Reaction to the latest High Court judgement in the case of child D
Rebecca Stevens, a family solicitor at Withy King, has worked, for the last nine months, on a pro bono basis on behalf of a father with learning disabilities who, together with his wife, is trying to prevent Swindon Borough Council from having their young son adopted.
Withy King has welcomed the latest judgement handed down today (7 January 2015) by the Head of Family Justice, Sir James Munby, in which Rebecca Stevens is again praised for her role in the case.
Ms Stevens said: “Although we are pleased that our client has been able to secure public funding at last, we remain concerned about the complex process involved in obtaining funding which would have been impossible for a person with learning disabilities to undertake on their own.
“It has been highlighted that a disproportionate amount of parents with learning difficulties face the prospect of losing their child through care proceedings because they do not have the ability to apply for funding or the means to defend themselves.
“It is essential that all parents and children are entitled to automatic public funding where the state intends to remove a child, regardless of what legal orders are in place at the time the decision to remove is made.
“Sadly, the lack of automatic legal aid in cases where the state intends to remove a child from their parents’ care, and where they seek to have a child placed for adoption, continues to be an unresolved issue at this time. This must change.”
A further hearing to resolve the issues is due to take place on 13 January culminating in a final hearing on 9 February.
For further information, please contact Natalie Birrell at NBPR on 07557 356860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Date of issue: 7 January 2015
Note to editors
Rebecca Stevens, who specialises in cases involving children, has provided her services free of charge because the parents of the child known as ‘D’ are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford private legal representation.
When deciding whether child ‘D’ should live with his parents, members of his wider family or, as argued by Swindon Borough Council, be adopted outside his family, Sir James Munby questioned the lack of funding available for the parents’ legal representation.
This case has received widespread public attention, turning the spotlight back onto the Government’s highly controversial legal aid cuts which have been blamed for preventing some of the most vulnerable members of society from accessing justice.
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