Victoria Haigh: When Child Abusers are given moral authority

I first became aware of the case of Victoria Haigh in about 2013, when my concern about the activities of the then MP John Hemming began to mount up.

In 2018 I noticed Victoria Haigh on Twitter. She was supported by a number of self styled campaigners who were linked by their shared belief that the family justice system was fundamentally a tool of misogynistic oppression against women, favouring the rights of violent men over the women they abused.

I have written about this before. I don’t think its true. My position simply is this: the Children Act is the statutory expression of the need to put the welfare of the child first and foremost in any decision making process. Neither sex has the monopoly on bad behaviour and my experience in practice shows a pretty equal split between emotionally abusive behaviour by both mothers and fathers. However, as is unsurprising given mens greater physical strength, they are more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners than women.

The fact that I am insulted, threatened and blocked online pretty equally by Mens Rights Activitists and Female DV campaigners suggests to me that I must be doing something right.

When I questioned the validity of Victoria Haigh as any kind of campaigner against the family courts, given the very clear findings made against her that she had subjected her own child to serious emotional harm, I was met with instant vilification and told to ‘fuck off’ as I was a ‘narc’.

So far, so internet.

I was however extremely alarmed to see this a few weeks later.

 

A lot of people saw this tweet – at least by my standards. My tweets usually get about 300 ‘impressions’ with an ‘engagement rate’ of about 2%. This one (at time of writing February 4th 2019) 2,449 people have seen it and 279 engaged. A rate of 11.3 %. So clearly a topic that attracted more attention than I usually get on line. But no comments. No one replied to say ‘well, that looks a bit worrying.’ Silence.

So I asked again. Why the silence? did no one in the DV sector see the obvious problems with affording moral authority to a woman found to be a child abuser? Who had been fairly tried and rightly punished by the legal system? Did anyone think that this was the way to work to achieve necessary change in this area?

Zoe Dronfield replied by simply posting a link to something called The Red Mother: An interview with Victoria Haigh. 

The thrust of this article is immediately apparent from the first paragraph

During the proceedings Victoria reported that her daughter had told her that her father is sexually abusing her. The response of the system was swift and cruel – the girl was taken away from Victoria and her father got sole custody of her. Victoria was accused of coaching the girl and being an emotionally abusive mother (see also this article in the UK Telegraph). Never one to buckle under, she then went public with her case and stressed further investigations. For an alledged breach of a no-contact order (no contact with her daughter that is) Victoria was eventually put on trial and sentenced to 3 years in prison. After her release she moved to France with her youngest daughter (not related to the alledged molester of her older daughter) to re-start her career as horse-trainer.

This sounds shocking. But it is not true. The truth is this. Victoria Haigh was found to have told lies about her ex sexually abusing their daughter. She was found to have tried to make contact with her on a garage forecourt and she was sent to prison for breach of a non-molestation order. She was found, on evidence, to be a child abuser.

See for example:

Doncaster MBC v Haigh, Tune and X [2011] EWHC B16 (Fam) where – very unusually – the LA asked the court to make its judgment public and to name Ms Haigh because of the amount of misleading information that she was putting out into the public domain

Family Law week summarised these proceedings in this way

This case had begun as a private law contact dispute between Victoria Haigh, who was the mother of X and the child’s father, David Tune.  Following a court hearing of this dispute in respect of which Ms Haigh was clearly unhappy, she made allegations that David Tune had sexually assaulted X.  These allegations were duly investigated and at a fact-finding hearing, HHJ Robertshaw had concluded that X had not been abused and that she had been coached by Ms Haigh.  At that hearing, the mother’s stance was not that X had been sexually abused, but rather that X had made these allegations as a reaction to the stressful relationships around her.  The judge disagreed, however, and found that the allegations were false and had originated in the mind of the mother.

The mother refused to accept the findings, despite her stance at the fact-finding hearing.  Her views about the alleged abuse hardened to become a certainty which she expressed dogmatically.  At a subsequent hearing, HHJ Jones concluded that the mother had continued to influence X and to manipulate her feelings whilst in fact ‘placing her own as the priority’.  HHJ Jones concluded that it would be contrary to X’s best interest to live with her mother.  A decision was made that X should reside with her father.  The local authority offered supervised contact between the mother and X but Ms Haigh felt unable to attend and decided she would not see X at all.

The mother’s attention then turned towards a media and internet-based campaign designed to remedy what she claimed was a miscarriage of justice.  Assisted by an Elizabeth Watson, who described herself as a private case investigator, she put a large number of highly critical comments and information about the case and all of the professionals involved into the public domain.  She also contacted the father’s employers and colleagues and parents of children who attended X’s school and falsely alleged to them that Mr Tune was a paedophile.  This was in breach of orders made by the High Court prohibiting the publication of any information that would lead to the identity of the child or any other family members.  On 25 February 2011 Baker J made an order prohibiting the mother and Ms Watson from communicating via the internet, media or otherwise “any information relating to the proceedings under the Children Act concerning X”.

The author of the interview asks

Why are a mother and child punished so severly for simply talking about sexual abuse and saying that it has occured? Why is a woman sentenced to 3 years in prison for saying hello to her own child? And to what extent was this mother surveillanced, by whom and why?

The answers to these questions would have been found easily in the judgment cited above. But she clearly doesn’t think it worth checking any other source than the narrative offered to her by Victoria Haigh.

Victoria Haigh goes on to expressly assert that the findings against her were the result of deliberate corruption, a campaign ‘to cover up the truth’.

They do what they do. The police do not investigate the crimes. If one complains, the complaints are investigated by those one lays the complaint against and one is sent in a spin cycle of chaos. Then it is the complainant or victim or associate of the victim who begins to have court orders put on them! An innocent person can soon become a criminal, just like me! It was all a complete smoke screen to avoid achieving any kind of justice…

My retrial was an overall tactic by the judiciary, police, ministry of justice at the highest level, to shut me down once and for all with their utmost effort of propaganda, blackmail and whatever else they threw at me. I was not going to stay silent therefore they used their well trodden tactic of pulling my reputation to pieces. To discredit a witness is how the criminals defendthemselves. I was the mouthpiece for my child so by shutting me down, my child was shut down too.

