Poppi Worthington comment
Date posted: 26 January 2016
Following the death of Poppi Worthington and the investigation that followed, Cumbria County Council issued care proceedings, asking the Court to remove Poppi’s siblings from the care of their parents. They relied on an allegation of non-accidental injury to Poppi and a sexual assault on her by her father. The Family Court had to decide whether or not the Council had proved that it was more likely than not that these allegations were true. It does not matter to the Family Court that a person has not been charged or convicted in the criminal arena.
In 2014 the Family Court had found that it was more likely than not that Poppi’s father had sexually assaulted her at the time of her death and that as a result, Poppi had died. This Judgment was not made public at the time, so as to avoid prejudicing the criminal investigation which was ongoing.
The first Judgment criticised a number of authorities for the part that they played following Poppi’s death. The expert reports were very delayed and the police investigation appears to have been flawed. Not all of what appears in retrospect to have been very important evidence was collected or tested.
It is now 3 years since Poppi died, and on the information and evidence that the CPS has, they were unable to charge Poppi’s father in relation to her death. In the Family Court, despite new evidence and an application on behalf of the father to reopen the matter, the Court has stood by its decision in 2014. Now that the criminal investigation has concluded, the Family Court’s decision has been made public, anonymised to protect Poppi’s siblings, to expose the errors made by various professionals , to ensure that the real reasons for the decision are known, and to finalise the matter from the Family Court’s perspective for Poppi’s siblings. You can read the full Judgment here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2016/14.html .