1. The father is an impassioned witness. He struck me as forceful and intense. I have watched him in contact recordings, and whilst I agree that that is far from ideal, he did quite well managing those calls. However, he revealed his true colours in the call of the 1st March when he confronted L****i in a way which was painfully insensitive. In an instant he destroyed much of the careful capital that he had accrued over time in what I would describe as an inappropriate demonstration of supressed anger and frustration coming to the surface. It would be no surprise if L***** was shocked and upset by that. However, I treat the more recent reports by the mother which she says show L***** to have been profoundly affected with extreme caution, not least because of L******’s discussions with Ms B**p which appear to still hold the father in a fairly positive light and wanting to see him. Dr B will be better placed to evaluate that evidence.

  2. Despite that, he has shown very significant commitment to his case and to his children. He clings to his narrative. This case has had a massive impact on his life and that of his new family. He relies on his good character, his moral and Christian outlook on life, the fact that despite the serious allegations he hasrepeated had to face, Local Social Services have no concerns about him as a father or as an individual. I find that he has been deeply affected, and the intensity of his evidence demonstrates this. His presentation of his case and of his evidence has been impressive.

  1. I found his absolute denial of anything sexually inappropriate towards L**** compelling, and when I set that against the other evidence, it is likely that if she felt something, he was unaware of it. In coming to that conclusion, I have applied all caution given the seriousness of the allegation. He is clearly a father who has relished the time that he has spent with his children because it has been so difficult to achieve. He is tactile, loving and perhaps has not appreciated the effect of full-on physical contact, particularly on L**** against a background where opportunities for intimacy and familiarity have been so hard-won and infrequent. The children have, after all, had a very disrupted experience of him and there have been distances in their relationship, created not only by the disrupted chronology but also by the mother herself, when she has moulded their perceptions of his role in their lives and eroded his fatherhood by allowing them to call him by his first name as they do.

  2. When listening to the recordings of contact, I did note an urgency to direct those meetings, to make sure that in the time allowed he had an impact on the children. It is likely that the continued confined circumstances of contact, the constant fear of an allegation by the children or the mother and the pressures of this case and the events surrounding his relationship with the children have created huge difficulties for him. His experiences over time have undoubtedly left him battered and there are edges to his evidence which clearly show that.

  1. His intensity of feeling towards the mother is writ large. The communication difficulties between the parties are really profound and it is clear that he has no trust in her or her intentions.

  2. The mother was precise and controlled in evidence. I have asked myself if the impact of the history has led to her suffering from some kind of trauma, but I am not qualified to diagnose this and leave that to the expert. I found her to be strangely detached from the issues in the case and the seriousness of Court proceedings. Despite saying she would not refuse contact I had the clear impression that she places little value on it. In fact, my unusual impression was that she is detached from the wholly unsatisfactory contact history, and does not readily accept the fact that the relationship between herself and the father is likely to have had a huge impact on the children. Her reaction, in summary, appears to me to have been that she has better and more pressing things to do in caring for four children than to promote and allow contact. It is clearly not her priority, rather I gained the impression that she views contact and the father as an interference with her life. Not wishing to be unfair to her or the father as witnesses in a difficult courtroom setting, I look forward to hearing from Dr B who may disagree from a psychological point of view with my rough impression. Nevertheless, the mother’s emotions are highly likely to have influenced the children’s sense of their father as a safe person, but she does not accept that she has in any way influenced the children in their feelings towards their father.

  3. Her attitude to the Court process was also surprising. Despite the fact she told me that she had not recevied hearing notices, she did nothing to inquire what was happening. She has breached court orders and failed repeatedly to respond to requests by the father for contact whether by himself or whether via solicitors. She is in breach of the current orders.

  1. Making all allowances for the difficulties of giving evidence, I did not find her to be a truthful about her actions, and I did not find her to be very insightful. I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that for her own reasons she has at times fabricated evidence. She was pressed by Ms L.C to the possibility that the incidents with L**** were not in fact sexual, but she could not bring herself to fully reflect on that or accept that this might not have been the case.

  2. I am also satisfied that she has reacted to the father coming forward to seek contact by raising allegations about him. She appears to explain this by saying that she has not known what else to do, but she is an intelligent and articulate person who has already gone through the Court in a protracted battle over O, her eldest son, so I treat that assertion with some caution.

