Social workers are still too keen to split up families, says Christopher Booker.
One of the most disturbing features of life in modern Britain has been the extraordinary powers given to social workers to seize children from their parents, too often – when those powers are abused – supported by the police and family courts.
What makes this still more alarming is the legal bar on reporting these episodes, supposedly to protect the children, which again too often works to protect the social workers themselves at the expense of the children.
Details of yet another shocking case, which comes to its climax in a county court in eastern England this week, have recently been placed in the House of Lords Library. This follows a comprehensive investigation carried out on behalf of the family by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, who, as a hereditary peer, does not sit in the Lords, but has passed his dossier both to an active life peer and to this column.
Until six weeks ago, Mr and Mrs Jones, as I must call them under reporting restrictions, lived happily with their three young children, two sons and a daughter, aged under 13.
Mr Jones, a business consultant, is related to various European royal families and his brother is a senior Army officer seconded to the UN.
If he has one weakness, as he admits, it is to refer to these connections, as he did to the heads of the schools attended by his two older children, saying that he was particularly concerned for their security.
He asked that he could be allowed to drive into the school grounds when picking up his daughter, because he did not want to leave her waiting, potentially vulnerable, in the road outside.
The headmistress agreed to this, but, concerned about other children's safety, contacted the local police, who in turn passed on their concerns to social services.
The result of this was that, on May 18, when Mr and Mr Jones, accompanied by their younger son, arrived at school to pick up their daughter, they were met by a group of strangers, one as it turned out a female social worker.
She asked, without explaining why or who she was, whether he was Mr Jones. When she three times refused to show him any ID, he was seized from behind by two policemen, handcuffed and put under arrest.
He was driven by a policeman to a nearby mental hospital where he was told that, because of "a number of concerns", he was being detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and "sectioned" under S.2 as of "unsound mind".
His wife, it turned out, had been similarly arrested, for loudly protesting at the handcuffing of her husband and the forcible seizing from her arms of her young son. The three children had been taken into care by social services