Friday, February 20, 2015
Judge slams 'social engineering' by council that took baby away from his father over ties to racist EDL and teenage sex caution
Social workers were accused by a senior judge of ‘social engineering’ after trying to take a child for adoption because his father was involved with the English Defence League.
They decided that the far-Right political group was ‘barbaric’ and the 25-year-old man’s views were ‘immoral’.
He should not be allowed to bring up his child because the boy needed ‘an environment that supports difference, equality and independence’, they said.
But Sir James Munby, the country’s most senior family judge, blocked the adoption, ruling that the father’s failure to be a good role model did not justify taking his child away.
The toddler was placed in foster care at birth when Darlington Borough Council raised concerns over his father's ties to the English Defence League and a sex caution he received as a teenager. Social services staff said they found the man to be 'immoral' and should therefore not be given custody of his child.
But the judge yesterday criticised the council, saying it should not see itself as 'guardians of morality'.
In a written ruling, he stated the father could be 'immature' and 'irresponsible' but said there was a risk of 'social engineering' if the toddler was to be permanently removed from his care.
He said: 'I can accept that the father may not be the best of parents, he may be a less than suitable role model, but that is not enough to justify a care order let alone adoption.
'We must guard against the risk of social engineering, and that, in my judgment is what, in truth, I would be doing if I was to remove [the toddler] permanently from his father's care.'
He ruled the council had failed to show the child, now 13 months old, would be at risk of harm in the care of his father and said he should be returned to his care.
Sir James, president of the Family Division of the High Court, made his complaints after analysing the case at a family court hearing in Middlesbrough.
He said the approach taken by the council had been almost a textbook example of how not to pursue a care case and was 'very critical' of its analysis and conduct of the litigation.
The toddler's father, who has not been named, had wanted to care for him, said Sir James. The toddler's mother had not put herself forward as a carer - and had supported the father's application.
But social services staff said the youngster should be adopted and had raised concerns about his father's morality.
The charges laid by Darlington social workers against the father were that he lied about being present at a railway accident as a child, that when he was 17 he had sex with a 13-year-old and this was immoral, that he drank too much and used cannabis, and that he had briefly been an activist with the EDL.
They said he had ‘numerous’ criminal convictions when, in fact, he had two police cautions.
The child was born in January last year while his mother was in prison and immediately taken into council care. She accepted she could not bring up her boy.
Social workers produced the string of allegations against the father as they prepared an adoption case.
One social worker recorded: ‘The distorted thinking of those within the EDL is barbaric and their actions inappropriate. Therefore the mentality of those involved has to be brought into question.’
The social worker also pointed out ‘the immoral nature of the values and beliefs’ of EDL members and the violence of their protests.
The father had ‘some involvement’ with the English Defence League during 2013, Sir James’s judgment published yesterday said.
Sir James said the the council had 'conspicuously' failed to show that the toddler would be at risk of harm or neglect in the care of his father.
He said it was ‘extraordinary’ that social workers should describe his politics and a teenage encounter with an under-age girl as immoral. He added that many 17-year-olds have had sex with under-age girls, but that does not mean they should lose their children.
'The city fathers of Darlington and Darlington's director of social services are not guardians of morality,' said Sir James. 'Nor is this court.'
He added: 'The justification for state intervention is harm to children, not parental immorality.'
Sir James, who did not identify the family involved, made a series of criticisms of the council.
'There are lessons here to be learned, not just by this local authority and its staff but also by practitioners more generally.'
Sir James said the allocated social worker had been 'plainly both inexperienced and too inexperienced for a case of this complexity'.
He said her work had been 'seriously flawed'. And he said a second social worker seemed neither to have 'explored nor analysed' in any detail the underlying factual basis of the council's case.
'In a significant number of very material respects the local authority has simply failed to prove the factual underpinning of its case,' said Sir James.
'The local authority was too willing to believe the worst of the father, which led to it being unduly dismissive of what he was saying.'