  3. Her evidence as regards Mr N (her current partner) caused me some concern. His is a convicted rapist with a cloud of other unresolved allegations of the most serious kind which, though not proven within the criminal justice system, must continue to hold wider concern. The mother told me that she supports him in his appeal and that because he has been assessed as not posing a risk to children, she is able to take them to see him in prison. This will need to be better understood, but I found her endorsement of him to be unsettling and his presence in the lives of the children adds a serious dimension to their current experiences.

  4. Her self-justification was strong and at the same time she appeared to be somewhat unconcerned. To her credit she did not strongly condemn the father,and she has also very clearly acknowledged that contact itself has been positive. There is a risk of over-analysing the mother due to her detached approach to this case and I shall leave the expert to clarify further.



76. Taking the mother’s case first, my findings are that I exclude the possibility that the father sexually assaulted L**** by pressing his penis into her lower abdomen. I find that L*****, on two occasions during the period between 21st and 26thDecember 2020, felt something which she believed was his penis coming into contact with her, and that made her feel uncomfortable. Whilst I cannot find that the mother deliberately and purposefully coached L***** to make allegations, it is likely that her reactions at the time to what L**** told her impacted on L*****.


77. I have read and viewed all the material. L*****i spoke to her first of all on the 9th January 2021. I have studied the ABE interview with L**** which took place on 19th January 2021. Prior to that, the mother raised her own rape allegations against the father, apparently triggered by L****’s own allegations. She was interviewed on 12th January for a “free-recall” interview about her own allegation of rape against the father, before L****’s ABE. It is not difficult to infer that the emotional atmosphere around L**** following her allegation and prior to her own ABE interview must have been extraordinary. It is inconceivable that L**** would not have picked up on what was going on with the mother.

  1. There is little in terms of L****’s interview itself to comment upon, apart from one moment where the interviewed reflects what L**** has described as a “bump” as a “bulge” which, whilst careless, does not interfere with the quality of the interview. There is sufficient evidence to allow me to come to a conclusion in relation to L****’s allegations despite the fact that they have not been tested in a Court setting.

  2. L**** began the interview directly by saying that she “always” felt the father’s penis. This was eventually clarified, and the focus must be on the two occasions over the Christmas period 2020 when she says she felt it when she was greeted and hugged by him when she and the other children were dropped off, and during that period when they all watched a film together on the sofa and he hugged her after that.

  3. The father says that nothing of the sort as alleged ever happened. He completely refutes the allegation and even the possibility that L**** might have felt something.

  1. Returning to the history, the handover took place in the presence of two of the father’s friends who have given unchallenged evidence. L**** and the other children spent this Christmas time in a busy household where his wife and her two children were also present throughout and her evidence is also unchallenged. The contact was in general terms enjoyed by everyone, including L*** save in the one aspect which is raised.

  2. The mother states that there had been a previous issue of L**** complaining that her father kissed her on the mouth and that she did not like it. That had to be resolved.

  3. The father reported that on 6th January, before L**** made her allegation, that the mother had not facilitated the video contact, but there was a short phone call with the children before the mother snatched the phone away and started to shout at him about video calls. He reported this immediately to CAFCASS and Social Services. L****’s allegations were made on the 9th, three days later. The atmosphere with the mother had therefore been unpleasantly stirred up before L**** made her allegation, and L**** may have been aware of this and present to witness the call or its aftermath. I find that there was likely to have been an unsettling atmosphere generated on this date.

  4. On 10th January 2021, the mother contacted the school to report that the night before L**** had spoken to her about what had happened during the contact. Her letter to the school appears at D55 of the bundle. The mother reported that she herself was in a state of shock. It appears that the mother videoed L**** at this time, but she told me that the video was with the police. That was not mentioned to the Social Worker by them. I have not seen it. It raises a number of unanswered questions about what was in fact said and how the video was made.

  1. It is only now that the mother has in her evidence clarified the crucial conversation which she alleges triggered the report as regards L****’s allegations. Whilst she appeared to be able to recount their conversation with surprising detail, my impression is that she was embroidering what was said and in what sequence. That is not surprising given the distance in time between that conversation and her account, but I treat her evidence about this with great caution. For example, she told me that L**** said “as he was hugging him he pulled her towards him and it felt much deeper than a hug”. That does not reflect what L***** said in her ABE interview. Nor does it have the quality of a description by a child of L*****’s age, but for balance, nor does the way she describes her experiences in her ABE interview.

  2. The mother told me that L**** had told her that she sucked her stomach in when her father hugged her.

  3. The mother did tell me that L**** said that she did not want it to happen next time she went to her dad’s home. If correct, it would suggest that L****did not envisage no further contact as a result of what she said occurred.

