Norfolk

Norfolk 'whistleblower' foster carer wins court ruling

A Norfolk foster parent who claims two teenagers were unfairly removed from his care after he criticised the council has won a High Court challenge.

Raymond Bewry, of Norwich, was a "whistleblower" who raised concerns about the treatment of fostered asylum seeker children, the court heard.

He claims Norfolk County Council then failed to consult him before deciding the boys should not be returned to him.

A judge ruled the council "erred in law" by ignoring his Mr Bewry's wishes.

Mr Bewry, of St Martins Road, became an approved foster carer for the county council in 2006.

'Respite care' request

He had looked after both teenage boys for several months and said he had received plaudits from social workers for his past care.

Mr Justice Holman said: "He [Mr Bewry] says it all went wrong as a result of him making a 'whistleblower' complaint in early May 2009 about the treatment by the local authority of certain unaccompanied asylum seeking children."

Mr Bewry asked for a period of "respite care" for the boys in August 2009, to give him a break, the court heard.

A subsequent meeting between social workers prompted the decision not to return the two boys to his care.

It was also decided to suspend further foster placements with Mr Bewry, the court heard, and no children have been placed with him since then.

The court heard Mr Bewry was not informed in advance of the meeting and no-one from the council sought to ascertain his wishes and feelings.

Mr Bewry's challenge focused on the council's failure to consult with him before resolving to remove the children.

Mr Justice Holman granted him a declaration that the council "erred" in deciding that his "wishes and feelings" were irrelevant to the children's future.

He noted that social workers were chiefly concerned by Mr Bewry's alleged failure to "engage" with them, and that there was "growing exasperation" over his stance.

He added: "It seems to me that the fact there are a number of concerns tends to increase rather than decrease the appropriateness of some consultation.

"If there are concerns they need to be expressed and views obtained."

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