Social worker awarded £20,000 by human rights court after judge’s ‘manifestly unfair’ criticisms left her unable to work.

Community Care reported the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found the practitioner’s right to respect for her private life had been violated as a result of the judge’s allegations that she had lied to the family court and failed to uphold professional guidelines while investigating alleged sexual abuse.

The UK government has been ordered to pay a £20,600 in damages for breaches of her human rights.

It is reported that the local authority she was working for as a locum terminated her contract directly on receiving the judgment. She was left effectively unemployable for two years, until the Court of Appeal struck the judge’s words from the record in a 2016 judgment on the grounds that her Article 8 rights would be breached if his “manifestly unfair” criticisms were allowed to stand.

But, diagnosed with fibromyalgia caused by stress in 2015, she has been unable to work since. In 2018, a psychiatrist found that the “highly traumatic experience” of receiving the family court judge’s findings had caused post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, she was left unable to claim compensation in the domestic courts because she would have been unable to prove that the family court judge had acted in bad faith in making his criticisms. In 2017, she was granted permission to take her case to the ECtHR as the only route open for her to claim compensation.

The ECtHR found that the absence of an effective remedy to the breach of her right to private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights constituted a further violation of her rights, under Article 13 of the convention.

The social work had claimed £1,057,406 in compensation for past and future lost earnings and medical care, as well as £40,000 in non-pecuniary (non-financial) damages.

However, Yonko Grozev, president of the ECtHR, said it had to reject the social worker’s main claim for financial damages as the Court of Appeal had only criticised the process by which the original judge had reached and shared his findings; it had not considered whether the allegations were justified.

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