  4. L*****’s report then led the mother to make an immediate allegation of her own about the father’s sexual treatment of her. She confirmed that this was as a result of L****’s allegations. That adds to the context of the allegation, as regards the mother’s negative feelings towards the father at that time.

  1. L**** spoke to G.L at Social Services and told her about her father being “inappropriate” and feeling uncomfortable when visiting him, “however she used very adult language to describe this and didn’t want to explore this in detail as she didn’t want to talk about it”. L**** in her ABE interview appeared very confident and unembarrassed in her use of language but also very young, in as much as she did not appear to automatically connect her father’s penis with something sexual: she believed it was for “weeing” and that seemed to me to be age appropriate.

  2. She also spoke to Ms L about instances of poor parenting about her dad “but it was not clear if these were from her own experiences or what she had been told by others as one example she gave was of her dad never changing her nappy” She also said that her mum never lied. “I wonder” states Ms L “whether some of L****’s views about her father are from A**** (the mother) and she believes these to be true because of the belief that A**** never lies”.

  3. The statement that her mother never, ever lies is of some real concern. It is not clear if that comes from L****’s impression of the mother, or as a result of the mother impressing this on her, but it is a real indicator of the dominance of the mother in her world.

  4. Obviously, where parents do not get on, their opinions will not always be kept from the children, but this I found was a perceptive observation by Ms L, despite the mother’s denials. Ms L’s conclusion is that it is unclear why the children hold views about their father which are not necessarily positive.

  5. Importantly, L**** appears to have held on to the narrative that something sexually inappropriate between her and her father occurred and that is likely to have coloured her lived experience since. Given that the mother until now has also maintained that the father has been capable of behaving in what would have been a highly inappropriate behaviour, pressing an erect or semi-erect penis into her stomach, this will also add to the background picture of L****’s lived experience during this time.

  1. Returning to L****’s narrative, it has clearly grown from something which was uncomfortable for her to something significant in her life.

  2. If the mother’s account is to be believed, L**** reported feeling something she believed to be her father’s penis between her vagina and navel when he hugged her face-to-face on those two occasions. That is what she spoke about in her interview several days later. I have to view her initial words to her mother with great caution and the passage of time between what she first said and the ABE interview, though relatively short, was against the background I have described.

  3. I have considered the precision of her account and the way she refers specifically to a place “between her vagina and her belly button”. That has concerned me, and I have asked myself if that precision was directed by the mother or at the very least clarified by her in discussion with L****. I cannot safely find that it was, and there is no room for suspicion.

  4. I have considered the likelihood of what she has alleged given the evident height difference between L**** and her father. He is and was clearly taller than her and it is difficult to conceive that his groin would have been in contact with her in the precise area she described with such unusually graphic language. Mr and Mrs I's testimony describe the father as bending down to hug L**** on 21st December 2021.

  1. However, that is not conclusive. The father says that he always has his phone in his right-hand pocket and his keys in his left-hand pocket. One the occasion that L**** says she felt something when he hugged her by the car, and in her ABE she immediately retorted that he had left his phone in the car on that occasion. I wondered how she knew that. She must have been very observant to come up with such a precise recall. About the incident in the home, when she says he had been stroking her on the head and shoulders whilst they were sitting on the sofa, and when they got up from the sofa he hugged her face-to-face, there is no mention of his phone. He failed to mention always having his phone in his pocket in his police interview, which he explains as having appeared inconsequential given the enormity of the situation at the time.

  2. I have to ask whether the mother had coached L****. I find that there is insufficient evidence to find to the requisite standard that she actually coached her, by which I mean insufficient evidence to find that the mother sat her down and taught her what to say about her father. In her ABE interview she offers a lot of different pieces of information, spontaneously. There is no rehearsed quality to what she says in my judgment but I have noted what seems to me to the unusual precision of L****s identification of her lower abdomen. The interview leads me to find that what L**** was telling was important to her, because she had been made to feel uncomfortable by feeling something she identified as her father’s penis , but that is all that can be safely taken from it.

  3. Had she been specifically coached, the direct quality to her confident and rapid speech would not in my judgment have come so easily to her. There is balance in her view of her father because of the many positives as well and in my judgment, that would not have been the case had she been coached. The father’s allegation that the mother had deliberately coached L**** cannot be found to the requisite standard.

  1. Nevertheless, I find it is likely that against a background of such long-standing conflict and exposure to the mother’s emotions, a great deal more was in play when L**** spoke to her mother than is now visible. I have found the mother’s account of her first conversation to have been embroidered. Her mother’s immediate shocked reaction must also have been a feature of her experience around these events. She told me she breathed in audibly.