Sir James said he had 'quite deliberately' not identified either of the two social workers or a team manager. But he said he had deliberately identified Darlington Borough Council.
'It is Darlington Borough Council and its senior management that are to blame, not only social workers and a team manager, ' said Sir James.
'It would be unjust to the social workers and the team manager to name and shame them when others are not similarly exposed.'
Sir James said he had reached conclusions about the toddler's father after going through the council's concerns in detail.
He said: 'The father is immature and can sometimes act irresponsibly. In some instances, though not to the extent alleged by the local authority, the father has minimised or played down matters which were properly of concern to the local authority.
'He has not always been open and honest with professionals.
'To an extent the father is lacking in insight regarding [the toddler's] needs and minimises some aspects of his character and behaviours which may bear adversely on [the toddler].
'On occasions the father drinks to excess. On occasions he has taken cannabis.
'There have been episodes of domestic discord between the father, his mother and his step-father, involving the police and, on occasions, actual violence.'
But the judge said he had found the man to be a 'truthful and, for the most part, reliable'.
He said this did not establish a real possibility that the toddler will suffer significant harm, or that his welfare requires him to be adopted.
Sir James suggested that similar concerns might be raised about many men. 'It is an undoubted fact of life that many youths and young men have sexual intercourse with under-age girls. But if such behaviour were to be treated without more as grounds for care proceedings years later, the system would be overwhelmed,' said Sir James.
His analysis of the concerns about the man's links with the English Defence League was similar.
'The mere fact, if fact it be, that the father was a member, probably only for a short time, of the English Defence League is neither here nor there, whatever one may think of its beliefs and policies,' said Sir James.
'It is concerning to see the local authority again harping on about the allegedly 'immoral' aspects of the father's behaviour.'
He added: 'I cannot accept that the father presents the kind of risk to [the toddler] which gives rise to a real possibility of [the toddler] suffering significant harm, let alone the degree of risk which would have to be demonstrated to justify a plan for adoption.'
The case follows an incident in 2012 when three children in Rotherham were taken from foster parents after social workers discovered they were Ukip supporters.
Ada Burns, chief executive of Labour controlled Darlington, said: ‘We have taken the issues raised by Sir James Munby on board.’
Labour 'infantilised' millions of people on benefits by letting them choose a life on the dole, Cameron claims
Labour ‘infantilised’ welfare claimants by letting them choose a life on benefits, David Cameron declared today.
The last government’s handling of the system had divided Britain and created ‘resentment’ among taxpayers, the PM added.
In his first election campaign speech on the benefits system, the PM said it was a ‘national disgrace’ under Labour which had ‘infuriated’ those forced to pay for welfare.
As he appealed to voters for five more years ‘to finish the job’ Mr Cameron outlined his ‘British deal on welfare’ which he said would ‘restore real fairness to our country’.
He confirmed proposals to force jobless youngsters to do community work rather than just going straight on the dole. Instead of signing on, young people will be forced to pick up litter, clean graffiti or work for local charities.
This would give them the ‘order and discipline of turning up for work each day’, he said. There are around 50,000 young people a year who currently go straight on to the dole.
Mr Cameron defended the coalition’s reforms – including the benefits cap, tax cuts for low earners and rises in the minimum wage - and challenged the idea it was ‘compassionate’ to ‘leave people on the dole for years with no incentive to get into work’.
Addressing activists and the media at a school in Hove, East Sussex, he questioned the ‘myth’ that it was ‘kind to sentence people to never going anywhere’ or to let ‘people in their teens and twenties sit at home all day slipping into depression and despair’.
Under Labour welfare became ‘a series of giveaways’. Young people could ‘leave school, sign on, start getting your benefit, start getting housing benefit’ while making only a ‘minimal’ contribution, he said.
He said: ‘No CV? No problem. No real effort put in? No problem.
‘And all this had a corrosive effect. For those paying for welfare – it infuriated them. For those dependent on welfare – it infantilised them.’
