who campaigns for improvements in the family justice system, says Judge Simon Oliver has fallen foul of rules laid by judicial heads.

Judge Oliver concluded that the woman had wrongly revealed detail about her daughter when speaking to a Polish journalist, following a hearing at a family court in Reading, Berkshire, in January.

He did not impose any punishment.

Judicial heads have twice in recent years laid down rules relating to procedures judges must follow when considering applications to commit people to jail for contempt - in a bid to ensure that no-one is jailed in secret.

Two years ago Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice and the most senior judge in England and Wales, said if a judge found that a person had committed a contempt a ruling had to be made available for publication "as soon as reasonably practicable".

"Judge Oliver made the contempt finding in the middle of January," said Mr Hemming.

"We are now nearing the end of March but still no judgment has been published."

He added: "How long is 'reasonably practicable'? I think the judge is in breach of the rule."

Mr Hemming had earlier criticised Judge Oliver for deciding that the identity of the woman had to remain a secret.

He said that decision was also in breach of rules.

The woman had been told not to discuss her daughter's case and social services bosses at Oxfordshire County Council had accused her of being in contempt.

Council staff had said they did not want to see the woman jailed but wanted her to stop making detail of her daughter's case public.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) David Jones / PA Wire.