I am quite prepared to accept that miscarriages of justice occur. That wrong decisions are made. It is certainly not impossible that Victoria Haigh has been a victim of such a miscarriage of justice, although I note she has not chose to appeal against any of the court judgments made against her. However, when asked WHY she thinks the family court system acted against her in the way it did, she gives this answer. I find this shocking. There is absolutely no evidence from any credible source that this is happening. This is delusional conspiracy theorising of the worst kind.

There is evidence through MOSAC (Mothers of Sexually Abused Children, a Charity) that women are being groomed to have babies and the babies are being ‘won’ in a ‘custody battle’ by the peodophile father. If a paodophile father uses this as a template which according to the patterns we have seen, these men are using, very successfully, the length and breadth of the UK the same tactic applying for contact through these secret courts accusing the mother of alienating them from their child, in most cases they win custody, never get prosecuted and have freedom and the law on their side to rape their own children under complete protection of the State through the court orders they achieve. The mothers in all of these cases are gagged and prevented from having any contact with their children, knowing at the same time their children are not safe from child sexual abuse. It is torture for the child and the mother.

She goes on to describe family lawyers as ‘cowards or paedophiles’.

This is deeply worrying and depressing. I do not doubt that some men sexually abuse children and women. I do not doubt some men are violent. I do not doubt the family court system could do a better job of dealing with such cases quickly and fairly. I do not doubt that many women find it hard to provide the evidence a court will insist on to prove that they are the victims of coercive or controlling behaviour. I do not doubt that many women fear the family court system I do not doubt that many do not understand what is going on. I do not doubt that many criticisms are well made, and I have made many myself.

Not everything Haigh says in this interview sounds insane. What she says, for example about the women she met in prison strikes a chord. 

The women in prison ALL had crimes committed against them that were much worse than the crimes they had committed to be imprisoned including myself. This again sums up the terrible treatment of women in the UK. “It truly is a terrible country to live in. I looked around at these women and realised instantly that these women needed help and certainly not locking up. Many were products of the UK care system and it goes without saying were sexually abused in care. I was very saddened by what I saw in that place.

But I reject any allegation that the family court system is deliberately set up to oppress women or is part of some ‘baby farm’ for paedophile fathers.

Either lawyers don’t do a good enough job of explaining or the removal  of legal aid has left more and more floundering as litigants in person. When I engage with those who criticise the family justice system and ask them what processes they would have in place other than the testing of allegations by a Judge, I get no answer.

Victoria Haigh is a mother who was found by a variety of judges over the years to have lied and manipulated her daughter into reporting abuse about her father that never happened. She did not appeal against those judgments. They stand as the truth. This is the operation of the rule of law.

So I put the question again to those in the ‘DV Sector’ who stand behind those such as Haigh and promote such narratives that women are being groomed to have babies who will be ‘won’ by a paedophile, that family lawyers are ‘cowards or paedophiles’

  • do you think this is true?
  • If so, where is your evidence that this is true?
  • If you accept you have no evidence, what real or lasting change do you think you will secure by campaigning in this way?
  • To what degree does financial self interest motivate your promotion of such lurid fantasies about the family justice system?

I am sorry to be so cynical as I offer the last question. But when I dare to raise polite inquiry a to the wisdom of promoting Victoria Haigh as a campaigner against the family justice system and I am told to ‘fuck off narc’ by prominent campaigners who have a link to their book or their agent in their Twitter bio, I do wonder. I wonder quite a lot.

 

EDIT February 5th 2019

I had a conversation with Zoe Dronfield on Twitter. I asked her a number of times if she agreed with Haigh’s narrative that the family courts facilitate the rape of children by handing them over to obvious abusers. She wouldn’t answer. This is a great shame. There is clearly something worthy of discussion here. What has gone so wrong with the system that such delusional beliefs can take such deep roots? Haigh isn’t the only person who thinks and says this, not by a long shot. I have to accept that something ‘feels right’ about this narrative to a significant minority of people and that is very troubling. What can we do about this – if anything?

Maybe nothing. But the answer cannot be to ignore it. Its an inexorable rule of of life that ignoring a problem very rarely makes it go away but it will make others seriously question your motives and your good faith.

EDIT March 9th 2019

This article originally referred to Ms Haigh being found guilty of attempting to abduct her child from the garage forecourt. On Friday 6th March I received an email from Ms Haigh’s lawyers at 10.24am accusing me of making ‘false’ allegations about Ms Haigh and threatening action in defamation. I have agreed to amend ‘attempt to abduct’ for ‘breach of a non molestation order’ as I agree it is important to be accurate about such serious and important matters. However, I assert that to call Ms Haigh a ‘child abuser’ is true and accurate and I do not resile from that description.  I will await with interest any summons to the High Court to defend my position which I shall very happily do.

 

Further reading

Judgment of Sir Nicholas Wall August 2011

A note on the Vicky Haigh Case Stowe Family Law August 2011

A cautionary lesson: The Vicky Haigh and Liz Watson judgments Carl Gardener Head of Legal September 2011

When children are pawns: Vicky Haigh and Hampstead 2015 Hoaxstead Research

Links between Victoria Haigh and Sabine McNeill Hoaxstead Research video May 2019

 

 

37 thoughts on “Victoria Haigh: When Child Abusers are given moral authority

  1. Pingback: Why does everyone hate the Family Court ? Part Two | Child Protection Resource

  2. Angelo Granda

    Thank you to the writer of the post. Child abusers should not be granted moral authority and we should be wary about anything they say or write ; it may well be suspect.
    I absolutely agree with Sarah that if it has been found in a Court of Law on the balance of probabilities that it is a fact this person, Victoria Haigh is likely to be a child-abuser then we should treat her utterances with care; the search for truth demands ‘real’ evidence . No matter how credible or how much what she says ‘feels right’ to us we should be guarded.

