Social Workers Cleared of Negligent Delay

A troubled mother who accused social workers of negligently delaying her rescue from the tender mercies of her violent father when she was a little girl has had her hopes of substantial compensation dashed by the Court of Appeal.

The 26-year-old claimed that a seven-month delay in removing her from the family home and placing her in foster care when she was aged six had overshadowed her life ever since – and tragically resulted in her own young daughter being taken into care due to concerns about her ability to look after the girl properly.

She argued that the warning signs of child abuse were there to be seen and had demanded robust action. Although she had been placed on the ‘at risk’ register after her father violently assaulted her, social workers had failed to act quickly enough to save her from psychological scars and a lifetime of trauma.

However, her claim against Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council was dismissed by a judge who ruled that social workers could not be blamed for her suffering and rejected arguments that she had not been given sufficient or suitable therapy to enable her to come to terms with her childhood experiences.

In dismissing her challenge to that decision, the Court found that, however strongly she disagreed with the judge’s conclusions, he had made no error of law and had dealt with the evidence in an entirely conventional manner. Although the outcome of the case was an undoubted disappointment to her, her grounds of appeal stood no real prospect of success.