In 2019, the National Legal Service team were appointed to help Lucy* (not her real name), a desperate mother who had social services threatening to remove her children alleging she had inflicted injury on one of the children.
This situation occurred when a concerned Lucy took one of her children to A&E after noticing the child had discomfort in one leg and appeared unable to weight bear. Initially Lucy was told to go home however she insisted on a second opinion due to her concern for the child’s obvious discomfort. Medical staff then carried out scans which revealed fractures to the leg and alleged non-accidental Injury.
Suspecting non accidental injury the hospital medics involved the police and social services. Lucy and her husband were understandably incredibly concerned by the sudden situation they found themselves in.
Lucy stayed with the child at hospital whilst tests were carried out however when the child was ready to be discharged social services informed Lucy they would be applying to the court for an interim care order and would not want either parent caring for the children pending full assessments.
Other family members were urgently assessed with a view to caring for the children in their home for the duration of the court proceedings. Thankfully, there was a positive match which stopped the children being placed into the care of the local authority.
What ensued was a difficult and hard case presented by the local authority (social services). At times, the professional conduct of the local authority was questionable and therefore the case demanded the highest level of professionalism and dedication from the National Legal Service team.
The team quickly appointed four independent experts to gather evidence whilst ensuring care, empathy and support was provided to the patents daily, often out of hours as they progressed through a deeply traumatic experience.
The fact-finding hearing was difficult for Lucy’s family however, the NLS legal team successfully presented their case and evidence resulting in all findings alleged by the local authority being shown to be unproven.
The team made an application for an immediate reunification of the parents and children, which was successful. A further request for all local authority involvement to cease was also successful.
The case was conducted by our Head of Family Department Ms Richards, a specialist care practitioner and accredited solicitor with a tenacious approach to this area of work. Despite her vast experience in this area Ms Richards regards this as one of the most difficult cases she has had to deal with due to the stance of the local authority making the extremely successful outcome for Lucy and her family and the NLS legal team all the more rewarding.