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Govt as ‘Institutional Parent’ – Judge Says Father Cannot Refuse to Register Son to Stop Him Becoming State ‘Asset’

Victoria Friedmanby Victoria Friedman

A London father who did not want to register the birth of his son to stop him becoming an “asset” of a State he perceived to be “authoritarian and capricious” has lost his High Court battle, with a judge ruling the council is entitled to register him without the consent of his parents.

Mr Justice Hayden determined that Tower Hamlets council can step in as an “institutional parent” and register the birth. The boy, identified only as T., is also subject to a care order while his parents are undergoing a “residential assessment” to determine the long-term placement of the child, according to The Guardian.

The case began when Tower Hamlets asked the court to step in after the parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had refused to register their son earlier in the year within the required 42 days after birth, in accordance with the 1953 Birth and Deaths Registration Act. The parents have given the baby a Christian name and a surname.

The case was heard earlier this month at the High Court of Justice, Family Division, with the ruling published Sunday. During the private hearing, the judge remarked on the father’s “unusual and somewhat eccentric” beliefs and his concept of personal “sovereignty”, which resulted in the father refusing to register his son.

“We are each our own sovereign. We are governed by a common law but only to the extent that we depart from three principles. These three imperatives are: to do no harm; to cause no loss; to inflict no injury,” the father — identified as ‘F’ in court documents — had said.

Mr Justice Hayden said of the father’s beliefs, on which F based his legal framework:

It is in this context that when a birth is registered, F considers this to be the equivalent of an “entry into a ship’s manifest”, in which the child becomes “an asset to the country which has boarded a vessel to sail on the high seas.” This facet of admiralty and maritime law is pervasive in F’s thinking. The essence of F’s objection is his belief that registration will cause his son to become controlled by a State which he perceives to be authoritarian and capricious.

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