Cumbria CC v T (Discharge of Interveners) – Family Law Week case summary

October 5, 2020

In public law care proceedings in which the mother sought findings against eight interveners for sexual abuse of her 6 year old son and others, the court considered it was not necessary or proportionate to determine the findings of fact sought by the mother and that it was appropriate for each of the interveners to be discharged.

Background

These were public law care proceedings, brought by Cumbria County Council in July 2019 and which stayed the father’s private law application for a child arrangements order, issued in November 2018. The father’s private law application had been brought when contact between the child and his father had ceased, following the mother asserting that the child had made allegations against the father. The allegations were said to be indicative that the child had been sexually abused by his father and also encompassed the child’s elder half-sibling. The child’s allegations were said to also concern graphic violence and accounts of being exposed to bizarre actions of a sexual nature when in his father’s care.

The child currently does not wish to see his father and there has been no contact between them since September 2018, when the child was 4 years old.

The father has denied all allegations that the child has been sexually abused in his care, including by way of being exposed to sexual activity between others or to pornographic material.  Likewise, the interveners denied the allegations of sexual abuse made against them by the mother.

The child’s allegations were said to have been made primarily to his mother, although some of the allegations against the father only (not the interveners) were made to the child’s social worker and to police officers during an Achieving Better Evidence (ABE) interview, which may have had numerous leading and suggestive questions in breach of ABE guidance. Both of those instances (to the social worker and the police) were said to have followed the mother’s intervention.

In October 2019, two medical reports were inconclusive, but allowed for the possibility of anal abuse. In February 2020, the police confirmed they were taking no further action against the father. The interveners were never subject to any police investigation resulting from the child’s alleged statements to the mother relating to them.

In July 2019, Cumbria CC was granted an Interim Care Order with an interim care plan for the child to continue living in the care of his mother.

Read the full summary on Family Law Week.