    Can i also give some other advice. Readers should never, ever suppose or grant the public utterances of child-protection professionals any moral authority without being equally wary. It has been found that they fairly regularly act unlawfully , that children are abused in the care system and that their fellow professionals , SW’s,Guardians, LA management, Police, legals and even the senior clergy cover the abuse up. The only difference between these types of professional is that they haven’t been held accountable. However it is a FACT that the abuse occurs and , the ripple effect means we must question very fully the opinions of ALL professionals be they spread about on the radio, t.v., press or on the internet. We must double our guard when considering official information and data.In fact those child-abusers in positions of trust and those who cover-up for the crimes are twice as bad as genuinely miscreant Mums.
    Sarah, perhaps you will remember this little piece of advice in Court and encourage the Judges to apply their discretion with this in mind when considering professional evidence.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I can’t possibly allege misconduct against anyone without some evidence. The evidence of professionals is tested as is the evidence of everyone.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        No-one should ever allege misconduct without evidence! That is unfair but when considering the utterances of cp professionals in the media or in court, just as with abusers like Victoria Haigh, take their previous bad reputation into account and treat them with suspicion.Their past record travels with them.
        If you have clear evidence of professional dishonesty and malpractice in a particular case, for example if S20s are misused and children removed unlawfully and/or legal guidelines and procedures have been trodden underfoot , or if there is evidence a child has been abused in care,then I would advise you be more than wary. I suggest your duty would be to protest strongly and urge the Judge to disregard the LA case completely , to send the children home and report matters to the Police for a full criminal investigation. Professional malpractice should not be swept under the carpet.

        Reply
        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          So. Because SOME parents have been found to murder their children I should approach ALL parents on the basis that ‘the bad reputation of parents’ follows them?

          your points I am afraid make little sense to me. No judge will be impressed by vague generalisations that so and so is more likely to be dishonest because someone in a similar position in another case was found to be dishonest.

          Reply
          1. Angelo Granda

            I believe readers will find it fairly clear in my comments that i refer to utterances in the MEDIA and on the INTERNET from Victoria Haigh should be treated with caution ; child abusers should not be granted any moral authority even if their stories ‘sound right ‘ to us. I was actually agreeing with the point in your post. I made the point that child-protection professionals also have a past record of child-abuse and a cover-up culture the only difference being that ,unlike Victoria Haigh, they had not been called to account for their abuses. I advised readers to treat the utterances of the child-protection professionals in the MEDIA and on the INTERNET with twice as much caution and never to suppose they have any moral authority.
            Then quite distinctly ,i suggested to you that in a Court setting, you should remind and encourage the Judge to consider the general past record and antecedents of the Authorities ( their dysfunction etc.) when exercising his or her ‘discretion’ ; they should never be granted moral authority just because their stories ‘sound right’.
            Because lots of professionals have been found dishonest in the past but not been made accountable because of systemic failures , it tars all the others with the same brush, so great caution should be taken with all of them.
            I hope that makes a little more sense to you,Sarah, thanks for your replies and for your words of advice in the post.

      2. Kate

        Sarah Phillimore, you are incredibly naïve. We urge you to do your research surrounding case studies ( of those that have not been gagged) and statistics surrounding the secret family courts. Evidence of experts is never tested and all too frequently Cafcass, Social workers and children’s Guardians lie in reports, commit perjury and mislead judges. They are rarely held accountable. You would think that a Judge would fulfil their statutory duty to not allow these so called professionals to behave unlawfully in court, but sadly they get away with it, which allows these underhand practices continue. We do not hear about it frequently enough because so many parents are gagged.

        According to the statistics study as claimed by Ian Joseph’s 98 per cent of women who report the father of their child for sexual abuse against their child will lose custody of their child as a change of residence is granted to the father. I do not claim to know what is behind this. I do not believe that there are many women who will report such a wicked thing if it were not true.

        Why do you assume that Vicky is not telling the truth? Very hard to pass judgment if you have not been through the family court process yourself. Are you even aware of what a ‘fair hearing’ looks like in a family court? The SS and Cafcass and Guardians word is almost always taken as fact. There are some reasonable Judges I am sure, but sadly from what I have seen the former situation happens all too frequently. There are other situations, although less dark where Cafcass and Guardians will nearly always side with the perpetrator and that is in cases of domestic violence. Please research.

        Why such a vindictive article about someone you do not know personally?

        Kate

        Reply
        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          Nope. I am not. After criticising Ms Haigh I found that she
          a) joined forces with a group who are harassing and abusing me on the internet, including posting details about my daughter. One of that group has already pleaded guilty to sending me a malicious communication and I am pursuing the others.
          b) sent me a fake solicitors letter to extort £300K after I ‘defamed her’ and threatened legal action. No such action has arrived. I am not surprised.
          c) posted a nine year old disciplinary ruling about me on line inviting everyone to agree how dreadful I was.

          So, when I read a number of court judgments saying that she was a manipulative liar, it rings rather true to to me.

          Reply
  3. Pingback: Voices of Moral Authority – Can Child Protectors in the UK be Manipulated? – The Red Mother

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        you may offer comments here Victoria if you can do so without abusing or defaming anyone. I am not trying to silence yours or anyone else voice. But you have to be prepared to use that voice responsibly.

