Senior judges criticise family court judge over handling of child care hearing

A family court judge has come under fire from two senior judges over the way she handled a hearing centred on the care of two children.

Lord Justice Peter Jackson and Mr Justice Moor said Judge Annabel Carr had not treated the children’s mother fairly during the private hearing at a family court in Sheffield in January.

The two appeal judges said Judge Carr’s behaviour had been “oppressive”.

They have ordered a new hearing before a different judge.

Lord Justice Jackson and Mr Justice Moor have outlined their complaints in a written ruling published on Thursday following a Court of Appeal hearing in London.

The two appeal judges, who both specialise in family court litigation, have not identified the two children in their ruling.

They explained how Judge Carr had made orders placing the two children into “interim care” pending decisions on their long-term futures after social services bosses at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (pictured) raised welfare concerns.

The children’s mother had challenged the orders made by Judge Carr.

She said she had been subjected to “improper judicial pressure” which led to the orders being made without her opposition.

“I regret that what occurred in this case fell well outside the proper exercise of the court’s powers,” said Lord Justice Jackson.

“There has been a serious procedural irregularity.”

He added: “The judge’s approach went far beyond ‘firmness’.”

Lord Justice Jackson said evidence outlined at the appeal hearing “amply substantiates” the woman’s case that her “consent or non-opposition” had not been “freely given”, but “secured by oppressive behaviour on the part of the judge in the form of inappropriate warnings and inducements”.

He said the woman “did not get a fair hearing”.

Mr Justice Moor said he agreed.

The two appeal judges listed some of the things Judge Carr had said at the hearing.

They said remarks included “oh, nonsense”, and “preposterous proposition you’re putting to me, it’ll fall on deaf ears”, and they said she had made an “entirely gratuitous statement” that “I shall probably send my findings, if I make any, to the police and require it goes to CPS and – see what happens”.

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