A mother who had her one hour-old son taken away from her by police after her boyfriend threatened to ‘mobilize an army of 200 skinheads’ to kidnap the child has failed to overturn a family judge’s interim order that she should have no contact with her baby. The Court of Appeal ruled that concerns in respect of the child’s safety justified the separation of mother and child.
The child was removed from a hospital ward after it emerged that his father, who had a history of violent crime, had ‘contacts within the criminal fraternity and discrimination groups’. Although the mother herself was not viewed as a threat to the child, social workers said that her ‘submissive personality’ made her ‘putty in the hands’ of the violent father.
The child had since been sheltered at a secret location and there had been no contact between him and his mother. After the local authority responsible for the child said that there was no safe location in which they could meet, a family judge granted an emergency care order with no provision for contact.
The mother’s lawyers argued on appeal that social workers had taken the ‘empty’ threats issued by the father too seriously and urged the court to order immediate daily contact between mother and son. It was submitted that the child’s best interests lay in being allowed to bond with his mother.
However, in dismissing the appeal, the court noted that the couple had been warned prior to the birth that their baby was likely to be taken from them because of the father’s violent history and it was at that point that the father uttered threats which were justifiably taken seriously.
Lord Justice Thorpe concluded: ‘The local authority views the father as being incapable of self-control and a potentially dangerous figure. It says he conducted himself in a hostile and threatening manner and that there were continued threats by the father that he would have an army of people outside the hospital. He seemingly threatened more than one social worker personally with his power to assemble a sort of mob which would assist him in kidnapping the baby. He admitted making threats that he could muster 200 skinheads to act as his foot soldiers. I’m perfectly clear in my mind that the local authority succeeds in its submissions. We cannot say that the judge was clearly wrong, and I would dismiss this appeal.’