Court backs smacking parents’ adoption bid

A council decision to ban a couple from adopting because they once smacked their son for swearing was “bordering on the bizarre”, a judge has ruled.

The couple, referred to as Mr and Mrs A, wanted to adopt the baby half-sister of a little boy they adopted five years ago.

However, Newham Council refused their application because they had once smacked the little boy for swearing.

It even dismissed the findings of a review panel which described the parents as “strong, caring, sensitive, supportive and resourceful”.

A council official concluded: “Mr A does not appear to accept that corporal punishment should not be used. Such indications would normally mean an adoption application would be refused.”

However, Mr Justice Bennett has now ruled that the couple’s application to adopt the baby girl must be reconsidered.

He said the council’s decision was “unreasonable”, “bordering on the bizarre” and “in dangerous territory”.

The couple said they were “delighted” and have vowed to continue their fight to unite the siblings.

Last month, a bid to make smacking illegal failed to reach a vote in the Commons.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, has said that a ban on smacking “would be the wrong thing to do for children”.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is lawful for parents to use ‘reasonable chastisement’ as long as it does not leave more than a transitory mark on the child. In Scotland, smacking is allowed but use of implements, shaking or blows to the head is outlawed.