  2. L**** was and is growing up and becoming aware of bodies and physical functions. I believe that father when he told me that it is unlikely that she saw him naked when taking a shower, but she has seen her little brother naked and is well aware of his penis and the fact that it can become erect. I have considered her descriptions of what she says she felt, and whilst I do find that she believed that she felt something, the best I can find is that when he hugged her she felt uncomfortable about coming into contact with him, whatever it was she believed she could feel.

  3. It would not be surprising if at times L**** has found her father’s physical attentions quite intense. For example, she is clearly sensitive about her hair. She has complained that he has commented about it. This is not a father who has enjoyed regular, intimate contact with his children, and he may not have had much opportunity to attune to the feelings of all his children. The physicality of the relationship may have been something L**** was not wholly attuned to, and he too may not have picked up on that possibility.

  1. I am satisfied that he was unaware that L**** had felt face-on hugging uncomfortable, or that she thought she felt his penis. She too says that he did not know about it.

  2. I find that it is unlikely that the father hugged L**** in a sexual way. I find that he did hug L**** face-to-face but I cannot be sufficiently certain that his groin area or penis came into contact with the area between L****’s vagina ( which I take to be her term for her vulva) and her belly-button. The first occasion she described at the car was at a simple greeting, with hugs, and with the others closely around. There is nothing to suggest that he was sexually aroused at the time, and nothing to suggest that he would have had the opportunity to deliberately press his penis into L****’s lower abdomen in some obvious way. On the second occasion when they got up from the sofa, again, there is nothing to suggest that he would have had the opportunity to press his penis into L***’s lower abdomen in some obvious way when hugging her. There were others around at the time. I find it unlikely that the father was sexually aroused or intending to press his penis into L***. It would have been an extremely public assault, which I find is unlikely to have occurred, on the totality of the evidence of the circumstances L**** reports.

  3. Further, his wife R.L has made a statement which is unchallenged. She paints a wholly normal and enjoyable picture of Christmas time. She gives a picture of the family watching TV on the sofa together squeezed up, the children being so lively that they had to be told to sit nicely. They were keen to sit beside their father. That keenness does not equate with L**** having been in some kind of sexual contact with her father when being greeted by a hug on arrival. It would appear that if she had been made uncomfortable, it was not sufficient to get in the way of her snuggling up on the sofa with him and her siblings.

  1. Further, J and K.I have provided a statement about what occurred at the car handover on 21st December 2021. They saw V*** and L**** being hugged by their father who bent down to do so. That does not equate with genital to lower abdomen contact between himself and L****. A*** was crying at the time and they say that the father was also keen when hugging the girls to reach A*** who was crying.

  2. However, I am also clear that L**** believes she felt something she identified as his penis. I cannot say what it was.

  3. I find that L**** did feel uncomfortable when her father hugged her because of something coming into contact with her body.

  4. I therefore exclude the possibility that this was a sexual or deliberate action by the father and find that he was unaware that she had felt something and was uncomfortable about it.

  5. Given the importance of this allegation in the scheme of this case, there is a clear need for her to be told in the most sensitive way possible that her father did not sexually assault her.

  6. I find that this allegation has been seized upon by the mother in the dense emotional climate around the father and his contact. I am not able to find sufficient evidence that she specifically coached L****, If there are any reservations about the way the allegations came about and the surrounding picture, reservations are not evidence. Even so, the mother is and was not neutral. She was not neutral when L**** first spoke to her. She was not neutral when she decided immediately thereafter to make rape allegations against the father. She was not neutral in the months that have followed, and I see no evidence that until she finally viewed the ABE interview at Court, (and not before) that she had given any great thought to an alternative possibility, and even now, she maintains that the father stroking L****’s hair and arms on the sofa still leads her to believe that he sexually assaulted her.

  1. L**** has gone on to own the allegation and develop it.

  2. My findings therefore will be a lot for her to take on board at this distance in time, and after being called a liar by her father and being validated by her mother. They will also be food for thought for the mother, and food for thought for the father because he has so strongly maintained his allegation of deliberate coaching.

    The father’s allegations about the mother.


116. I find that the mother has repeatedly reacted to the father’s pursuit of contact by raising allegations against him. I find that she repeatedly failed to respond to his requests for contact and to orders of the Court.

