UK psychiatrist Anthony Baker's sordid past spurs call for overhaul of child protection system

April 3, 2012

A TOP psychiatrist hired to assess teenagers was once suspended for forcibly kissing a vulnerable young patient.

The man is still practising but this revelation by the Sunday Express has led to calls for an overhaul of the child protection system.

MP John Hemming said councils and courts were “playing fast and loose with the lives of vulnerable young children” and demanded more rigorous checks on the background of the experts they commissioned.

Dr Anthony Baker, 64, is currently used by several large local authorities, including Kent County Council, to assess children in their care. He also assesses the mental condition of their parents as part of care proceedings. He was visiting professor at Kingston University in Surrey between February 2010 and February 2011.

However, Dr Baker has appeared twice before the General Medical Council’s fitness to practise panel, accused of inappropriate behaviour towards young women patients.

He was cleared in 1998 when the burden of proof was “beyond reasonable doubt” but found guilty of an incident 10 years later after the GMC had moved to a “balance of probabilities” threshold.

There is no suggestion he has acted inappropriately since.

The 2008 hearing concerned “an extremely vulnerable and young patient” who was in his care between 2004 and 2006.

The minutes of the GMC hearing state: “You do not dispute that at the end of this consultation, shortly before Christmas 2005, you held Patient A’s head in your hands and ‘went to kiss’ Patient A. You have admitted that you ended up kissing Patient A on the face.

“You told the panel that you had intended to kiss her forehead. The panel has noted the inconsistencies in your letter of explanation to the GMC and it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that Patient A’s recollection is more likely to be credible and accurate.

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“She told the panel she had been drinking prior to the consultation and that when you went to kiss her she moved her face away from you as she did not want you to smell the alcohol on her breath.

“The panel accepts Patient A’s evidence that she did not tilt her head upwards towards you, as you have stated. For these reasons, the panel has found that you tried to kiss Patient A on the lips.

“The panel is clear that trying to kiss a young, vulnerable patient on the lips is clearly inappropriate, not in her best interests and below the standards expected of a consultant psychiatrist.”

Dr Baker now runs the Ashwood Practice in Woking, Surrey, where he assesses children in foster care and provides expert witness advice to family courts. His practice has a contract with Kent County Council and was also paid several thousands of pounds by West Sussex County Council and West Berkshire Council last year.

He has declined to comment.

Source: Ted Jeory, "Sordid past of council's child care psychiatrist," Sunday Express, March 25,2012.

Comments
Sue O'Callaghan
2013-01-16 03:50:01
I took Dr Baker to the GMc and he received a warning. In 2003 he diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was never his client and having sent it to social services. He used it to have my children removed from me. Social services had NEVER met or assessed me. The children were 1, 3 and 5 and I was pregnant with my 4th and it took a year to secure the residence order and get them home by which time they had been abused and were severely traumatised. Nine years later they have suffered from severe PTSD, nightmares, fear, anxiety, poor concentration and learning. He ruined their lives. I do not suffer from BPD, nor did I ever, I was actually being abused by my alcoholic husband who has since gone on to abuse the children. Who will wake up and see the damage this man continues to do? Below is an account of an article I wrote to the Justice Minister and NONE of the below could have happened without Dr Bakers (Dr B) report:On 1st October 2003 my husband returned from work at lunchtime, he took our 1 year old saying he was going for a walk, but collected our 3 year old from nursery, 5 year old from school and never came home.

I called the police who took full statements but they phoned once back at the police station to inform me that their system showed "child protection" and that they could do no more.  They explained that it meant social services were involved.  The next morning I walked to social services, but was turned away at every attempt to meet with anyone face to face, likewise they refused to speak with me on the phone.  My husband did not answer his phone, neither did my in-laws, I discovered my joint bank account had been emptied and I was 6 weeks pregnant carrying our 4th child.