‘Because people don’t just live up to expectations – they live down to them too.
‘If you give people nothing to work for, no responsibilities to uphold – they’re going to lose the ability to stretch themselves and find work.
Mr Cameron added: ‘Our welfare system should be something that unites our country in pride – not that divides it in resentment.’
‘But when people worked hard and paid their taxes, knowing that others were choosing to live on welfare.
‘When they saw their money going on social housing they could never afford to live in. ‘Or when hardworking young people were stuck living with their parents into their 30s – while others got a council house straight out of school, that created a sense of deep unfairness.
‘We are putting that right with a clear set of rules that apply to all; a British deal on welfare.’
Mr Cameron promised people in work would be better off, support for those who are ‘genuinely sick or disabled’ and ‘dignity and security in retirement’ for those who worked hard all their life.
But to anyone who refused to work he said: ‘We will not keep supporting you.’
The PM pointed to the rise in employment, and the 700,000 job vacancies for those looking for work. The Government’s economic plan was working and being felt ‘in people’s pockets and homes and hearts and hopes’, he said.
Meddling Bishops' left-wing manifesto
Tory fury as Church of England releases 'shopping list' of policies three months before General Election
David Cameron issued a rebuke to the Church of England yesterday, after its bishops delivered a thinly-veiled attack on the social and economic record of the Coalition.
In an unprecedented intervention into the general election campaign, Church leaders railed against the market economy, consumerism, and the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.
In an open letter they called for a ‘new direction’ in politics to replace a society they said is self-interested, fragmented, and badly led by politicians.
They insist they want to counter the message – promoted by comedian Russell Brand – that taking part in politics is useless.
One leading Tory described the attack as ‘depressing and naive’.
It was also pointed out that the letter makes little mention of issues such as marriage, drug abuse and the availability of pornography.
Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit last night said the bishops were ‘mostly wrong’.
He added: ‘In my experience, when people are not doing very well in their own job, they become very much better at telling other people how to do theirs. This is a classic case of that.’
The bishops claimed their intention was not to tell people how to vote. But the 52-page ‘letter to the people and parishes of the Church of England’ suggested inequality and social injustice had increased under the Coalition.
They said the burden of austerity has fallen on the poor and that worklessness is ‘corrosive of human dignity and sense of identity’.
Mr Cameron sharply reminded the churchmen that under the Coalition there are 1.75million more people in work, the tax threshold for the low-paid has gone up to £10,000, and ‘we’ve created an economy with genuine growth, real jobs and real security’.
He added: ‘And I would say to the bishops, I hope they would welcome that because it does bring dignity, it does bring self reliance, it does enable people to provide for their families, it creates a stronger society as well as a stronger economy.’
His remarks signalled deep unhappiness in Downing Street over a major departure for the CofE, which has never before tried to swing public opinion in advance of an election, and a radical turn for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.
Yesterday’s document, published in the name of the CofE’s 51-member House of Bishops, called for continued membership of the EU, a re-think of the nuclear deterrent, and the end of the first-past-the-post voting system.
The bishops also declared that there has been ‘an ugly undercurrent of racism in every debate about immigration’ and said that to cut the international aid budget would be ‘globally irresponsible’.
One academic said the Church’s policies reflected the Greens, the Scottish Nationalists, and ‘perhaps a bit of Labour’.
Paul Whiteley, Professor of Government at the University of Essex, told the BBC it was ‘a long time since the Church of England aligned with the Conservative Party.’
There were also apparent gaps in the letter – advertised as ‘a call for the new direction that we believe our political life ought to take’.
It suggested families need ‘networks of friendship, neighbourliness and mutual support’ around them, and that this might be provided by ‘intermediate’ organisations such as housing associations, credit unions, or the Church itself.
The letter made no mention at all of marriage.
The letter, entitled Who Is My Neighbour?, called for a new vision in politics to move the country on from the welfare state introduced by Labour after 1945 or Lady Thatcher’s drive to break the grip of the unions after 1979.
