Robert Fordham is a young and newly qualified solicitor who, in the autumn of 1979, joins the staff of the Borough Solicitor for the London Borough of Haringey.
Anxiously, but enthusiastically, he takes on child removal cases one after another, taking orders from the borough’s social workers. Robert’s adventures as a lawyer (and his quest for a girlfriend and a social life) are woven into a light touch narrative with a serious underlay which discloses the dilemmas and difficulties arising in those times in court processes, not excluding bruising encounters with other lawyers – and with presiding magistrates. Change is in the air in 1979. A keener sense of the importance of human rights is emerging, and the disciplinary cane is being banned in schools. Meanwhile, Haringey’s controlling Labour Party councillors (who include a youthful Jeremy Corbyn) are unhappily adjusting to the budget-cutting policies of Margaret Thatcher’s new government. And if one Iron Lady is in Downing Street, another is leading the magistracy in Tottenham’s juvenile court.
The era of major public inquiries into the tragic failures of Haringey Social Services and other agencies to protect Victoria Climbié and Baby Peter from dangerous adults are decades away and beyond imagination. Yet the legal framework of the seventies and eighties was strangely ill-equipped to protect children in extremis, and the outcome of child protection cases was often unpredictable. However ‘real the feel’, this book is fiction and much more about what could happen than what did happen.
Times Change will appeal to readers interested in a real world now past, in child protection and the law, and even those beguiled by a strong narrative and the pleasures and pitfalls of romance.