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Mr Justice MacDonald reminds professionals of responsibilities when considering allegations by children

Actions of some professionals ‘materially prejudiced the welfare of both children’

In AS, TH, BC, NC and SH (False Allegations of Abuse) [2016] EWHC 532 (Fam) Mr Justice MacDonald has reminded professionals of the guidance they ought to follow when involved in cases in which allegations of abuse are made by children.

The case concerned an application by the mother of the children N and S, two boys, for findings in respect of a series of allegations made against the father of S, TH.

From August 2014 to June 2015 the mother and the boys made a series of serious allegations against TH (considered below in 'findings'). The allegations were of serious emotional, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by TH against her and both children. Over the course of a nine-day fact-finding hearing Mr Justice MacDonald considered the written and oral evidence of numerous witnesses, to include Scottish and English police officers, social workers, refuge workers, teachers from the boys' schools, CAMHS support workers, the mother and TH. It was not considered appropriate for the children to give evidence.

Mr Justice MacDonald, in finding none of the allegations made by the mother to be proved, and in fact finding them to be false, criticised in detail the conduct of the professionals. In setting out the legal framework reference was made to the following significant guidance to be followed:

In the context of the above guidance the court found that the actions of certain professionals actively contributed to the difficulties in assessing the evidence, 'materially prejudiced the welfare of both children' and contributed to the emotional harm the children had suffered. These breaches included:

The court did not make a single finding sought by the mother. At TH's request it went further, and made findings that each of the allegations made by the mother was false.

For the judgment and for a detailed case summary (of which this is an abbreviated version) by Esther Lieu of 3PB, click here.