For the previous 12 months, unknown to me, my husband had been corresponding with his private psychiatrist (Dr B) who had produced a diagnosis (of me) of Borderline personality disorder (BPD).  He had taken it to social services and convinced them I was not only unable to look after my children but also abusing them.  My mother in-law had been working in children's social services and Dr B was well known to her.  Experienced at removing children from families, she lay the foundations for my husbands well planned scheme to abduct the children, deviously involving the professional services.

On 6th October I received a court summons.  My husband had applied for the residence order for the children "due to the demise of my wife's mental health and the continued abuse of the children".   It was 8 days until I knew of their whereabouts; they were staying with my in-laws at a 'secret' address.  Social services had not only backed my husband in removing them from me, but insisted phone numbers and addresses to be changed and written on their files that 'the mother has serious mental health issues' and 'should have no contact with the children".  Social services had never met with me, nor had they carried out their statutory initial, or core assessments.  In court, Judge O referred to Dr B's report and although he said it went against the human rights act for the father to remove the children from the mother, home and security of what they knew, he said the children were now settled having been gone for 6 weeks and he did not want to change the 'status quo'.  He awarded the interim residence order to the father with a further hearing at the end of February. Dr B had stated in his report that I could be treated by Dr K at the Cassel Hospital in Ham for BPD and my husband requested in court that I be seen there.  Judge O included it in the order.

Following the hearing I managed to obtain legal aid and having called or visited 38 solicitors, finally was taken on by child abduction solicitor Anne Marie Hutchinson OBE.  She applied to the Court of Appeal and the Children were returned by Lord Thorpe on December 19th 2003, 11 weeks after they had been taken.  Judge O was highly criticised for not returning the children as was Dr B for diagnosing someone who was not his patient.  The High Court order returned the interim residence order to me pending Cassel Hospital assessments of the whole family by Dr K.  The case was written up in the Law Society journal, as to why the court had failed to return the children.

Ironically social services did not involve themselves with me or the children when they were returned by the court.  We had no visits or calls but from March to June 2004 various combinations of family members attended the Cassel Hospital for assessments.  The report was due to be sent to both legal teams but it was sent only to my husband who took it directly to the High Court on June 6th 2004, my due date for my 4th child.  It stated I did indeed suffer from BPD and 'recommended' the children live with their father.  In front of a new Judge and without presenting the court bundle, my husband once again presented a case for the abrupt removal of the children.  It was an ex-partie order, so I was unaware of its hearing.  At 6pm there was a knock on the door and social services appeared with 2 child protection officers in uniform and removed the children from their baths, as I was ordered to pack their belongings.  I was handed the High Court Order with a penal order attached but not informed why they were being removed.  The next day social services visited the house for the first time and informed me that they would remove my baby at birth.  I went into Kingston Hospital and delivered on 9th June under the watchful eye of social services and was kept monitored for 6 days, unable to leave my room.  Their report stated I was 'obsessed' with the baby if I was holding her and was 'not bonding' if she lay in her cot.  Eventually they requested a hospital psychiatric assessment and Dr K wrote a glowing report, which allowed me to return home with baby M if I agreed to sign a contract with social services accepting a list of conditions on which I did so (eg I was not leave the house without informing them etc).  

Social services ordered an immediate child protection conference for baby M which I attended when she was a few days old, along with my health visitor, GP, victim support, a representative midwife and the child protection officers who attended my property a few days earlier.  My husband was prevented from attending and against the wished of social services, it was a unanimous decision to not place her on the register.  
We returned to the High Court and Judge MH returned the children to my care after they had been gone for another month, criticising Judge H for their removal.  Judge H stated that she would never have preempt their removal, had she known the full facts of the case.  Judge MH impressed delight at the outcome of the child protection conference and commented herself on the bond between mother and baby in court only a couple of weeks after delivery.  She also criticised the Cassel report as Dr K had never once met any of the family members as ordered by the court and the 2 adults who had carried out the assessments had no medial qualifications, let alone a specialism to diagnose BPD.  

