Dr Ben Harper, Who ‘Created’ Quotes for a Family Court Report, has History

Judge's Hammer Coming Down on Gavel

Dr Ben Harper’s report was excluded from evidence in a family court case by Mr Justice Hayden when purported quotes from a mother during medical examination were found to be, “created by Dr Harper and attributed to the Mother”

Recently Family Law Week reported on the case of Dr Ben Harper (archive here), who was severely criticised by a High Court judge. The case was also covered by Suesspicious Minds (archive here). Matthew Hopkins News reveals that the ‘good’ doctor has a history.

In F (A Minor), Re [2016] EWHC 2149 Dr Ben Harper was commissioned to write a psychological report on the mother of children who are the subject of care proceedings. He wrote an extensive, 70 page report and justified his findings in part by quoting the mother.

In the report, a number of passages were enclosed In italicised quotation marks making strident comments describing previous experts as, for example, “liars”. The only problem with this is that these quotes were made up. The judge found them to be, “[…] created by Dr Harper and attributed to the Mother […]” and also, “[…] a manipulation of material which is wholly unacceptable and, at very least, falls far below the standard that any Court is entitled to expect of any expert witness”.

That much could be easily found on Family Law Week … but it is not the first time a judge has looked askance at a report of Dr Ben Harper. I did a case law search and found three public reported cases naming Dr Ben Harper. One was non-contentious – he had carried out a capacity assessment and found a mother had capacity. The other case was A and B v Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council [2014] EWFC 47.

Dr Ben Harper was a lone voice in the case. Social services considered that, whilst the parents were unsuitable carers, a child (C), should be placed with a familial aunt. The children’s independent guardian advocated that the child should be placed with the aunt. The independent social worker considered that the child should be placed with the aunt.

Harper was instructed to assess the family on paper without ever meeting them, by consent. The judge thought this strange and criticised the decision (paragraph 70). The judge said that, “”Paper based” exercises of this kind are neither necessary nor justifiable nor, frankly, affordable”. However he noted it was not the fault of Dr Ben Harper, “[…] He merely did what he was asked and instructed to do”.

Where the judge did criticise Dr Harper was at paragraph 79, “Dr Harper gave one answer that I found rather curious and difficult to accept.” The answer so criticised was Harper’s statement, “I do not see that contact with a father who is unable to meet the psychological needs of a child as a full time carer should be used as a reason for a family placement”.

The judge added, “[…] it would, I believe, be correct and fair to regard Dr Harper as, at least on balance, favouring adoption to a move, and I so treat him”.

So just to summarise for the audience, of the three easily found reported cases involving Dr Harper –

  • in one he ‘created’ quotes from a parent
  • in another he never met the family but was nonetheless prepared not only to advocate adoption but prepared to do so even when opposing the Director of Social Services, the independent social worker and the guardian

Under the circumstances, legal representatives of parents in child care proceedings may feel they have grounds to object to Dr Ben Harper as an expert witness.

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This entry was posted in Family Courts, Free Speech, Human Rights, Law by Samuel Collingwood Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Samuel Collingwood Smith

Samuel Collingwood Smith was born in the north of England, but his family moved south early in his life and spent most of his early years in Welwyn Garden City before attending Queen Mary, University of London, where he studied Economics. Smith was employed as a Labour Party fundraiser in the 2001 General Election, and as a Labour Party Organiser in the 2005 General Election. In 2005 Smith was elected as a Borough Councillor for Haldens Ward on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and served for 3 years until 2008. In 2009 Smith changed sides to the Conservative party citing division within Labour ranks, Labour broken promises and Conservative improvements to local services. In 2012 Smith started to study a Graduate Diploma in Law, passing in 2014. Smith then moved on to studying a Master's Degree in Law combined with an LPC, receiving an LL.M LPC (with Commendation) in January 2017. During his study, Smith assisted several individuals in high profile court cases as a McKenzie Friend - in one case being praised by Parliamentary petition for his charitable work and legal skills. Smith is also the author of this blog, Matthew Hopkins News, that deals with case law around Family and Mental Capacity issues. The blog also opposes online drama and abuse and criticises extreme-left politicians.

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