Musa siblings to get new identities

Andover Advertiser: Both the siblings' parents are serving jail sentences for child cruelty and not allowed contact
Both the siblings' parents are serving jail sentences for child cruelty and not allowed contact

Two children at the centre of a long-running High Court case that has "attracted notoriety" are to be given new identities because of fears that their security is in danger.

The Musa siblings have been placed together with an adoptive family by the London Borough of Haringey.

Both their parents are currently serving jail sentences for child cruelty and not allowed contact.

There has also been a dispute over the contact the children, referred to as "A and B", should have with five elder siblings who are in foster homes.

The legal proceedings which have involved several judges began in 2010 and have attracted widespread publicity on the internet and the media.

The court heard there have been threats to abduct the children, and campaigners are seeking to locate them, portraying them as victims of injustice.

Family Division judge Mr Justice Newton said: "It seems to me, very sadly, these children require a new identity.

"The evidence is all one way - and strongly one way - that the court has no alternative but to change both their surnames and forenames with immediate effect."

The judge also ended a 2012 contact order that allowed "reasonable direct contact" between the elder children and A and B.

He substituted it with one allowing only "indirect contact", which means, it is understood, communication through letters and cards.

The judge said he had absolutely no reason to think all the children did not get on well together, but "lapses and pressures" caused by the case constrained him to make that order "for the time being".

The judge referred to "the notoriety this case has attracted".

He said that during this week's hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London a demonstration was held and "there were somewhat agitated people outside court" and leaflets and fliers were being distributed.

Because the family was from a Nigerian background, a member of the Nigerian High Commission in London had come to court and the case had been discussed in the Nigerian Parliament.

The judge said he was hearing the case in public because of the publicity it had already generated and because "secrecy breeds suspicion and leads to the most extraordinary and ill informed results".

The judge said the mother of A and B had issued a statement from prison dissociating herself from the "unbridled" campaign aimed at seeking to locate her children.

"Here are children whose very security and future is being put in danger by those who seek to portray their position as an injustice."

It was ironic, said the judge, that the campaign had led to a situation in which the vulnerable and innocent children and their adopters had no idea "what lies around any corner they turn".

The judge was also critical of the role played by Haringey Council in the question of contact between A and B and their elder siblings.

The judge said the High Court had ruled two years ago that they should all stay in contact.

But the council had ended contact between A and B and the other five in December 2013, despite the court order.

Mr Justice Newton said the council's director of children's services had gone to apologise to the children in the wake of a critical High Court judgment handed down in April.

In that judgment, Mr Justice Holman condemned Haringey for the contact being broken by council failures that "almost beggared belief".

Mr Justice Newton said the important thing now was to give to A and B "a secure, loving, permanent and stable home far away from the glare of publicity".

He said the children's mother pointed out from prison that it would be "inhumane" to consider changing their forenames.

Rejecting her objection, the judge said: "The court has to balance the irreconcilable.

"These children are at risk. This court has to contemplate what is effectively a radical change.

"Harm there will be if the change is approved, but harm is likely to occur if I don't."

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