Neither parent could get legal representation although the mother had borderline learning difficulties and the father had an IQ of 50 and would apparently need an intermediary even to give instructions.

The matter has come back as In re D (a Child) 2 [2015] EWFC 2. Both parents have now secured legal aid funding up to the final hearing, subject to monthly contributions, but the case underlines the difficulties in securing public funding for legal representation.

Sir James Munby said it was “no thanks to the system” that the parents were able to avail themselves of that assistance, but due to the “goodwill... of the legal profession... far above and far beyond the call of duty”.

“For any parent who lacks capacity the application process itself functions as a barrier to access to public funding which, in the context of a placement application, involves a potential breach of Art 6,” he said.

The parents could be “forgiven for thinking that they are trapped in a system which is neither compassionate nor even humane”. Noting that the primary focus of the hearings to date had been legal aid rather than the welfare of D, Sir James added: “Is this really the best we can do?”