Judge M ordered an assessment of both parents at The Henderson Hospital in Croydon and a CAFCAS assessment of the family.  Dr S at the Henderson, qualified in BPD stated I did not suffer from BPD but was exhausted from pregnancy, young children and the effects of an alcoholic husband. He stated the father's 'sole aim was to destroy the mother and if he could do it through no normal means would use the children to do so'. The CAFCAS report highly criticised my husband, his management of the children and recommended the children reside with their mother.  Dr K was called in to a meeting of 'experts' along with CAFCAS and Dr S and admitted that not only had he put his name of the Cassel report but agreed he had never met me and further more would not have diagnosed me with BPD.  Dr K turned out to be a close colleague of Dr B.  

In October 2004 we returned to court and I was awarded the final residence order of all 4 children.
Social services at that stage assessed the family and completed 4 core assessments one for each child. They were all glowing reports.  I took them to the highest level of complaints and received an apology "in case there had been any miscommunication between social services and the mother" and was awarded £500 compensation.  I took Dr B to the GMC and he received a warning even though one could find many similar complaints of his unethical practice on the web, in cases not dissimilar to mine.

So what went wrong?  There were a catalogue of human errors in the year from October 2003 to October 2004 that should never have happened and all the professional services put into place to protect my young children failed. Once social services had involved themselves in the removal of my children their sole aim became to cover their own backs and they dug themselves deeper and deeper in resolving to find anything wrong with my parenting, but actually other than Dr B's unethical diagnosis they had absolutely nothing on their files. If social services had carried out Initial and Core assessments, they could not have removed the children.  Yet once in court the family was vulnerable to the abuse that followed.  Ironically when I should have been receiving support at home from an abusive husband, I had become sucked into a world of police, social services, courts, expert witnesses and legal teams, a frightening and oppressive world of corruption of the worst kind; victimisation and persecution of the vulnerable by those with money, power and authority.

My 'year' exposed me to the same injustices that mothers and children are exposed to when children are removed either through abductions or social service intervention (in my case both).  Expert witnesses who are paid huge sums of money are allowed to present to the court often without meeting the accused; reports are written by social services about families they know nothing about, legal teams make rash statements in court and tell cruel lies to ensure they maintain the salaries which they have become accustomed to; Judges commonly have had a history of private education and nannies for their own children and rarely know anything about the lives of the vulnerable victims who end up in their courtrooms, siding regularly with the well dressed 'city gent' who is articulate and well presented as opposed to the quivering mother who has begun to look ill due to the terror of having already lost her children. 
Commonly in child abduction cases, the earner in the family (the father in most cases involving young children) having access to the family funds can employ the top legal teams whilst the mother, often unable to access legal aid remains unrepresented sucked into a system she neither understands nor is articulate enough to self represent.  In cases where the mother is not represented, neither too are the children.  Ironically also, where in criminal law one remains innocent until proved guilty, in family law where an allegation is made against a parent of mental illness, she remains guilty until she is able to prove her own innocence.  Not only is she unable to do that without adequate funds, but in a history where she has already been subject to abuse, the case remains focussed on her guilt and an assumption of the abducting parent's innocence.  


Ironically we live in a modern progressive society where a 'porsche' can be stollen, its tracking device activated, a helicopter find it and police return it within a day and yet 3 small children aged 1, 3 and 5 who have never previously been separated from their mother are told by a Judge that the court hearing to discuss their return will be booked in 4 months.  In 4 months children can face many house and school moves and live with many different carers, away from often the only familiar face and carer they have known.  They are often removed with no explanations and no goodbyes and young children go straight into shock and grieve their mother as in a death.  My oldest child was in fact told I had died and he continued to repeat it even when he returned home. The psychological impact on the children was immense.  My 3 year old hid under a table whenever there was a knock on the door for the following 3 years, my 1 year old's speech stopped developing and he remained silent for 18 months following his final return.  All 3 started to bed wet, developed unhealthy eating habits and had recurring nightmares of being driven away by police cars and houses floating away on boats down rivers.  They became insecure and jumpy never knowing if they would be snatched again and lacking in confidence their learning was affected at school as was their ability to make friends and interact socially. When the courts returned the children I was left alone with 3 children aged 5 and under suffering from severe trauma and an additional newborn baby, no money and left exhausted from my own ordeal.  Any good family therapy or support was either too expensive to afford or was offered on a long waiting list on the NHS for 6 sessions only and each time a new explanation of the history had to be given, adding to the trauma of the memory.  Education and the support of family and friends helped in my case but in most these do not exist and added into the equation is usually substance, physical and sexual abuse, poor health, inadequate housing, unemployment and mental health issues.

