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Parents launch legal claim against the Children’s Minister

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A COUPLE who were questioned over child neglect are claiming damages from the Children’s Minister and the States police chief over an alleged breach of human rights by taking their children without consent for two weeks.

Senator Sam Mézec

Royal Court documents filed by the couple, who the JEP has chosen not to name, concern an incident which saw their children taken into foster care.

Court papers explain how the children were removed from their parents because the father had tied cardboard on top of the youngest child’s cot at night so he would not climb out.

It came to light when another of the children told an educational welfare officer that his younger brother was tied in the cot at night and was locked in.

He also told the officer he was worried his father might hit his mother after a previous incident.

This prompted an investigation, with the mother being arrested and the couple both questioned by the police. The children were placed with foster carers.

The parents claim the children were removed by the minister without their consent and without lawful authority. They further claim the removal was neither necessary nor proportionate, arguing it would have been sufficient to ask for the cardboard to be removed and not used again, and for the father to vacate the home in the short term.

The couple also alleged the police retained the children in foster care without lawful authority and when it was not necessary.

In response, the Children’s Minister, currently Senator Sam Mézec, has said in court papers that written consent was given from the mother and she was informed she could withdraw that consent at any point.

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He also states that at all times the children were held on a lawful basis, through being in the minister’s care and under police protective powers and an emergency protection order.

Following the expiry of the emergency order, the children were then returned to their parents.

The minister also says the children’s removal was necessary because of concerns about one of the children.

A response from the States police chief’s office has also denied the claims made by the couple, stating that the police were under an obligation to do what was reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare.

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