The Daily Mail reported on 20 June that a judge had ruled that “Grandparents must NEVER be told their daughter had twins…as mother plans to give babies away”.
A number of people tweeted to ask what judgment this related to and we recognized it instantly as one that we had read weeks ago when it was first published on BAILII.
One source of their confusion may have been the inaccurate statement that “A couple in their sixties must never be told that they have twin grandchildren, a High Court judge ruled yesterday.”
But actually it wasn’t “yesterday” (19 June, that is). The matter was heard on 9 May, the judgment is dated 24 May and as we say, it was published some weeks ago.
We’re not quite sure why The Daily Mail would inaccurately report the date of judgment, but most likely “yesterday” is when they first spotted the judgment (or perhaps there was some time lag between the piece being submitted and published due to the focus of recent news coverage on Grenfell, and terrorism and nobody updated the text).
Anyway, apart from that relatively benign but curious inaccuracy, the piece is pretty accurate. It quotes faithfully and in a balanced way from the judgment itself (one reason we can be confident we’re talking about the same case, that and the fact that the circumstances are almost unique – relinquishment of children at birth is very rare in this country these days, relinquishment of twins must be a very rare event, and the non-disclosure of the existence of the children to the grandparents is also unusual).
Whilst the body of the article is a fair synopsis, the headline itself is not really quite accurate – although the judge did issue a declaration confirming that the local authority didn’t have to notify the grandparents about the child, he didn’t make any order preventing that. Probably a distinction without a difference in practice since nobody wanted to tell the grandparents, but a technically incorrect headline. Furthermore, it is quite possible that the judgment will be placed on the babies’ file so that in due course, when they are older, they can be told their life story, and this could lead to them seeking out their biological family. Whether by then the oblivious grandparents will still be alive is unknown – but it is still possible that they will find out one day that they are the grandparents of twins.
As the news report is a pretty good summary, and the judgment is available for you to read, we won’t make this post longer by setting out the facts again. Suffice to say this is an unique and very sad case.
The judgment can be found here. M & N (Twins: Relinquished Babies: Parentage), Re  EWFC 31 (24 May 2017).
Feature Pic courtesy of Abhijit Chendvankar on Flickr (via Creative Commons Licence)