        Reply
  4. Vittoria

    I Have seen first hand how a convicted sex offender and perpertrator of domestic abuse can partake quite extensively within family law proceedings and how this forum is used as a platform to the detriment of their victims . What are we hoping to achieve well changes in the law it is now not deemed correct for abuses to cross examine their victims within the courts I don’t think the dv bill went far enough , imagine a mother subjected to serious assault and abuse over a long period of time psychologically manipulated and controlled abusers create smokescreens of chaos they gaslight victims and they are thrown into family law with their abusers , obviously we’d all like to think how victims would be treated it doesn’t happen .now domestic abuse is a crime a very serious one at that . Surely victims need protecting surely victims need understanding surely the situation needs to be taken as the dynamics of abuse and understood for this rather than seen as parental conflict or some tit for tat custody battle . , or the emotional instability of a victim incapable of ever surviving and going onto achieve great things inclusive of abilities to parent affectively surely a timescale of 26 weeks to not show any form of emotional reaction to parallel criminal proceedings to family law proceedings in which you are cps witness in one trial and defending you own children’s rights to have a relationship with their grandparents cousins aunts uncles and yourself in another , at not only ridiculous costs to tax payers but costing life savings of grandparents who also are trying to salvage the situation for sheer belief the children have rights all whilst faced with the convicted abuser who is rubbing their hands at the orchestrated power situation remaining cool collective calm almost looking perfect if it wasn’t for the string of convictions or results of demanded hair stand tests . surely a victim who is no further actioned by police because they have been deemed to of been acting in self defence should not go on to be accused by those in local authorities as the abuser or perpertrator in a family court as a allegation when the parallel criminal proceedings this is prosecution evidence surely family courts should not be assuming upon evidence or fact because the criminal courts have refused the evidence to be released to them it is not their duty to fill in the gaps based on probably or having a judge make fleeting accusations in a judgement with not explanation as to why ? surely it’s clear the one serving the long prison sentence for abuse is the abuser ? And clearly the victim being put through not only the abuser then finds herself in a whirlwind of family law with her abuser and now she is crazy the well known phrase emotionally unstable ! If anyone is incapable of doing a job for mental health reasons a employer can’t just sack you because they believe in their non clinical opinion you are incapable they need a least a clinical report however family law you can’t parent no clinical opinion needed it’s just based on opinion of professionals who have spent little time to even know you and created a scenario of blame and punishment and then use the victims reaction as further ammunition , I don’t think that is by chance or unlucky I think that is pretty standard . And yes domestic abuse is now the most common used reason for child removal , I’m sorry to burst any bubbles of illusion but indeed I have seen how family courts not only allow convicted perpertrators of abuse to control their victims but actually place victims safety in a extremely compromised position … unacceptable ……. I for one am disgusted by what I seen over the years , I know the difference between right and wrong and no matter which way you put it the family courts and issues surrounding domestic abuse are very wrong I was awarded a 5 figure sum for being the blameless victim of crime in one court less than two weeks later read my judgement I was blamed for the violence he wasn’t even though he was in prison I was I was blamed that is family law culture in abuse it’s victim blaming I genuinely wish I could say otherwise but sadly I can only but tell you from experience and I am disgusted by what I saw . I wasn’t a liar I didn’t make it up I wasn’t out for parental alienation he was convicted and still still I was the piece of dirt on the bottom of the local authorities cafcass and the judges shoes , I’d like to add this world is full of good decent honest people as a rule and not one person has ever treated me that badly since . No one has acted like the cafcass officer or social workers no one or the judges no one basically most people take me for the decent hard working woman I am I’m not perfect but I’m not a child abuser or an abuser neither are my parents , we just all decent people just trying to get on in life after the life changing damage done by the family law system who really had no idea what an earth they were doing other than determination to severe all rights of two children .

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I don’t doubt that there are some serious problems with the system and how it operates. I suspect lack of resources, overwhelmed professionals and shoddy court buildings play a big part in all of that.

      But my fundamental question remains – is Victoria Haigh really the right figurehead to be driving such a campaign? She was found to have caused her child significant harm. This wasn’t on whispers or hearsay but on proper evidence at a variety of court hearings that was not appealed.

      Either you appeal the court findings or you accept them. The only other option is to promote anarchy and the destruction of the rule of law. This won’t protect women or girls.

      Reply
  5. Vittoria

    I am with the belief that I was found to of caused my children significant harm for failing to protect them from witnessing domestic abuse , my only defence in that is that I didn’t wake up on a particular day and think I’m just going to get strangled and attacked whilst holding a two year old . I remember cafcass saying to me “ if things were that bad why didn’t you leave “? and I just got very angry and defensive at that stating the truth it was my house not his I tried so hard to get him to leave every time I would try would end up in stalking pattern behaviours or using the police as manipulation I was frightened it was easier to keep him close and pacify than it was to be his enemy or take control of our lives he wouldn’t allow it . . The truth is everyone was looking to me as the mother as the onus to of controlled the situation whereas in truth I didn’t have any I didn’t know fully what were the consequences or how to end the situation after years of abuse I was so reliant on others to help me out I got a non molestation order pointless excercise as he contested and the court ordered us to work jointly to co parent , nothing changed I was still trapped in the cycle of domestic abuse . Yes the criminal justice system caught up with him I guess some crimes don’t go unnoticed and behind closed doors but yeah this is according to the family law system my fault and the onus is on me to of done something I still to this day know I wasn’t at fault and I actually don’t blame myself for being emotionally drained and not at my best at the time he was married for 13 years before he met me he went onto serve a 6 year prison sentence for his crimes against me I found out earlier last year after coming out of prison he has decided to stalk his ex wife again . I mean they don’t even have children together the poor lady I mean how is one suppose to react to this ? Be in control of this ? I don’t think I’m to blame for a situation I actually had no idea what was the best way to handle like the police said you can put in all the protection you can but the behaviour is in the hands of the perpertrator unfortunately we have a family law system that thinks otherwise .
    I am with the belief that Victoria was engulfed in lengthy litergation to the point the courts stopped Victoria’s attempts to appeal any further , I also believe that Victoria is a successful racehorse trainer living in France in what most would deem relatively privellaged Life with her beautiful daughter who is a very charismatic clever happy child again living far from the lap of poverty or lack of opportunity love and education who adores her mother and the relationship between the two is clear to see also Victoria has retained good relationships with her families I think that two sisters who have never met is a travesty along with severing their own rights to their own family relationships is this not harm ? All I know is family law is based on probability and disclosure of sexual abuse very much like domestic violence is very much a hidden secretive crime behind closed doors evidence needed to convict is often not enough and in family law evidence is not even to a standard of proof just of probably likely . I think it’s easy to grasp a narrative that in fact turns out to be untrue or in law injustice . What Victoria has done is highlight that she did not disclose the abuse her daughter did . Much like other mothers they did not disclose the abuse their child did and they as the child’s voice took it further as any mother would ? I mean if you hid it and did nothing then you could be prosecuted right ? So how does this then turn into losing your child and losing your child to the person who your child disclosed abused them ? That’s a far bigger question surely . I think it’s very easy to deflect away from cases in which children have sat down with clinical and criminal professionals and disclosed detailed accounts of abuse and these have been scrutinised by cps for convictions and not passed the thresholds to meet prosecution case to a custody family law battle which these all of a sudden become coaching or lies ? That is what I don’t trust and I don’t trust it because of the way in which I have seen it from a different prospective admittedly but yes I can see how this could happen