  1. Whilst I have not found specific evidence to find or infer that she has deliberately coached the children, I find that she has exerted her influence over the children, directly and/or indirectly, and has not protected them from her feelings about the father or from hearing things said about him. I find that she has marginalised the father’s role by allowing the children to view him as one of three daddies and permitting them to refer to him as E**** (his first name).

  2. I find that she allowed third parties to become involved in the conflict between them resulting in the father suffering harassment.

  3. I find that the numerous allegations made by the mother and the consequences of those allegations have been a powerful backdrop to the children’s lived experience. I find that the mother has also manufactured evidence against the father on more than one occasion to cast him in a negative light.

  4. As regards whether the children have been alienated, I intend to leave a conclusive view to Dr B, however, I find that the available evidence of the children’s positive views about their father and their actual wish to see him isnot indicative of children who have been fully alienated, despite the mother’s influence.


   121. The father has sought to establish that the mother has alienated the children by her conduct. His Scott Schedule does not match the extent of the matters he has finally raised, but the mother has been aware of his case all along. He asserts that there has been a pattern of conduct by her of making unfounded malicious false allegations and refusing contact for no good reason, despite the fact that when it has occurred contact has been very positive for the children. He asserts that the mother coaches them. His case is that this now amounts to parental alienation.

  1. The mother denies all this and to summarise she says that she has not known what to do so has had to continually revert to police and social services for guidance. She denies alienating the children or talking to them negatively about their father. She told me that they were aware that they don’t communicate, and that they have been spoken to so frequently that that has had an impact on them. She says she does not oppose contact so long as it is safe, but she clearly does not maintain that that is the case. She has evidenced a number of more recent contacts which the father himself has missed on seven occasions between the 4th January 2022 and 2nd February 2022.

  2. The time-based narrative unfolds in this way:-

  3. There are distinct periods during which allegations have arisen, the first beginning in Brighton, after the parties separated, followed by the father’s move away, leading to the orders of 2019. This represents the apex of the conflict between the parents with numerous historical allegations. The next period follows the order of July 2019, and the events up to January 2021, and finally there are the events thereafter in the long run-up to this hearing.

  4. I believe it is necessary to determine the father’s allegations, because if he is correct. there are risks to the future of contact if the patterns he says are established reoccur. I have been alert to any possible attempt by him to manipulate history to fit his agenda as it is so highly focussed. I have at all times weighed up the evidence of the mother, although it does not deal in great detail with some of the allegations so her oral evidence has supplemented her statements.

  1. As long ago as 2015, the father was seeking to establish regular contact with the children but faced a lack of engagement and response from the mother. It is likely that she experienced him as intrusive at best. He has exhibited a number of serious letters over time which never recevied an answer from the mother. I found her excuses to be weak, including that she was not using her email at times.

  2. In November 2015 following the mother’s initial reported concerns about the father harassing her, she was advised by the police to make arrangements for the children but never contacted the father to do so. She told me she was scared of him, although any problems in relation to contact were clearly related to their relationship rather than to contact itself.

  3. After the parties separated, there was some unsupervised contact in 2016 becoming supervised in 2016 - 2017 which was without difficulty. The mother accepts that this was the case. There had not been any previous concerns as regards contact according to the father. He was the one to contact Social services at that time to ask for support given the lack of response from the mother. That lack of response is established. Contact thereafter appears to have been positive. This is an important thread, because when contact has taken place it has almost always been positive. There are no reports I am aware of of the children dreading going or returning in a state. That is a good indication that whatever was happing in terms of the father’s contact, they children were pleased to see him and spend time with him, and whilst they have commented negatively about him, nevertheless when they are with him or speaking with him they are not apparently reluctant to engage with him. Had the mother been systematically pressurising them, I find that this is unlikely to have been the case. It does not, however, exclude the possibility from the balance of the evidence that she protected them from her views and emotions about him.

  1. Contact was finally stopped by the mother in January 2017. There is a useful chronology from that time set out in the first report of L.B of Cafcass dated 7th December 2018.

  2. Further there are letters from the father’s solicitors to which no response was received. A draft letter was prepared on 20th January` which the mother says she never saw, however, a strong follow-up letter was sent to the mother on 21st February 2021 which she completely ignored. She told me “I didn’t realise I had to respond”.

  3. The father left for a break in Gran Canaria with two friends between 25th February and 4th March, and during his absence the mother made further allegations to the Social Worker,Pilate, but the dates she gave were when the father had been abroad and there is the unchallenged evidence of Mr and Mrs I to support this.

