The behaviour of social workers, and especially their use of the family courts system, is an area of great sensitivity. It therefore follows that the reporting of such actions should be equally sensitive, and consider the facts of the matter before rushing to publish. This, as Zelo Street regulars will know, does not trouble Christopher Booker, who has appointed himself judge and jury once again.
Behold the face of trustworthy journalism (not)
Booker has significant previous when it comes to social workers: early last year, after the BBC had secured access to the workings of Bristol social services, he produced a characteristically sneering and dismissive column which held, more or less, that nobody concerned knew what they were doing or talking about, that it was all mere propaganda, and that only Himself Personally Now was fit to judge.
He is also on record, uniquely, in being excoriated by Judge Bellamy the previous April, who concluded “Mr Booker's articles contain significant factual errors and omissions”. So when allowing Booker to pontificate on the case of an Italian woman sectioned under the Mental Health Act, whose baby was then delivered by caesarean section and taken into care, the Telegraph knew what to expect.
“‘Operate on this mother so that we can take her baby’” is Booker’s headline, and note the quote marks, because this statement was not made by Essex social services. “A High Court judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, had given the social workers permission to arrange for the child to be delivered” asserts Booker. The only conclusion to be reached is that social workers ordered the C-section.
Except that they could not, and therefore did not: So what did happen? Essex County Council has given us the facts: “it was the Health Trust's clinical decision to apply to the High Court for permissions to deliver her unborn baby by caesarean section because of concerns about risks to mother and child”. Booker caught lying, and not for the first time. And, as the man said, there’s more.
“She was not allowed to see her baby daughter” says Booker. Essex CC? “The mother was able to see her baby on the day of birth and the following day”. Booker lying again. Then he misleads: “her two daughters, who were with her mother back in Italy”. Reality? “the mother has two other children which she is unable to care for due to orders made by the Italian authorities”.
This is a complex and sensitive case, and more information will no doubt emerge. But that does not excuse Booker’s appallingly dishonest behaviour, which has led to bandwagon-jumping from MPs John Hemming, and most hyperbolically, Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, who has asserted “Essex children’s services ... are unaccountable and out of control ... dictators who abuse their powers”
Christopher Booker is a disgrace to his profession. No change there, then.