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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Council 'unlawful' in child case
Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council says it acted in the children's best interests
A local authority acted unlawfully when it took a child into care after his blind father persisted in driving his family, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

After being granted a court order, Liverpool City Council asked for police help. An officer found the boy and moved him from home to foster parents.

The action breached the family's right to respect for family life under the Human Rights Act, said three judges.

Liverpool City Council said it had acted in the children's best interests.

Lord Justice Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Thorpe and Lord Justice Lloyd, said the case raised an important question concerning the powers of the police to remove children who were in need of emergency protection.

The judgment shows that the authority pursued the correct legal proceedings to safeguard the children
Liverpool City Council

All the family, except one of the children - a boy aged three - are profoundly deaf. The father also suffers from Usher's Syndrome, which means he has tunnel vision and night blindness.

He was registered blind in 2000 and has been without a valid driving licence since September 1999.

The family lived in Liverpool at the time of the incident in September 2001.

Social services were particularly concerned that, despite the assurances of both parents, the father persisted in driving a car with the children as passengers.

Police assistance

Social workers learned that the father had driven from Liverpool to Derby with his wife and the three boys to take two of the children to the Royal School for the Deaf for four days of assessment.

After a court granted the council an emergency protection order, a social worker tried to enforce it but found that the family were out in the car with two of their children.

She requested police assistance to find one of the children, the three-year-old. He was removed from his home to foster parents by an officer.

Liverpool City Council said: "While there are points for us to take on board from the court's findings as to the execution of a court order between the police and the local authority, the judgment shows that the authority pursued the correct legal proceedings to safeguard the children."

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