  4. Between 2015 and 2018 the catalogue of recorded incidents between the parents is long, and it is the father, not the mother, who appears for the most part to have been on the receiving end of the mother’s behaviour. Advice was repeatedly meted out to them to solve their issues.

  1. Alongside this the father’s mental health has been evidenced showing a long history of anxiety and depression. This appears to have settled more recently. He asserts with evidence in support that the relationship between himself and the mother was characterised by her abusive behaviour towards him for which he sought counselling, and his GP Dr V wrote that Mr L had confirmed to him that the post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety he reported on 3 occasions between June and December 2016 were as a result of domestic violence and abuse.

  2. On 2nd May 2016 the mother called the police when the father was let into the house by the children. Ad hoc contact had been taking place prior to this. I find that the father was not made aware that he was not welcome by the mother before this as he alleges, having not been informed of the earlier allegation from November 2015. He states that she phoned the police prior to his arrival, implying that she was setting him up. She reported that she was “afraid of him turning up and taking the children away”. In her evidence to me this changed to her being afraid that the father wanted to talk to the children about the break-up of their marriage. Again advice was given about making arrangements and the father’s assertion that he told the police that he did not believe that the mother would do that, and insisted that the police remain so that a date could be given by the mother for the next contact was not challenged. I find that the mother was anxious about the father as she told me, but also that she decided that it would assist her case if she called out the police, which is her repeated recourse. This appears to have marked the end of any regular agreed contact.

  1. The father reported that following this, on 11th May 2016, he had been assaulted by a friend of the mother. Whilst I have not heard evidence other than that of the parties, I accept the father’s account that he was attacked by a friend of the mother and it is likely that this was as a result of her expressing her hostility towards the father. His account to the police, which has not been challenged by that mother, was that Mr J.D turned up at his home and said he was a friend of the mother, and screamed and shouted at him and accused him of taking her phone, poking him in the face. Only the mother could have given Mr J.D the father’s address, involving him in the crime that was reported.

  2. The father personally posted a letter to the mother on 15th May to request contact, but was made aware that she had reported him to the police for harassment. This was as a result of the fathers contact. She contacted the police yet again and made a number of allegations about things the father said to the children as well as making an historical report of an incident of violence towards her when she had been pregnant. She was advised to seek support for domestic abuse but it is not clear if she did so. That incident has never been pursued. Further, in the police records there was a report of that date that the father had harassed her and the children in the post office, despite there being plenty of witnesses there at the time. This was also a matter for no further action.

  3. Abusive texts were sent to the father on the 16th May, by Mr J.D, alleging that he had stolen the mother’s phone. Mr J.D must have been given his number by the mother. The father had stopped paying for the phone, but it was never stolen from her, on his account. He ascribes this to the mother inciting this person and I find that this occurred as he says. Whilst I accept that the father continually refers to the fact that all the mother’s allegations have been NFA’d, it is clear that Mr J.D did believe from the specificity of the texts that Mr Locke had the phone. He cannot simply rely on the police taking no further action as proof that he did not take the mother’s phone. What he can reply upon is that the mother told Mr J.D that he had taken it, and I find that she did so and as a result the father was harassed by him. The father has evidenced the concerns at large in relation to both Mr J.Dearden and his partner Ms H. Mr J.D has subsequently lost his daugher with a child protection order and his partner Ms H has died of an alcohoil and drug overdose.

  1. On 26th or 28th May, the mother reported the father for shouting out at the children and approaching them, having been served with a PIN. A PIN was issued on the 23rd May 2018 and the incident occurred after this.

  2. On 27th June, the mother went to the police and alleged the father had stolen her bank card and stolen money out of her account. She then reported him for continually harassing her by threatening her and turning up at school and contacting her. He was arrested, his phone taken off him and his home was searched. He was and bailed not to contact the mother. Again the matter was NFA’d.

  3. He further reported that someone had been inside his house on 30th June 2016 and that the mother had sent someone round to assault him.

  4. On 14th July the father reported that the mother and the friend who had assaulted him started to shout at him in the street and he was chased by her friend.

  5. On 4th October 2016, the mother reported the father for tampering with her Facebook account, and was again advised to sort out arrangements for the children.

  1. On 18th October the father again reported having been abused in the street, this time by another of the mother’s friends S.T, implying that the mother was extending her antipathy towards the father to others and giving them permission to intimidate him. I find that she is likely to have involved others in their conflict when the children were of course in her sole care, extending the concern about what they are likely to have heard about him.

  2. In 2017, the father alleges that on 1st June after a chance meeting with the mother, her friend followed him home and he had to call the police as a result. At the time the children had been present. He was talking to the children and reported that the mother’s friend started to scream and shout at him and he feared he was about to be hit.

