'Too late': Couple cleared of abuse give up fight to regain care of child

'Too late': Couple cleared of abuse give up fight to regain care of child

A couple have given up a fight to regain care of their child despite being cleared of abuse at a criminal trial.

The man and woman had complained of being victims of a miscarriage of justice because their child had been adopted when they have not been convicted of any offence.

And James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, is currently re-examining the case at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

But they now say that taking the child away from the adoptive parents would not be the "right thing".

Detail of the couple's change of heart emerged on Wednesday in the latest ruling on the case by Judge Munby, who is president of the Family Division of the UK High Court.

He said nothing could be reported which might identify the child - including the child's sex.

He had outlined the background to the case in a preliminary ruling published in June.

He referred to the child only as ''X'' and described the circumstances of the case as ''exceedingly unhappy''.

Local authority social services staff raised concerns shortly after the child was born, he said.

Social workers said the child had suffered ''various injuries''.

In early 2013 a family court judge had made a number of findings against the couple, after hearing evidence from three medical experts and the child's parents.

Later that year a judge ruled that the child should be taken from the care of his parents and placed for adoption.

In 2014 the child was placed with prospective adoptive parents - and in 2015 they adopted the child after a judge made an adoption order.

Judge Munby said criminal proceedings had also started, and the couple had been accused of harming the child and prosecuted.

'The most serious and profound consequences'

A criminal trial had begun in 2015 - but prosecutors abandoned the prosecution after expert evidence was given to the jury.

The couple were acquitted - on the direction of the trial judge - on the basis that there was no case to answer. They had then challenged the findings made by the family court judge in 2013.

Judge Munby had started to re-consider evidence at a fresh hearing in mid-October.

He had explained how the couple had made it clear that if they succeeded in overturning the 2013 findings they would seek a revocation of the adoption order and try to regain care of their child.

ends

But Judge Munby said - in the ruling published on Wednesday - that the couple had now changed their minds.

The judge said both had notified the court that they no longer wished to challenge the "findings of fact" made by a family judge in 2013.

He said the couple had outlined their feelings in witness statements.

'It is too late'

"When (we) were acquitted by the judge in the crown court, we felt for the first time that we had been believed," the child's mother had said.

"People would believe that we had not and would never hurt (X) ... It gave us new hope that we might be able to see (X) again one day and that (X) might even be allowed to come back and live with us.

"We knew from the beginning that even if the family court cleared us this time, we might not get (X) back...

"We now know that it is too late to move (X) from the adoptive parents. This would not be the right thing for (X)."

She added: "I want (X) to know that we would never hurt (X), but I cannot go through (another) long court hearing where I am accused again of lying to cover up hurting (X) or to cover up for (the father) hurting (X).

"This nightmare has been going on now for years. I cannot take any more.

"We have thought a lot about the reasons for carrying on, but too much time has passed and we are suffering so much as a result of all of this and the thought of re-living it all over again."

The child's mother had told Judge Munby how her health had been "going downhill".

"The pain that we feel at the loss of (X) is like the pain you feel when a loved one dies. That's probably the best way I can describe it," she said. "One minute (X) was in our arms and the next (X) was gone.

"We were accused of causing harm to our own child, something that we did not do and which has had the most serious and profound consequences for (X) and for both of our families."

She added: "We have been robbed of one of our most basic rights - to be happy and have a family - by people who know nothing about us, who seemed to assume the worst before they even knew the facts.

"The whole family court process left us feeling that we were presumed guilty until proven innocent and that is just so very wrong."

She said she had decided she could not "continue with this re-hearing" after a "lot of thought and discussion" with (X's) father and her family.


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