The surname change was unlawful, a judge has ruled

Alex Winter

The surname change was unlawful, a judge has ruled

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COUNCIL social services bosses unlawfully allowed the surname of two sisters to be changed before they were adopted, a family court judge has concluded.

Judge James Meston said the girls' surnames were changed to the names of a couple aiming to adopt before an adoption process was complete.

Social services should have prevented the change of name or sought the permission of the children's parents, the judge concluded.

He had analysed the issue at a family court hearing in Bournemouth after the children's father complained, and has announced his decision in a written ruling.

He said the children involved could not be identified and he has also decided not to name the council involved.

Judge Meston said the children's father wanted the council named.

But he concluded that naming the council would increase the risk of the children being identified and might jeopardise their privacy.

The children's father had wanted damages.

He had claimed that his human rights and the girls' human rights had been breached.

Judge Meston dismissed the man's claim for damages.

He said there was no evidence to suggest that the name change had any adverse impact on the children.

The judge said a "declaration" that the council had acted unlawfully was a "sufficient remedy".