  3. On the very same day, a friend of the mother’s reported the father filming the children in the park and asking where his daughter was. I am struck by this allegation although I have not heard the evidence. It involves a third-party friend of the mother, clearly aware of their conflict. It also involves an allegation that the father was in the same place at the same time as the mother, which is a thread of much if this earlier evidence. I have no basis to make any findings about this.I appreciate that they lived in the same area.

  4. The mother alleged that she believed the father had tampered with her front door lock, but there is nothing in support of that, it is just a further allegation.

  5. On 27th June 2017 he reported the mother to the police following a chance encounter in the post office in Brighton when she screamed at him in the presence of one of the children which he again reported to the police. The mother said that he had blocked her exit.

  1. On 27th July 2017, the mother reported to the police that she and the children were out with friends, that Mr L approached the children, picked up L**** and V**** separately and then when to the buggy where A*** was strapped in and tried to pick him out of the buggy. She described asking him to put them down and when he refused, she took the children from him and put them on the floor. The CCTV footage disproves her account. He embraced the children one by one hugging them and putting them back on the floor. They did not struggle. The police found that there were no offences apparent and that the mother’s account was not consistent with the CCTV footage. I find that she took advantage to embroider and dramatise the incident by stating that she had to take the children off their father and added this to her armoury of what have at times been malicious allegations.

  2. By this time they had a “new Dad”, who ( as described by them) whom they referred to as Tata, and his three children had been incorporated into their lives. They had begun to form very negative views about their father whom they now called E***** (his first name).

  3. In 2018 the father met his new wife and moved away from Brighton to R**** as a result on his account of the situation with the mother.

  4. That takes the matter up to the proceedings in 2018.

  5. At the point of the father’s application for contact, when the mother was served with the application she went to the police and raised an allegation that the children had made a serious allegation of cruelty and neglect about events that had occurred against him three years previously. I treat these allegations with extreme caution. The father believes that the mother coached the children to make them. Significantly she told the police that the children had only then raised these historical allegations with her, which is why she went to the police. She made it clear to the police that she did not want to set up any official childarrangements as the father was not “in their lives”. She told them that the father had not had contact with them from a long time. She spotlighted the children as complainants. Further she alleged that L**** had told her that Mr L had told the children that he was going to die when they were swimming. He denies this and his denials have purchase given that at the time, the children were having supervised contact. The mother never contacted him to ask him about what L**** had said. It is likely that if these things were said by L*** that she took it literally. They were not being taken swimming by him during supervised contact. The mother described L**** as being devastated by this. However it is clear that the genesis of supervised contact at this time was L****’s report that Mr L had told her that she was going to die. That was yet another major setback in the children’s ability to have unfettered, regular contact with their father. The mother’s immediate response to his application was to raise a serious set of allegations, despite the fact that she has accepted that contact prior to this went well.

  1. Evidentially it is difficult at this distance in time to unpick what happened, but there were allegations emanating from the mother, and resulting in great upset for the children, particularly L****.

  2. The father absolutely denies that he said anything to L**** about dying. I cannot make a safe finding at this distance in time about what the father did or did not say, or whether there was a misunderstanding. It would appear that L*** believed that he said this to her. Given that this all occurred at such a specific time, I cannot discount the strength of the mother’s influence on her, her validation of what L**** tells her and the powerful dynamics at play. It is unsafe to make a finding about whether or not this was said, but the timing and the atmosphere are significant.

   155.  I do, indeed find that the timing of the allegations by the mother was as a specific reaction to the application for contact and had very serious consequences for the father and the children, at a time when she was their dominant parental figure. The entire set of allegations of neglect are highly questionable.

   156.  Sadly, these unreliable and historical allegations resulted in the children being interviewed by the police. They took no further action, and Social Services decided there were no further safeguarding issues. It is notable that when the police spoke to the children, there was no evidence that the incidents of neglect they spoke about had happened. It was clear that what they had said was what they had heard, rather than what they had seen. It is clear, and I find, that the only person likely to have been the influence over the children in these circumstances was the mother. The mother’s oral evidence to me that the children cannot have picked up on her negative feelings was beyond credibility and I find that this must have been the case. This is the closest that the father can come in proving that the mother has coached the children. I find that she influenced them, and this casts serious doubt on her ability at that time to refrain from involving them and telling them things adverse to the father.

