Bridget Lindley OBE
4 minute read
Bridget Lindley was one of the leading family rights lawyers in the UK and joined Family Rights Group in 1988, where she worked for 27 years. Bridget had a steely determination to improve the family justice system, which she combined with a photographic memory of child welfare law and guidance. She combined critique with determination to find solutions, to problems even those others regarded as intractable.
Bridget advised thousands of parents whose children were at risk or had been taken into care, giving free legal advice. She influenced policy, legislation and practice to enable more vulnerable children to live safely within their family. She was co-convener of the Adoption Law Reform Group that influenced the Adoption and Law Reform Act 2002 and as mentioned was instrumental in the Act’s introduction of Special Guardianships Orders, which provide children being raised safely by wider relatives with permanently legal security until adulthood.
One Department of Education official described Bridget as having “the power to take everyone with her, through persuasive argument, charm and commitment to a cause in which she passionately believed. She was brilliant and lovely – and more than a match for anyone in a government department! I was so impressed with how she was able to convince most people around a table to agree to practically everything she suggested!”.
Alongside her work for Family Rights Group, she undertook research at the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University that resulted in the Protocol on Advice and Advocacy for Parents in Child Protection Cases (2002). This led Family Rights Group to produce national protocol and standards for parental advocacy.
For her work as a Family Rights lawyer, she received the OBE in 2014.
She was a member of the Government Review of Child Care Proceedings, led the legal work of the Kinship Care Alliance, and sat on the Family Justice Council as the Parents and Relatives Representative, UK.
Bridget’s influence will live on in many ways.
Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court had previously encouraged Family Rights Group to consider intervening in the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. The role of an intervenor is to apply one’s specialist expertise to a case in which the judgment has wider ramifications for children and families than just for the individual parties concerned. So it came to pass that shortly before Bridget’s death we got a call from a solicitor asking Family Rights Group to intervene in a case, the case of Re: N. They’d work for free, as would the barristers. Bridget was going through horrific medical tests and the Charity had no money to fund its time to instruct the legal team, but Bridget was insistent we should do it. Later, she’d come straight from hospital appointments to Kings Cross to discuss the case. Since then, Family Rights Group has intervened in another case in the Supreme Court and issued a pre-action letter that resulted in the Government amending Covid regulations so that children could meet prospective kinship carers during the Pandemic.
Following Bridget’s death, Angela Frazer-Wicks said, “Bridget asked if I would be interested in getting involved in her work on the Family Justice Council when they were setting up a parent and relatives’ sub-group … by being involved in the work, I changed my life entirely … I am the person I am today because I met Bridget.”
Now Angela is chair of Trustees at Family Rights Group and has just been appointed herself onto the Family Justice Council as the Parent & Families’ Representative, the role that Bridget held when Angela met her.
Bridget was also a wife, a mother to three children, a family mediator, a Trustee of Amnesty International UK, an amazing dancer, and she even starting DJing at an African music night in Cambridge.
Bridget died in 2016, aged 56 years old.