It criticised the welfare state because voluntary efforts were ‘marginalised’ and because ‘dependence on state provision can undermine individual initiative and responsibility’.
However, it directed its main fire at the market economy.
‘Thatcher’s market revolution emphasised individualism, consumerism and the importance of the corporate sector to the extent that, far from returning to Victorian notions of social responsibility, the paradigm for all relationships became competitive individualism, consumption and the commercial contract, fragmenting social solidarity at many levels,’ it said.
Mr Cameron said during a visit to Hove: ‘I’m always keen for anyone to intervene in politics. But let’s look at what we’re doing to help people who are in work in our country.
‘We are creating many, many more jobs. 1.75million more people in work. We’re cutting taxes by saying you can earn £10,000 before you start paying any income tax at all and we’ve created an economy with genuine growth, real jobs and real security.’
His backbenchers were much fiercer. Conor Burns, co-chairman of the all-party group on the Holy See, said of the letter: ‘I find its naivety a bit depressing.
'On the nuclear deterrent, look at Iran – a very dangerous, hostile country trying to develop a nuclear weapon – look at what’s going on in Ukraine.
'This idea that we now live in this benign, stable, post-threat age is terribly naive.’
Mr Burns said the Church was ‘factually incorrect’ to say that the rich had not paid the most towards deficit reduction.
And he accused the bishops of wilfully ignoring the Government’s success in job creation.
Former Tory defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said the bishops’ letter was ‘tantamount to giving people advice on how to vote’.
He added: ‘It seems they have all the answers to the political issues – from a left-of-centre perspective.’
Archbishop Welby has made a number of interventions over the economy in recent months.
Some have provoked comparisons with 1985, when one of Mrs Thatcher’s senior colleagues described the CofE’s Faith in the City report as ‘Marxist’.
The Archbishop’s contribution to a book about the economy last month was resented by many Tories and business people, especially in the North of England.
He said: ‘There are entire towns and regions … that are being left trapped in an apparently inescapable economic downward spiral.’
State Dept. Spokeswoman: 'Christian Militant Group' Among 'Extremist Threats We Face'
People talk a lot about Islamic extremism and ISIS/ISIL (the guys who behead Christians, among others), but what about Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army?
"I don't remember people talking about that as much anymore, but that's a Christian militant group," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
She was making the point that terrorism "is not just a threat in one place" -- and it's not just Islamic:
"If you look at the Lord's Resistance Army and Kony, Joseph Kony -- I don't remember people talking about that as much anymore, but that's a Christian militant group. So there are a lot of different extremists threats we face, and there are different tools we have to go after each one of them."
According to an Associated Press report last November, "Kony's LRA comprises a few hundred fighters who are being hunted down by African Union troops as well as U.S. advisers." Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a "reign of terror" that has spanned more than two decades in Central Africa.
In October 2011, President Obama informed Congress that "I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield."
Obama noted that Kony's LRA "continues to commit atrocities" across Central Africa "that have a disproportionate impact on regional security."
In March 2014, Obama sent military aircraft and additional Special Operations forces to Uganda to assist in the search for Kony, who remains at large to this day.
On Wednesday, Harf noted that this week's White House summit on "countering violent extremism" involves "over 60 countries from around the world who are facing a number of different kinds of extremist threats," and are coming together to identify "best practices" in identifying potential terrorists and deterring them.
Harf also refused to back off her controversial comment on Monday, that "we cannot win this fight by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war."
"Look, in the short term, and I said this on "Hardball" the other night, we are killing them and we will continue killing ISIL terrorists that pose a threat to us...but in the longer term -- and this isn't specific to ISIL -- military commanders, politicians of both parties, counter-terrorism experts all agree that if you're going to prevent terrorist groups from spreading to other places and getting more recruits, you have to look at the root causes that can lead people to extremism.
"You have to do all of it, you have to take them on militarily, but you have to look at things like governance, like opportunity, so these groups aren't able to get more people to their cause, absolutely."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.