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CARE: Re W (Placement: Evidential Basis of Threats) [2007] EWCA Civ 1255

Date:8 NOV 2007

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Lawrence Collins LJJ; 8 November 2007)

The child had been removed from the mother because her long-term partner was dangerous. The natural father and his wife sought to care for child. At trial it emerged that the mother had made threats against the father and his wife. The judge rejected the application by the father and his wife partly on the basis of these threats.

The threats had no evidential foundation, other than hearsay from the guardian and the mother's counsel; they had not been tested in court, and had been given undue importance by the judge. It was significant that the threats had emerged for the first time during the course of trial, and there must be the obvious possibility that they were either an emotional reaction to the trial, or purely strategic, designed to damage the father's case. The appeal was allowed and the case was to be reheard.