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18 June 2014

Family court case spanning 13 years is 'longest case' in history, judge says

A family court case which has taken almost 13 years is believed by a judge to be the longest running in history, reports The Telegraph.

The longest case in the history of the family division of the High Court has concluded in a teenager refusing to see her father after 13 years of court hearings, costing taxpayers £1 million.

The 14-year-old girl at the centre of the case, who cannot be named, has refused direct contact with her father and has been exposed to a discord between her parents likened to “toxic radiation" during the duration of the hearings, according to judges.

Eight judges, numerous social workers and psychiatrists have been involved in more than 80 court appearances that have “irredeemably marred” the teenager’s childhood, judges have said.

Last September appeal judges ordered another hearing into the protracted case and said the teenager had been “failed” by the family justice system.

In the latest hearing Mr Justice Moylan, a senior Family Division judge, refused to order the girl to have direct contact with her father after she said she did not want it. The case started when she was 18 months old, and she is now 14-and-a-half.

He had been asked to re-examine the case by the Court of Appeal.

He said it was the "longest dispute of its kind" he had encountered during his years as a judge and barrister.

However he added that in spite of all the bitterness between her parents she had developed into a "very bright girl.”

He said the girl lived with her legally aided 50-year-old mother who had mental health problems and a paranoid personality disorder.

The mother and 63-year-old father, who represented himself, never married but began a relationship in 1991. They separated when the mother had a breakdown in 1996 , but resumed their relationship in 1997 and their only daughter was born in 1999.

They separated again in 2001 when their daughter was just 18 months old, and the "long standing and deep seated problems and conflict began," said the judge.

Read more on this story here.