In a stern warning shot across the bows of parents tempted to use high tech listening devices to spy on their children, a father who placed ‘bugs’ in his daughter’s school uniform in the midst of a bitter residency dispute paid the price when a judge ruled that the little girl should live with her mother.

Tiny recording devices – which could be bought for a few pounds on the Internet – were sewn into the pockets of the girl's blazer and raincoat by the man's partner. For nearly two years, much of what she said to her social worker, as well as her school friends and teachers, was recorded without her knowledge and typed up into a transcript which ran to more than 100 pages.

The judge observed that it hardly needed saying that covertly recording children’s conversation could almost never be justified. Whilst stopping short of ruling that what the couple did was illegal, he said that the bugging operation had further damaged relations between the adults in the girl’s life and underlined the father's inability to trust social workers.

It was extremely damaging to the girl and it was not hard to imagine the reaction of other parents at the girl’s school if they were to learn that their children had been recorded as a result of talking to her, or even being near her. The discovery of the secret surveillance was a prominent factor in the judge’s ruling that the father and his partner could not meet the girl's emotional needs.

For further information on this article or related family issues, please contact Amanda Holland on 0121 698 2200, email a.holland@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

Lexcel Practice Management Standard Birmingham Law Firm of the Year for 2011 Resolution Collaborative Family Lawyer The Law Society Accredited in Family Law UK Legal 500 2016 Conveyancing Quality Scheme