The Family Court has allowed a local council to submit evidence on a family gained from a private investigator, it has emerged.
Judge Moradifar said allegations that the evidence breaches the parents’ human rights should be dealt with separately.
However, he said the information gained from covert surveillance of the family was relevant in care proceedings relating to the relationship of the parents.
The parents claim that they are no longer in a relationship, while the council – which has not been named – argues that they are.
Surveillance of the family shows that the father stayed for a short period of time in the mother’s house, but the council conceded that there was no way to tell that the mother was in at the time.
The parents said the council’s use of surveillance was “misjudged and deeply unfortunate”, and that it was not fair, reasonable, or proportionate.
They said the council had failed to comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and had breached their rights to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Judge Moradifar ruled that the evidence was admissible in the care proceedings, but the family have a right to bring a separate human rights claim against the council.
Judge Moradifar said: “The factual matters that the local authority sought to prove included an allegation that the parents remain in a relationship.
“Therefore on a cursory analysis of the facts that remained in issue and required the court’s determination, it is clear that the surveillance evidence was relevant to this allegation. Indeed no party has sought to submit that it was not.”