The Court of Appeal has upheld a child’s allegations that she had been sexually abused by her father.
The case involved an 11-year-old girl who was referred to only as B during legal proceedings.
The court heard that she had lived with her parents and younger sister, with whom she had shared the same bed. In April 2019, the parent of one of B's school friends told the head teacher that B had said that her father was sexually touching her and that her mother hit her.
The head teacher spoke to B, who made several allegations about her parents. A police officer and social worker visited the school and spoke to B in the head teacher's presence. B described how her father would get into bed with her and touch her body.
The children were moved to a foster home. B then took part in an interview under the Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) procedure, which was conducted by the police officer who had spoken to her at school.
During the interview, B continued to describe her father as abusive.
The local authority started care proceedings in respect of both children. In June 2019, the children moved to live with their maternal grandparents. They had regular contact with their mother and contact with their father later resumed on a supervised basis.
In September, the police concluded their investigation and told the father that no charges were to be brought against him. A psychological assessment of B suggested that she might be on the autistic spectrum.
At the fact-finding hearing, oral evidence was given by the head teacher, the social worker, the police officer and the parents, and a video recording of the ABE interview was made available to the judge.
The parents accepted that, on occasion, the father would get into bed with the children, but they submitted that B's allegations were untrue.
The court found that the father had touched B in a sexually inappropriate way. The judge accepted that the mother did not know what was happening and although she was responsible for unreasonable chastisement, it was not at a level sufficient to justify continued separation from the children.
They could therefore return to live with their mother on condition that the father was absent.
The Court of Appeal upheld that decision.
If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 02080040065, by email at email@example.com or using the form below.
Case Citations:  EWCA Civ 767RE (1) B (2) Y (CHILDREN) sub nom FATHER v (1) X BOROUGH COUNCIL (2) MOTHER (3-4) B & Y (BY THEIR CHILDREN'S GUARDIAN) (2020)CA (Civ Div) (Peter Jackson LJ, Asplin LJ, Baker LJ)
The contents of this article is general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.