The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has published guidance on working with children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance sets out arrangements for...
(Family Division; Stephen Wildblood QC; 14 September 2006)
The mother's allegations of sexual abuse by the father and by the paternal grandmother had been abandoned by the mother in the original contact proceedings; notwithstanding this, the mother went on to obtain sexual abuse treatment for children from various sources who treated allegations as proved. In the course of the therapeutic sessions the children had made a number of allegations. At a fact-finding hearing ordered on the father's application to enforce contact, a veracity expert reported and gave oral evidence that the children's allegations should be believed, but on the following day the expert wrote to the judge seeking to qualify her evidence, and acknowledging flaws in her approach.
Releasing a version of the judgment for publication as an example of a flawed enquiry into false allegations of sexual abuse, the judge rejected the mother's allegations, finding that the children had not been sexually abused by the father, by the paternal grandmother, or at all. The veracity expert had contended, wrongly, that the allegations should be believed; she had not qualified her evidence sufficiently, in particular giving insufficient weight to the fact that she was dealing with therapeutic sessions, not forensic interviews, and the fact that such sessions were outwith her area of expertise. Although therapeutic sessions could provide a source of forensic evidence, in this case they bore little if any forensic value.