Siblings at heart of bungled child protection case to get new identities (From Haringey Independent)
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Siblings at heart of bungled child protection case to get new identities
Two children at the heart of a controversial court case are to be given new identities, a judge ruled on Friday.
The siblings, whose parents Gloria and Joseph Musa are in prison for child cruelty, were taken into care by Haringey Borough Council in 2012 and are currently living with an adoptive family.
The council was criticised for its handling of the case by Judge Justice Holman in April, who said that its failure to obey an earlier court order left him in “despair”.
The council apologised in court after social workers tried to change the children’s identities and prevent them from seeing their five older siblings, who are in foster homes, despite a High Court ruling that all of the children should retain direct contact.
However, on Friday Judge Justice Newton ruled that both the children’s forenames and surnames must now be changed “with immediate effect” in order to thwart attempts to abduct the children.
He also ended the 2012 contact order allowing “reasonable and direct contact” between the two younger children and their five older siblings, replacing it with an order allowing “indirect contact” through letters.
Referring to campaigners who have suggested that the separation of the children from their Nigerian parents is unfair, Mr Justice Newton said: "Here are children whose very security and future is being put in danger by those who seek to portray their position as an injustice."
In response to a letter written by the children’s mother from prison and claiming that a change of name would be “inhumane”, the judge said: “The court has to balance the irreconcilable.
"These children are at risk. This court has to contemplate what is effectively a radical change.
"Harm there will be if the change is approved, but harm is likely to occur if I don't."
The judge joined Mr Justice Holman in criticising Haringey Council for ending contact between the younger children and their siblings.
The council ended contact in December 2013, organising a “goodbye meeting”.
Mr Justice Holman said in April that he felt “a sense of utmost despair” with the case, which he described as “a frankly catastrophic situation”.
He added: “This local authority seems to have got itself in a position whereby it was possible to act and then did act in direct breach of the order of the court which had originally been made with reasons with which the local authority agreed.
“There seems to have been a great lack of communication between a range of different professionals so that in the end no one knew what had been directed by whom and when and why.”
The council’s director of children’s services apologised to the children in the wake of the criticism.
On Friday, Mr Justice Newton, said that the important thing was to now give the children “a secure, permanent and stable home far away from the glare of publicity.”