So what needs to change?  

There should be an equivalent of an "A & E' in the family courts and child abduction cases should be heard as priority, I suggest the same or following day, not with months to wait.
There needs to be a recognition of the serious emotional distress and long term psychological damage inflicted on children who are delayed from returning to the left behind parent and home, due to waiting times in courts. 

Courts need to recognise that before children are abducted there were pre-stresses on the family, often domestic violence, neglect, child abuse, alcohol and drug misuse and that coupled with the trauma of abduction puts incredible stresses on the children and remaining parent.  Decisions on removing or returning children by Judges should be based on evidence from multi-disciplinary teams (children's GP, school nurse, nursery and school teachers etc) who have known the family for many years, rather than rely the voice of the most influential solicitor, or new, so called expert witnesses who are brought in to interview the family but have no pervious knowledge of the various family history, personalities, dynamics or problems. 

The courts need to recognise the typical motivation for abduction is power, control and revenge, characteristics which are also prevalent in domestic violence cases and that child abduction is an extension of abuse that has been rooted in the family over often a long period of time. By the time the abduction has taken place the mother and children have already undergone serious harm.  With no concrete evidence of mental illness or abuse of the children the courts should immediately return children to the primary carer with a protection order in place securing the children with their primary carer in their home.

Care needs to be taken as to how children are removed from mothers.  It is highly inappropriate for children to be peeled off mothers legs, or taken out of their arms whilst all parties are left screaming or distraught with no explanations given to either child or parent.

There needs to be an extensive overhaul of social services who should be highly scrutinised in their operations and open to reviews and inspections and investigations into unfair practice, similar to other professional services ie the NHS, teachers and police.  Currently the social services only police themselves. 

A 'mother and child' foster care system needs to be developed where young children are not separated from their primary carer unless at risk of serious harm. 
Child victims are mostly between two and eleven years old; about 75% are six years old or younger.  Most child development experts agree that personality is determined before the age of six.  Therefore removal from a mother at such a young age will have a significant influence on whom he or she becomes.

A plan which addresses the needs of the family when reunification occurs needs to be developed and implemented.  Ideally a community based multi-disciplinary team would exist which would include law-enforcement, mental health, medical, prosecutor, victim support and school personnel.  

A referral service needs to be set up to an immediate therapy service for children and parent following return from removal. This needs to be on going long term support with therapists qualified in abductions, removals and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and proper follow up support should be made available allowing children to reintegrate back into home, communities and schools.

The abduction of children by one of their parents is one of the few offences to combine grave consequences for victims with lenient treatment for offenders.  The lenient treatment  of parental abductors makes a mockery of judicial custody orders as well as the suffering of a parent whose child has been stolen away for months or years. Courts cannot allow a parent to abduct children with no consequence.

Finally, secrecy in the family courts does nothing other than protect those working within the courts.  Exposure would lead to accountability and statistics would reveal shocking evidence of not only numbers of abductions taking place, but numbers of children being wrongly removed from innocent parents by social services who intervene in cases where they should never become involved.  Secrecy in the family courts is only one more addition to the catalogue of injustices that sadly many parents and children have had to suffer for many years and if change is to happen, it needs to start in the hands of the very people who jobs are to actually protect the vulnerable in our society.

gemma louise halcrow
2014-07-18 14:27:02
This pig Must hate women and children he is a mentaly Ill man he ruined my life And my children's. And this story's just one there is lots more this should not be working

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