LAW REPORT : Confession in Care Case Confidential
Tan, Ying Hui, The Independent (London, England)
Oxfordshire County Council v P (a minor).
Family Division (Mr Justice Ward).
20 January 1995.
Admissions by a mother about her child's injuries to the guardian ad litem in care proceedings were confidential and could not be disclosed to the police without the leave of the court.
Mr Justice Ward terminated the appointment of the guardian ad litem.
Care proceedings were commenced and the guardian ad litem appointed under the Children Act 1989 when a 12-week-old baby was referred to hospital with non-accidental injuries.
The mother made admissions to the guardian ad litem who informed the social services department and the court in writing. The social services department informed the police who obtained a witness statement from the guardian ad litem attesting to the admissions.
The Crown Prosecution Service wished to rely on the guardian ad litem's statement to prove criminal charges against the mother. The mother was now reluctant to be fully frank in the care proceedings and asked for the guardian ad litem to be removed.
Frances Judd (County Solicitor) for the council; Jonathan Baker (Quiney Chamberlain) for the parents; Patrick Smith (solicitor) for the guardian ad litem; Richard Bond (Official Solicitor) as amicus curiae.
MR JUSTICE WARD said that under the Children Act and rules, the guardian's report and the guardian's letter to the court were protected from disclosure.
There was a duty on all parties to make full and frank disclosure of all matters material to the welfare of children whether those matters were favourable to or adverse to their own particular case. The parties and their advisers were under a duty to thecourt to be full and frank in dealing with the check-list factors in section 1(3). …