A FOUR year old girl has been removed from her family for the rest of her life after “unprofessional” social workers used “pyschobabble”to have her taken into care.

Brighton and Hove City Council social workers were criticised for the actions that led to the girl and her three siblings being taken away from their father.

But because of the amount of time it has taken to bring the case through the courts the most senior family court judge in the country said he had no choice but ruled she should stay with her adoptive family because she now sees them as mummy and daddy.

The city’s head of social services yesterday apologised for the mistakes made in the case.

Judges were told that the children’s mother had mental health problems and was unable to safely care for them. A local family court judge then decided in the autumn of 2013 that the three eldest children - now aged 13, 10 and eight - should live with their father.

But that judge said the little girl should be adopted - and social services staff had placed her with a couple who wanted to adopt.

High Court judge Ms Justice Russell then ruled that the little girl should return home, noting that social workers had been ‘’unprofessional’’ and had talked ‘’psycho-babble’’.

The couple who wanted to adopt then challenged the decision - and the little girl stayed with them pending the outcome of their challenge.

Now the most senior family court judge in England and Wales has ruled that the little girl should stay at her adoptive home.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, said the “sad reality” was that the little girl had no “meaningful relationship” with her birth family and saw the couple she lived with as “daddy and mummy”.

He said the case was “worrying” but concluded that moving the little girl back to her father now would probably cause her distress and trauma and ruled the couple could formally adopt.

“This is a very complex and worrying case,” he said in a ruling published on yesterday.

“It is, I think, by some margin the most difficult and concerning case of its type I have ever been involved in.”

He added: “I am, at the end of the day, driven to the conclusion, which in the event I arrive at unhesitatingly, that (she) must for her own good and her own happiness... remain with what for her is her family.”

Brighton Hove City Council’s executive director of families, children and learning, Pinaki Ghoshal, said:

"We accept the findings of this judgment. Most importantly, we agree with its conclusion that it would be in the best interests of the child in question for the adoption to proceed.

"We agree with the judgment regarding the unusually long time this litigation has taken, and that this has been deplorable for the child and families concerned.

"However, the timescales of the legal process are not something over which we have had control.

"Throughout this very complex case we have always tried to work in the best interests of the child.

"The actions by our children’s services team that led to the original court order were taken in late 2012. Over the last five years there have been significant developments in our practice, in part informed by this case.

"As recorded in the judgment, we have recognised that there were mistakes with some of our practice in the past and we have apologised for these mistakes.

"With further legal action pending it would not be appropriate for us to comment further on this case."