A mother who says her two youngest children were wrongly taken into care by Medway Council was given a six-month suspended prison sentence at the end of last month by Judge Richard Polden
Sara Root told Christian Voice her children were taken seven years ago for ‘emotional abuse’.
District Judge Graham Green made a judgment which will concern home-schoolers up and down the land.. Medway satisfied the judge the son and daughter were suffering the said emotional abuse due to home schooling. This had given them, said Medway’s Ian Scrivens, a ‘skewed view of the world’. Despite attending a primary school, playing with other children and going out to the park and the cinema, they were not ‘socialising.’
Sara Root was found guilty in July, as we reported at the time. But in July we did not feel able to identify the mother. Now that she has been sentenced, the court authorised this legal statement:
In relation to C00ME422. On 30th August 2017, at Maidstone County Court, His Honour Judge Polden sentenced Sara Root to a custodial sentence of six months, suspended for twelve months, for contempt of court. The basis of that sentence was that: (a) she had breached an injunction made under section 12 of the Administration of Justice 1960 on 13th December 2011 on ten occasions; (b) she was in breach of an undertaking she gave to the court on 12th December 2016; and (c) she failed to comply with reporting restrictions made at the same hearing. All of the breaches were occasioned by publishing material relating to care proceedings on Facebook and failing to remove it.
Ms Root is now applying to the High Court to remove the injunctions. Her two children are now young adults aged respectively 18 and 19, she told Christian Voice. Therefore they are no longer subject to any care order. Not surprisingly, she would like to make contact with them again. But in a bizarre twist, Medway Council have applied for non-molestation orders on behalf of the two young adults. Their only evidence appears to be hearsay.
Social worker Kelly Hopper had to admit in court she was not even in touch with Ms Root’s children. Meanwhile, ‘support worker’ Lucy Conn has made a statement. We understand this discloses that the young man involved does not even want Medway Council to speak on his behalf. The case will be heard behind closed doors at the Royal Courts of Justice on 28th September.
Contempt removes some secrecy
The family courts are shrouded in secrecy. Those in social services and the child protection industry say this is to protect the children involved. But it also means parents cannot easily bring injustices to the light. The media are also loathe to report cases. Editors fear they may fall foul of contempt of court rules. So in practice, the secrecy rules protect the system.
The only reason Sara Root and Eugene Lukjanenko can be named is because Medway Council brought actions against them for contempt of court, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. Family court judges still hear such cases. Nevertheless, the cases have to be held in open court in the civil court, rather than the family court. This is because the British legal jurisdictions do not ‘disappear’ people. Anyone facing jail must be named. This does not mean the media can then name any children involved, nor do we want to. But we can and shall name local authorities and social workers.
Medway Council rooftop protest
Meanwhile, concert pianist Eugene Lukjanenko occupied the porch roof of Medway Council offices in Chatham last week. He remains in dispute with Medway over access to his son in care. However, above all, he wants his son returned, and his son, who is 14, also wants to come home. With worrying similarities to the Sara Root case, Mr Lukjanenko also says his son his taken away for alleged ’emotional abuse’.
A group of people on the ground also protested against forced adoption & foster care. Two police cars were called to the protest, where four people were spotted handing out leaflets. A spokesman from the police said: ‘Officers have been made aware of a protest on a roof in Dock Road, Chatham. Officers were called to the scene at 7.21am on Tuesday 5 September 2017.’
One protester told the local KentOnline newspaper they were calling on the government to investigate the way in which children are taken into care.
Mr Lukjanenko came down from the roof voluntarily at 7.30pm. He was arrested on suspicion of aggravated criminal trespass and causing a public nuisance.
Earlier this year he was twice found in contempt of court for publishing details of case in social media. Mr Lukjanenko was sentenced to 56 days suspended for a year in January 2017 and again, for a separate offence, in July.
Emotional abuse in Medway Council area
The Government’s most recent figures show wide variations in numbers of children taken into care and reasons given. The discrepancy shows up widely in the contrast between the two councils in Kent. These are Kent County Council and, funnily enough, Medway Council.
Kent County Council took 1,049 children into care in 2015-2016. The population of Kent CC area at the last census was 1,541,900. Under 20’s were 360,605. So a Kent child has a 0.29% chance of being ‘in care’.
Medway Council took 539 children into care in 2015-2016. The population of Medway’s council area at the last census was 263,925. Under 20’s were 74,000. So a Medway child has a 0.73% chance of being ‘in care’.
In Kent County Council, 656 children were taken for neglect, 63% of the total and higher than the national average for England. The Council took 203 children for ‘emotional abuse’. That is 19%, which is lower than England’s national average.
But in Medway, 237 children (44%) were taken for neglect and 257 (48%) for emotional abuse. Given Medway’s far lower population, are we really being asked to accept that children in Chatham and Rochester are suffering ‘emotional abuse’ (whatever that is) over six times more than children in Canterbury and Ramsgate?
Or is something rather odd going on in Medway Council Social Services? And if it is, are we justified, to use the old Watergate expression, to ‘follow the money’?