Submissions, evaluations, cross-examination and ‘expand and explain’
Mrs Justice Parker indicated that she was entitled to evaluate the wishes and feelings of the child. Here, those ‘wishes and feelings’ amount to the child making ‘submissions’, not adducing evidence, and so questions about these submissions were not ‘cross-examination’, but just an attempt to get the child to ‘expand and explain’.
Now, on the face of it, that seems ok, because the Guidance makes clear that it is not the purpose of the meeting to glean evidence. As counsel for the mother argued though, whatever the purpose of the meeting, evidence was going to come out. Indeed, it is hard to see how that could be avoided. So Mrs Justice Parker did procure evidence and did then rely on that evidence in coming to her decision.