    Reply
  6. Angelo Granda

    Yes, the bigger question is quite clear to any thinking adult who does not turn his or her face away from the truth. Very well put, Vittoria. Even when victims of sex abuse, domestic violence and coercive control, or any other kind of traumatic abuse such as that committed by care-professionals who take children from family unlawfully without a court order PRESENT REAL, CLEAR EVIDENCE, the crimes are covered -up by the Authorities. We have a ‘culture’ of cover-up which is long-standing and continuous as witnessed CONCLUSIVELY by various Public Inquiries,by various criminal court cases,by various appeal court judgments in care-proceedings ,by the various and now common-place apologies issued by Governments,Ministries ,Care-Homes,Archbishops,the Church of England and today on the news ,from the Pope .
    Lawyers should face reality and recognise the part played by the Family Courts which we all agree have serious problems with the system and how it operates. I agree with Sarah that a lack of resources, overwhelmed professionals and shoddy court buildings play a big part in all of that.
    Yet i also suggest that the inferior civil court system with its reliance on inferior standards of evidence forms an integral part of the top-level cover-ups. By declining to investigate real evidence fully and demoting cases to the civil court , the authorities support injustices.
    They know just as well as we do,that by definition, justice is not done in secret,family courts.
    All comments welcome.

    Reply
  7. Kirsten Roya Azal

    My name is Kirsten Roya Azal. I am the author of the blog The Red Mother you are referring to in this post, and I made the interview with Victoria Haigh. I also wrote a reply to your post, here: http://www.theredmother.com/voices-of-moral-authority-can-child-protectors-in-the-uk-be-manipulated/

    I am approaching the misery that is the UK family culture and court system, from the view point that it is part of a larger cultural and socio-economic system. Within these systems individuals function and also mal-function. I define fascism as a form of cultural and social mass-disfunctioning and psychosis that has its roots in corruption. Corruption eats away at a society like a parasite. I have lived in the UK for over 10 years and found it to be a place that lives on pretenses and false promises. Pretenses and false promises are also part of corruption. The UK made false promises to women like Vittoria. I wrote about her case too, here: http://www.theredmother.com/its-jolly-good-fun-a-short-sociology-of-forced-adoption-and-a-tale-of-two-women/.

    The UK justice system promised Vittoria safety from abuse, healing and support, and all it did is to destroy her and her children and behave in unison with the perpetrator. It revealed itself to be a perpetrator itself, to be of the same mind set as a criminal abuser and socio path. Social workers, judges and the foster and adoption care providers all fell in line and showed the garstly reality of the UK society and how it really views women and children in abusive conditions. It takes advantage of them and turns them into commodities and collatorals. How utterly heart less and disgusting. Where is your heart when you talk about her? Where is the heart of England? What is going on with you that you speak with such nonchalance with Vittoria? Can you even imagine what she went through? WHat do you think a mother feels when she believes her partner / former partner is sexually abusing his own kids and then see how the justice system is grinding against her when she reports this? Can you even imagine this? How did Vittoria feel during her last contact with her children? Can you even remotely imagine this?

    You are quoting, that “a lack of resources, overwhelmed professionals and shoddy court buildings” are somehow responsible for the abuse of victims. What you do not mention is the neo-liberal culture that eats away at the UK and makes mind boggling corruptions possible everywhere.

    The blog Researching Reform reports the following in it’s most recent post: “Equally concerning is the allegation that the wife of one of the judges involved in the mother’s case is the trustee and company director of three children’s homes.” https://researchingreform.net/2019/03/04/mother-facing-jail-for-publishing-details-about-her-children-says-council-illegally-terminated-contact/

    A very similar scenario took place in Vittoria’s case. See my post on her case. Why are you not discussing these entanglements between corporate interests and the family justice system? People hate the UK family court system for a reason.

    As for Victoria Haigh: It is down to my personal judgement to believe her story. There are countless cases very similar to Victoria’s. Truth can stare people in the face and they still refuse to acknowledge it and they keep running with the group interest. This is nothing new. Evidence can be constructed by arguments into legal proceedings as you very well know. You are concerned that “figures like her are believed”. You should be more concerned about the corruptions in your system, a system that you a part of and that people rally against now. And they need to rally. What they rally against is the corruption.

    What I find interesting here is your worry how mad people are at you and your system. And you should be. Every injustice and corruption that you defend and allow to happen comes back to haunt you eventually. You have a job of greatest responsibility, but are you living up to that responsibility? Where is your outrage about corruption in the UK family justice system? Are you part of an anti-corruption force? That is what you should be part of really.

    So perhaps of asking if Victoria Haigh has the moral right to be a figure head of a justice movement, you may want to ask yourself what kind of system you are defending.

    Reply
    1. Victoria Haigh

      It’s true these ‘barristers’ defend a system they are brainwashed into believing does good. They are almost part of an Establishment cult, trained to turn a blind eye on their heinous behaviour and the corruption they enable. The abuse of power should at some stage soon, implode and only then will a moral balance resume. I am hoping members of the judiciary are prosecuted for their part in perverting the course of justice which so many of these barristers and judges do, especially when their stage is secret and kept away from media outlets. This is certainly not to protect the child, but their scams carried out against innocent, protective mothers. They should rot in hell when all of my campaigners succeed in shining a light onto their gravy train. It’s ironic I am labelled a child abuser when the crimes of professionals like Sarah Philimore put her into the Rose West category of dangerous psycopaths who need locking away from society. The time is almost upon us to truly expose this barbaric system where child protection does not exist.

      Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          Nevertheless, however VH has expressed herself ,her comments come as a direct product of a broken,inferior Family Court system .
          We should never,ever underestimate the depth of resentment and intense emotions of citizens who feel their human rights have been contravened. This is especially so when they haven’t been given a fair opportunity to express agreements and disagreements in Court. In other countries Mums will fight to the death ( lay down their lives ) to hold on to their children when threatened.
          Unfortunately, because of the broken justice system it is inevitable solicitors,barristers and judges will be in the firing line.It is an occupational hazard for them and naturally they will have to question their own actions and the parts they play in the grand scheme of things. The fact is that this lady is not the only one who ‘hates’ the Family Courts .Everybody does , please see the recent threads ‘Why does everybody hate the Family Courts (parts 1 and 2).
          To compare Sarah with Rose Brown or a psychopath is clearly disproportionate ! Yet so are sanctions imposed by Family Courts totally disproportionate! To liquidate any family and interfere in family life by stopping contact on a basis of a civil court hearing which does not act solely on ‘real’ evidence is wrong period,in my humble opinion. There should be limitations. Less intrusive ,less draconian orders should be enabled. For example, would a heavy fine ( perhaps £5000) have persuaded VH to drop her allegedly false allegations about her ex? Was there a real need to take her daughter from her on the spectre of future ,significant harm? I don’t think so but……

          Reply
    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      It is not down to your ‘personal judgment’ to believe Victoria Haigh. She was found to have caused her child significant harm in a court of law. She did not appeal. Therefore she is a child abuser.

      I do not defend a ‘system’ – I accept there are many problems with it. I have discussed and criticised those at length. But I will always defend the rule of law. Because the alternative is you. And your ability to condemn on your ‘personal judgment’.

      That is not a world I want to live in.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        Sarah, but you do live in a world where citizens are condemned on the ‘personal judgments’ of Family Courts granted the discretionary powers to do so at will, in my eyes, if the opinion of an ordinary parent counts for anything.
        Of course, commentators can believe what they want and use their personal judgment .The difference is that we do not , thank heavens,have the power to impose draconian sanctions against our fellows.

        I have tried to impress the meaning of proportionality on readers.

        1. The Children’s Act 1989 does not inspire disproportionate actions; it decries them nor does it set out to act unlawfully and inhumanely.Neither are such practices present universely within the system ; they are common only in certain areas , to some professionals not all and they move about.
        2. Fears, extremism viz inhumanity in the shape of disproportionality inspires THEM. The ‘best interests of children’ is merely the self cathartic factor adopted. It makes them happy ,they have the implicit self-belief they are doing right and that they are ‘rescuing’ children. They are quite prepared to go to extremes ,act hastily and ignore guidelines, act illicitly and they happily accept wild, guesswork and hearsay evidence . To begin with, the ‘child rescuers’ have a natural interest in reasoned social work and the statutory aim to help and support families but then combine those legitimate passions with an unreasoned fanatacism ; they start with trifling demands of parents and families but build issues up to absurd, disproportionate claims and suggestions ,predications,discrimination etc.

        3. We ,on the CPR, all appear to be in agreement generally that the current system FAILS children and families.It has been discussed widely. The system has failed more by practicing DISPROPORTIONALITY than by choosing any particular scientific option or less invasive alternative. Time and again we read on here about the SUCCESS of various support,training,rehabilitation and reform plans.

        4. Extremism and disproportionate demands and statements are only criticized when practiced by the General Public. It is considered to be perfectly acceptable when it comes from the Authorities. Readers may recall a recent judgment where a Mum was slated in Court for arguing she was right because by doing so she deemed professionals wrong.

        5. It is notable that the extent of disproportionality and malpractice varies from area to area .A good test is whether it varies systematically with the socio-economic characteristics of the particular area. Post-codes . Targeting of the vulnerable etc. etc. must be considered a big factor in injustice.

        6. Is it not also notable that disproportionality frequently becomes the norm due to the need to deal with cases summarily ? This is because of the authorities desire to attain their aims by the quickest and cheapest means possible.Time limits and so on lead to injustice.Observing the safeguards cost time and money.

        Hope this helps. All comments welcome.

        Reply
          1. Angelo Granda

            Well, i have suggested alternatives. When will someone else suggest some?

            All we want is a fair court process fully proportionate to the magnitude of the decisions a Family Court is making . Why should cases depend on the personal judgment of one person with all the bias and discrimination that makes possible? Plus we want due procedures and guidelines,court orders,safeguards in place etc. to be followed scrupulously. Then we want openness and honesty. If we cannot have peer judgment because of cost, then we want strict limits put on the sanctions imposed .We do not want to suffer degradation for life ( contravening article 3 ECHR) on the basis of possibilities and probabilities examined in an inferior court as happens now. By that I mean why should honest citizens be branded and stigmatised FOR LIFE as ‘child abusers’ without being found guilty in a proper court using real evidence? Even if genuinely found guilty of a real offence in a criminal court, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act takes effect after 5 to 10 years.
            I hope this makes more sense to readers. Let us try and work more in sync with the Children Act and think reasonably rather than base decision-making on disproportionate fears.

      2. Kate

        ‘she did not appeal therefore she is a child abuser.’ That is as ridiculous as someone calling you a child abuser for being a cheerleader for a man that was accused of child sexual abuse.

        Personally, if I were to make judgement, I would rather meet Vicky Haigh in person to hear her account.

        Maybe she found that she was not up to appealing after her ordeal? Or she felt that she was not given a fair trial. I do not know and neither do you.

        You speak of evidence, but how about this for an example, if family courts rely on evidence than why are false claims allowed to not only be said in court by Cafcass Guardians and the SS and written into reports and used as evidence? for example mothers having personality disorders when they have never been diagnosed with this before in their life? There are many parents that can not only ‘condemn with their personal judgment’ with evidence to argue against, but so often within the family courts this is not allowed.

        ‘not a world you want to live in’ I a sure many aggrieved parents feel the same about a broken system. Still struggling to understand why you think she is guilty when the family court is so fundamentally flawed. I feel you have no real experience of this. You are speaking of how you think the system should work not how it actually does. If Vicky Haigh is telling the truth can you not at least try to understand why she is so wound up. Wouldn’t you be?

        Reply
        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          No where did I say ‘she did not appeal therefore she is a child abuser’.
          Let me explain again how the law works. If a finding is made against you and you do not successfully appeal against it, that findings stands as the truth.

          If I act for anyone about whom a claim is made that they have a PD then of course I will challenge that evidence. However, PD diagnosis are more art than science and experts may reasonably disagree.