  1. She also alleged that the father approached the children in Churchill square on 6th August 2018 and that a PIN had been raised as a result. The PIN was not verified. She told me now that her mother had seen him taking photographs of the children, she did not see him, and then she told me that she had seen him going off. This must be untrue. I have heard and accepted the evidence of an honest witness, Mr Mitchell, who I find was with the father at the relevant time. The allegation was therefore malicious and made in the context of the contact dispute. I can only infer that the mother concocted this allegation to add to her complaints against the father.

  2. Further the father was advised to report the mother for harassment which he did, on 4th December 2018. His report echoes his case, that the mother’s allegations coincide with his requests for contact or something in his life such his new relationship. Rather than a calculated move, I accept that the father went to the police out of desperation. He provided the police with clear allegations and also told them of other evidence that would be available but they decided that there was insufficient information to warrant a crime. He is asking me to order the mother not to make any further malicious allegations, but there are no specific tools for that available to the Court.

  3. Contact by now had been suspended for a very lengthy period. The S 7 report from December 2018 encapsulates the situation. Ms B was concerned about the negativity towards the father on the children’s behalf and was clear that L****’s views appeared to have been influenced by the negative things she had heard about her father, but also by his disappearance from their lives for such a long period. The mother’s accounts to CAFCASS were negative about the father and I note that she told Ms B that he never changed their nappies, something picked up by Ms L the social worker as having been adopted by them. Ms B was concerned about the mother’s ability to promote their relationship with their father, reflecting on O***’s case (her eldest son by a different father).

  1. To summarise the children’s experience up to this point, it had been coloured by allegation after allegation and exposure to conflict and disrupted contact. The father reported being seriously harassed by the mother through her friends, and I have no reason to doubt that the mother had enlisted her friends to make it clear to the father that he was not safe from their attentions. I find that he was indeed the subject of aggression by the mother’s friends. The parents’ paths kept crossing in public. It is a powerful pattern of conflict. I have no doubt that the father’s behaviour was not welcomed by the mother, and no doubt she must have been keen to exclude him from the children’s lives. I find that she had negatively influenced the children against their father.

  2. Despite this, progress was made towards establishing contact thanks to the auspices of CAFCASS and the high-quality intervention that led to the orders being made on 2nd July 2019.

  3. Within a short space of time after contact had resumed with the input of a CCI which had gone well and was by then in the form of staying contact, the father was obliged to issue his application for enforcement in the circumstances of the pandemic as set out above, including the mother terminating even indirect phone contact.

  4. The mother had within a short time of the orders sought support from the Local Authority complaining that the father was causing the emotional harm because of what he was saying to the children. If that was the case, it suggests the mother’s openness to hearing negative things from the children about their father, whether true or not. For balance, I have also seen the father’s blunt insistence towards the children which lends authenticity to the fact that he has a rather strong way of making an impression on them. It is likely that he has told them that they have only one real father and he wants to be called Daddy, not E, but objectively it might be said that there is little harm in that.

   164. Contact continued until January 2021 until the next set of catastrophic allegations, and resumed as recorded above, with the orders for indirect contact remaining in place.

   165. The children’s situation since that time is relevant to the father’s case, in that the Guardian has reported on 13th July 2021 on their current views of their father. Although the views are mixed, their views about a resumption of contact are really positive.

   166. Mr Nde (the new babys father) disappeared from their lives and that of his baby in June 2021. He had become one of one of the children’s “three dads”. Despite his negative views, A*** was still very positive about seeing his father. V**** also liked going to see him and was fine about remote contact. L**** did not really mind about seeing her father and was happy to do so. Her recommendation is for contact to resume. That positive indication indicates to me if the mother and their experiences had in the past impacted on them, they have not been alienated to the point of wanting not to see their father. In any consideration of alienation, that is a crucial aspect.

  1. My concern is that the strong patterns in this evidence of the mother’s reactions to the father’s attempts to establish contact and other behaviours as set out above are capable, when viewed as a whole, to amount to a course of conduct capable of alienating the children were it to continue. Again I hope that this can be further explored but on the evidence, there is a risk that this is an established dynamic.

  2. I have a further concern that L****, who appears to be emotionally fragile, may find the decision of the Court about her allegations to be confusing or upsetting and that might have implications so will need extremely careful handing.

  3. However, without hearing particular argument, it is clear that the way is paved by the Guardian for the resumption of contact. The father does not present a risk of sexual harm to L*** or any of the children and that is my firm finding.

  4. The Guardian has suggested monthly contact, supervised by a third party or an independent Social Worker and there is still an order for video contact which must happen.