Sex video blamed for council decision

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The Independent Online
ONE OF Britain's few single male foster parents yesterday lost a High Court challenge against a decision to de-register him.

Robert Crabtree, 37, who specialised in looking after delinquent teenagers, believes he was banned from fostering because he used a sexually explicit video as a 'shock tactic' to deter a youth in his care from an 'unworthy' interest in pornographic material.

Mr Justice Thorpe said Mr Crabtree's unorthodox methods were said to have achieved remarkable results with 'impossible' teenagers. However, Avon County Council social workers were split between those who admired Mr Crabtree and those who believed he was undermining their department.

Mr Crabtree, of Patchway, Bristol, asked the judge to overturn the decision of the 'biased' fostering panel for the Kingswood-Northavon area to cancel his registration in October 1992.

Refusing the application, the judge said: 'It may be the decision taken by the panel was not a wise decision.' But he was not persuaded that in reaching their decision the panel members 'breached the rules of natural justice'.

Later Mr Crabtree said he was considering an appeal. 'They keep harping back to this video thing. I am not going to hide anything. I have done nothing wrong,' he said.

Ian Glen, for Mr Crabtree, said the local authority's concern over whether the foster father was 'suitable' dated from November 1991 when a youth in his care complained about seeing a sex video.

The judge described how Mr Crabtree, a devout Christian, had been working as a foster father since 1988, looking after two youths at a time. While he had antagonised some professionals in Avon social services, he had gained the respect and admiration of others.

One professional within the department wrote: 'I find Robert Crabtree's patience, care and concern virtually unique in my experience of trying to accommodate impossible young people.'

Mr Crabtree still looks after two youths but is barred from fostering any more children.