          If Haigh was indeed telling the truth I can understand why she is ‘wound up’. Sadly however the ways in which she choses to express being ‘wound up’ are themselves so abusive and disgraceful that I am afraid I have no higher opinion of her than before.

          Reply
          1. Kate

            ‘It is not down to your ‘personal judgment’ to believe Victoria Haigh. She was found to have caused her child significant harm in a court of law. She did not appeal. Therefore she is a child abuser.’ As stated by yourself 6th March 7:30pm.

            I am referring to when there is no evidence for a PD and the ‘experts’ that may disagree are not experts at all because they are NOT medically trained. A Judge, CAFCASS officer or SS are absolutely not qualified to say that someone has a PD when they have never been diagnosed in their life. Therefore, it has nothing to do with it being more of an art than a science.

            There have also been cases where someone is sent to a ‘court’ psychiatrist only to be diagnosed after one session. When there is nothing on their medical notes prior to this to suggest such a diagnosis. This is highly suspicious, and I am sure that many of those who are medical profession would agree.

            Sometimes woman (not always women but it often is) are too scared to challenge CAFCASS or the SS as these organisations can become more vindictive, and the women can feel that they are fighting an even bigger battle – just look what happens when dv is mentioned. I am sure there are many reasons for not appealing, especially when there is a lack of faith in the system.

            I really do believe that very few woman would make up something as wicked as child sexual abuse if it were not true, and as domestic abuse(physical, emotional and mental) appears to not be taken seriously why would sexual abuse be any different?

            I feel that the biggest problem in the system are Judges (not all) who put far too much faith in SS CAFCASS ETC. I do not understand why they are not held accountable when they mislead Judges. If you are honest, you must have come across this yourself time and time again?

            Did you blog about her being guilty of false allegations of alleged sexual abuse? I am not being funny, I genuinely do not know as I have not followed this story. I am just concerned that she may be innocent, as the statistics regarding what happens if a woman alleges child sexual abuse by the father are concerning to say the least.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            You are right to challenge my drafting, I can see it is not clear for the non lawyers. Let me try again. I did not mean that a failure to appeal equals you must be a child abuser. The point is probably more subtle. When there is a finding of fact that is not challenged, it stands as fact for all time and for all future agencies dealing with her and her child. So as far as all external agencies are ‘she is a child abuser’. But of course, I have to accept that no court is perfect. Judges can and do get things wrong.

            But what other system would you prefer? That we just obey court rulings ‘when we feel like it’? If she was so clearly a victim of a miscarriage of justice as I am told, why didn’t she appeal? As I have said, her behaviour before and since strongly supports me in my belief that the finding of fact was conducted fairly and reached the right conclusions. She is clearly willing to make seriously false allegations against others to get what she wants.

            I do not doubt what you say is true that women are sometimes afraid not to speak up, or their cases for whatever reason are not run well. I do not, for the reasons I have set out at length here and elsewhere, believe Victoria Haigh falls into that category.

            I am sure you are right that very few people are wicked enough to make up malicious allegations that are false and known to be false. I am sure however that a greater number may exaggerate allegations or think something happened when it didn’t, out of stress or fear.

            I am equally sure you are right about the lack of faith in the system. However, I do not see how faith can be restored by supporting people who have been found to act wrongly, as champions against it.

  8. Kirsten Roya Azal

    Sarah, I would greatly appreciate if you & your collegues would ALWAYS ALWAYS defend the rule of law and proper procedure. Dedicated, honest and morally superior professionals need to do that job, and what a tough job it is.

    However..

    I am not some internet mob you can talk down to. I am married to a lawyer with practical expertise in US & UK law, and I know from endless conversations with him and by studying case after case how procedures are manipulated and how the legal process is routinely subverted. I know what “argument” in UK law really means, and I also know how evidence can be made to vanish from procedures and I know how to read “between the lines”. You know very well how cases can be pushed and shoved and how people can be ground into the dust if they do not understand the overall and detailed legal procedures and what kind of tactics nasty lawyers & legal pros typically employ to control them.

    The UK court scene is full of nasties. You know that. In the arena of a proper court most of the so called professonals involved in UK family court these days should be made to hear the proverbial riot act alas they are instead allowed to indulge in continous self-glorification. A crisis of moral, education and training perhaps? Or should we instead talk about the state of Local Councils and their powers to abuse, surveillance, and control people?

    Victoria Haigh was surveillanced and the local council holds secret information about her that it gave to the court behind her back. It is called RIPA. It was brought in as a anti-terrorism legislation, but is instead used whenever the councils meet a legal challenge. It gives them unlimited advantages.

    May I quote from the interview I made with Victoria:

    Red Mother
    Were you surveillanced?

    Victoria Haigh
    I was under surveillance, phones tapped, computer hacked all the usual techniques. Trumped up charges, arrests, being detained, being threatened with being sectioned. All the State oppressive tactics to scare you into shutting up.

    V never saw the secret information the council has in her and she does not know what kind of communication was going on between the court and the council. However, information can be manipulated. People can lie. Why don’t you address that issue of surveillance and secret information held on people and how it is used against them? V had no proper counsel to defend her and demand access to the information held on her. She was cornered and turned into a witch. She had no chance in hell. She fought back with the means she had available. Shame on the UK for not giving her any means to fight this in any different way. SHAME! Instead she ended up in prison, the place the council wanted her to be in.

    Secret courts are not just hidden from the public they also do very secret things with people. During this process people’s lives and sanity are destroyed. It is only down to Victoria’s mental resiliance that she survived this.

    In the end your opinion on Victoria Haigh’s case is also nothing but personal opinion that speaks about your personal interests but not about proper rule of law. There comes a point in any legal system, when it becomes harmful and corrupt and it’s reputation is too damaged people no longer believe in it’s ability to judge fair and with reason. From that point onwards such a system needs to manipulate to hold itself up, but it is in a downwards death spiral. You should face up to that systemic crisis instead of hiding behind cheap arguments and making a pinjata out of Victoria and talking down at people.

