Man who refuses to register son’s birth loses High Court dispute with council

A man who refuses to register his son’s birth because he does not want the State to control the youngster has lost a High Court fight.

Council social services bosses with responsibility for the baby’s welfare had raised concern, after the man and his partner failed to register the birth, and asked a High Court judge to make a decision.

They said the boy’s parents were in breach of legislation governing the registration of births.

Mr Justice Hayden has now decided that the council involved is an “institutional parent” and a member of staff can step in and register the birth.

The judge considered the issue at a recent private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London and has outlined his decision in a written ruling published online.

He says the baby, who is a few months old, cannot be identified in media reports of the case but says Tower Hamlets Council in London is the local authority involved.

The judge said the boy had been placed into temporary council care because of concerns about his parents.

He was told that the couple’s parenting skills were being assessed before decisions about the boy’s long term future were made.

Mr Justice Hayden indicated that the couple’s decision not to register the birth stemmed from the boy’s father’s “unusual and somewhat eccentric” beliefs about the concept of personal “sovereignty”.

He said the boy’s mother was “not prepared” to register the birth herself, but was “not opposed” to somebody else registering it.

Barrister Chris Barnes had outlined concerns on behalf of Tower Hamlets Council and the boy’s father and mother aired their views.

“The essence of the father’s objection is his belief that registration will cause his son to become controlled by a State which he perceives to be authoritarian and capricious,” said the judge in his ruling.

“(The baby) has been given a name and surname but his father strenuously resists registration.”

He said the 1953 Birth and Deaths Registration Act required a birth to be registered within 42 days of a child being born.

“In this case, the 42-day period for registration has ended,” he added.

“It is manifestly in (the baby’s) best interest for his birth to be registered, in order that he may be recognised as a citizen and entitled to the benefits of such citizenship.”

He said the boy was in council care and, therefore, Tower Hamlets Council was an “institutional parent” and a representative could register the boy’s birth.

“I am satisfied that the local authority may intervene to assert its own parental responsibility … to register the birth,” said the judge.

“In these circumstances the local authority is the institutional parent.”

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