Sun Herald: Sect Raids Were Illegal

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Sect Raids Were Illegal

The Sun Herald/1999-04-01

Police and welfare officers acted illegally when they removed 72 children from their families in a dawn raid on Sydney homes belonging to a religious sect, a judge found yesterday.

Justice John Dunford found that the search warrants were invalidly executed because the police officer named on them was not present at the raids, but was with others at a command post.

"Being in a radio control room in touch with the people who were at the premises is not in my view taking part in the execution," he said in the NSW Supreme Court.

He found that in entering the homes, searching for and removing the children, the officers were not acting under any authority conferred by the warrants, but wrongfully and contrary to law.

Fifty-seven children are suing the State of NSW claiming they suffered psychological damage after raids on the homes belonging to the Christian fundamentalist sect The Family, formerly known as Children of God.

The raids took place on May 15, 1992. It was alleged the children had been, or were in danger of being, sexually and physically abused - claims The Family said were unsubstantiated. The judge will deal with damages on a later date.