(Court of Appeal; Wall and Moses LJJ; 21 February 2007)
The maternal grandmother was seeking to become the long-term carer for the three children, aged 8, 5 and 3. The local authority assessment of the grandmother recorded significant positives in her commitment and ability to care for children, but expressed concern about the difficult relationship between the grandmother and the parents, which presented a risk of instability. The judge ordered a further assessment of the grandmother, which led to the local authority developing a new care plan under which the children would gradually move to the grandmother's care, with specific conditions relating to the children's contact with other adults including the parents. After the eldest child, having expressed opposition to living with the grandmother, alleged that the grandmother had allowed the mother to be present during contact, the local authority reverted to the care plan for adoption outside the family. Although the judge found that the mother had not in fact been present during the contact, the judge nonetheless excluded the grandmother as the children's long-term carer. The grandmother appealed.
Permission to appeal had been granted because the judge's decision would have been difficult to support if the only factor had been reliance on the expressed wishes of an 8-year-old child. However, the appeal would be dismissed because in fact the judge's decision had been based on the fact that the maternal grandmother would not be able to meet the needs of all three children, because of her relationship with the mother combined with the mother's unpredictability.