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Order prohibiting involvement of children in political activities set aside

Application for prohibited steps order to be re-heard

A father who is a UKIP candidate has won an appeal against a prohibited steps order that he should not involve his children in political activities.

In Re A and B (Prohibited Steps Order at Dispute Resolution Appointment) [2015] EWFC B16, HHJ Wildblood QC, sitting in the Family Court at Bristol, heard that the order was made by a district judge at a dispute resolution appointment involving five children. The prohibited steps order related to the two youngest children, both under ten years of age. The father is the primary carer of two of the older children and is a parliamentary candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party. The mother is the primary carer of the three younger children and holds different political views from those of the father. Each child spends significant amounts of time with the parent who is not the primary care of that child.

The order stated (inter alia):

i) By way of preamble, that the court held the view that it is inappropriate for young children to be actively engaged in political activities as they may be emotionally damaged by potentially hostile reactions from members of the public;

ii) By way of order, that neither parent is to involve the two youngest children actively in any political activity.

The father, in his application for permission to appeal the order, complained about the procedure adopted by the district judge, the lack of formality, the lack of notice, the absence of any examination of the factual basis, or the necessity, for the order.

HHJ Wildblood QC, hearing the appeal, set out a number of difficulties relating to the case, including the lack of notice concerning the issue, the lack of opportunity to contest the mother's contentions concerning the children's involvement, the possible invasion of the Article 8 rights of father and children and the definition of the order itself. 

The judge determined that the decision of the district judge was procedurally irregular and could not stand. He therefore gave permission to appeal and allowed the appeal. He directed that there be a rehearing of the issues that had been raised in the appeal before him.

The judgment is here.