Council bosses were wrong to offer a disabled Orthodox Jewish teenager 12 weeks of respite care at a residential home which was not “exclusively Orthodox Jewish”, a judge has concluded.
A relative took legal action on the 15-year-old boy’s behalf and argued he would not be able to comply with kosher dietary laws or fully observe Shabbat, and other holy days, if he was not in an Orthodox Jewish home.
Judge Stephen Davies ruled in favour of the boy, who lives with his parents and five siblings in a strict Charedi community in north Manchester, and concluded that Manchester City Council acted unlawfully and breached his human rights.
The judge considered the case at a recent High Court hearing and has outlined his decision in a ruling published online.
He heard that the options were a non-Jewish residential home in the Greater Manchester area or an orthodox Jewish residential home in the London area.
The teenager was offered a 12-week placement at the non-Jewish home in Greater Manchester.
Judge Davies said a care plan envisaged that he would spend all 12 weeks at the non-Jewish home, including Shabbat and any other religious festival within that period, apart from visits on Sundays.
He said that proposal would not allow the teenager to “manifest his religion in worship, practice or observance” and would breach his human rights to respect for family life and religious freedom.
Council bosses, who had plans to allow the boy to manifest his faith at the non-Jewish home – as far as “practicable” – had disputed the claim.
Judge Davies said the council did not object to the London home on cost grounds.
The relative also took legal action on behalf of the teenager’s 11-year-old brother, who is also disabled and had also been offered respite care at the non-Jewish home.
But the judge dismissed the younger boy’s claim, saying the respite plan was different.
Council bosses proposed one overnight stay every other Sunday for the younger boy.
Judge Davies concluded those arrangements would not “have the same adverse impact” on the younger boy’s “freedom to manifest his religion”.
The judge has not identified the family involved in his ruling.
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