    You have in the end avoided to answer me any questions of real concern, and you have also not answered me about Vittoria’s case or about corruption in the family court system and attempted to side track the discussion instead. You are running a blog here and keep a discussion board and since you are a highly informed and educated barrister may ask you politely to bring more to the table then what you brought so far?

    May I bring you at least back into that part of the conversation where we can talk about corruption in the UK family courts (as you don’t seem to be able to talk about Vittoria’s case with the required degree of emphathy and interest).

    In April 2018 Researching Reform reported – based on a story of The Times UK – that “Concealing evidence has taken on a life of its own inside the family justice system, where everything from lying to tampering with evidence is seen as fair game. Unethical and illegal actions are now so routine, that professionals from every government body engage in some form of policy or law breaking on a day to day basis. Whether it’s social workers hiding, destroying or fabricating evidence, individuals pretending to be qualified expert witnesses or lawyers using the back door to sway cases, this kind of ‘bad behaviour’ has become endemic.”

    https://researchingreform.net/2018/04/03/police-are-hiding-vital-evidence-to-win-cases-but-theyre-not-the-only-ones/

    With kind regards.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I am sorry if you have every felt I have ‘talked’ down to you. I also hope that you understand I am aware of the limitations of the family court system and the harm that it can cause to some very vulnerable litigants. I do not however think that is a result of State corruption but rather an inadequate system which is increasingly underfunded.

      As you have shown me the courtesy of engaging with my argument, i will attempt to extend the same courtesy to you.

      I am sure your husband can explain to you the operation of the rule of law and its importance. When a court decision is made it stands as the truth unless and until it is appealed. There have been many court decisions against Ms Haigh. She has appealed none of them. Now, this could be as a result of the most horrendous corruption – or it could have been because the evidence was firmly against her. As you were not present – I assume – at any of the court hearings, you have only her word for what she says about corruption etc. It is odd that she raised none of this at any of her hearings, at least so far as I know.

      I simply do not accept your assertion that the ‘Uk Court scene is full of nasties’ – or at least not that relatively small part of it that I inhabit, that of the Family Courts. on the contrary, I am usually impressed by the hard work and dedication of the judges and other advocates I meet day to day. Of course there are times when I am frustrated by what I think is the wrong decision or wrong approach but the number of times I have appealed – no more than 5 in 20 years – is testament to the fact that (in my view at least) the hearings I attend are conducted properly, fairly and in accordance with the law.

      I am afraid the comments that Victoria Haigh has left on my blog, together with a letter purporting to be from her solicitor that was emailed to me today, simply confirms to me that the findings made against Ms Haigh were fully justified. Possibly we can illuminate these interesting issues further in the forthcoming defamation action with which I am threatened. I shall look forward to it.

      Reply
  9. Angelo Granda

    Kirsten,
    Your paper,The Red Mother , reminds me so much of propaganda issued generally in former Red dictatorships such as Albania.

    The relentless use of language like that will never gain a foothold over here except amongst extremists . We are British and we have seen it all before.

    Try a different tack . Also, please leave VH and other mums alone.Don’t capitalise on injustice ,

    This is not to say you are not welcome to put views on the CPR.. All are welcome and we are certainly in no way prejudiced against foreign opinions but my advice to you is to adopt a less extremist style.
    I do know the internet is international and you are trying to influence the world but this is a British resource .

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      Kirsten,please note I am not criticising your comments on here .I go along with some of what you say and support some of it.I am talking about The Red Mother publication .

      Reply
  10. Anon

    I have read the comments on each side of this debate, the Judgment, the interview.

    I am usually a decisive person, but as someone who has been deemed a ‘child abuser’ by the Family Court, but someone who has constantly sought new medical evidence, attempted a reopening, and now in the process of an appeal of a decision to dismiss said reopening application, I simply cannot decide who has the most credible argument here.

    It is a tragedy that confidence in the Family Court is so low among the public that POTENTIALLY guilty respondents can be given a platform to convene their rhetoric. I wish that I could have confidence in the legal system that you place so much weight on having evidence against this mother. From experience of my own Judgment, its omissions, its assumptions, and its preference of the straightforward evidence and the child abuse narrative, I cannot read any judgment on Bailii without questioning it, doubting it, and dissecting it. On the other hand, the CPS were far more sensible and declared NFA on the basis of the fresh medical evidence I obtained.

    I wonder if the standard of proof should be higher, maybe then I would be more confident? However, I am fully aware that miscarriages of justice occur in the criminal division, so what would that serve?

    I suppose it does not really matter who is right or wrong here: my point is that lack of faith in the Family Justice system can have dire consequences for the innocent parents, likewise for innocent children and the guilty perpetrators that seek to manipulate it.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I agree with you that the lack of faith in the family justice system is now significant and certainly has some real high profile examples of mistakes and errors to support it. This is terrible; we need to do better.

      However, judging from not only the court judgments but also Ms Haigh’s recent interactions with me on line and via her solicitor’s threats over defamation, I am sadly quite clear in my own mind that Ms Haigh is a perpetrator of abuse, rather than a victim of it.

      Reply
    2. Angelo Granda

      Anon, I agree with you and I understand why you have difficulty deciding and putting the various opinions into perspective.I also hear and understand Sarah’s concerns about Victoria Haigh’s extreme rhetoric online along with legal THREATS.
      I have tried just above ( comment dated March 8th) to call the minds of readers to perspective and proportionality. I ask you to look at No.4. on the list.
      Extreme rhetoric and threats of legal action in child-protection is a symptom of intractability. It is commonplace for professionals to direct it towards their targets. It is called authoritarianism ,i suppose. So we can expect victims to return fire with fire. They should not be discriminated against for it by lawyers in court for doing so, in my opinion.When human rights are contravened we must never underestimate the resentment it causes.
      I am sorry you are one who has suffered . In my opinion,anon, the standard of proof is acceptable. Juries in the Crown Court make decisions just the same after considering a matrix of factual evidence. The problem with the Family Court is an inferior one and the matrix does not only include ‘real’ evidence and facts . Lots more is admissible too and most of it is conjecture. Thus there must be limits placed on the powers it has.

      Reply
  11. Pingback: Why does Every One Hate the Family Court? Part III what narrative is gaining traction – and why should this concern us? | Child Protection Resource

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