Why does Every One Hate the Family Court? Part III what narrative is gaining traction – and why should this concern us?

This is a post by Sarah Phillimore

Too long didn’t read: there is a problem what I shall call the ‘DV Sector’, for want of a better title. There are a number of individual women and organisations who garner a lot of media attention, who have books and talks to promote and apparently the ear of credible and influential law and policy makers, including serving MPs. The narrative that some of them promote I think is actively harmful to reasonable debate and the rule of law. Their reaction when challenged is alarming. More people in the sector need to have the courage to speak up about this. 

This is part 3 of what is sadly highly likely to be a continuing series. If you are interested you can read Part 1 here from January 8 2019 and Part 2 from guest blogger Emma Sutcliffe from February 6th 2019.  This is an issue which has troubled and preoccupied me for some time now. I will let my previous words speak for themselves – if you are determined to see me as a ‘shill’ for a corrupt system, or biased against men, or hateful towards women etc, etc, then no doubt you will see what you want to see and no words of mine will persuade you otherwise.

However, the fact that I have been accused of all these things simultaneously (which I suggest is unlikely to be possible) reassures me that I am succeeding in my aim to be as fair and balanced as I can. Because I make people from very different ends of the argument equally angry.

I write this post because I think it is important to share with you something that happened to me recently. I will avoid using names, unless it is central to the point I need to make, as I don’t want this to appear a ‘front’ for any kind of personal vendetta. It isn’t. What I describe here is an illustration of a much wider and general issue which has really serious implications for us all. Because I believe it strikes at the heart of the rule of law, and the trust in which we can place in our court system.

My concerns escalated over the last few days with the publication via social media of a distressing video of a child being removed. This was strongly promoted by these ‘people of prominence’ and apparently taken up immediately without question or thought by a number of influential people such as the MP Jess Phillips and Clare Waxman, the Victim’s Commissioner for London. The reasons why such knee jerk response to one video in isolation can be harmful, and the legal implications of sharing it, have been set out fairly and comprehensively by Lucy Reed on Pink Tape. 

I will go into more detail below about my concerns below.

Giving child abusers moral authority.

I wrote about this on February 4th 2019, outlining my concerns that Victoria Haigh was setting herself up to gather ‘victims’ of the family court system to investigate why so many children were ‘given’ to fathers who perpetrated abuse. Why I was worried will be immediately obvious when you read the published judgments about what she did. I called her a ‘child abuser’ because that is what she has been found to be. I wondered aloud why ‘prominent members of the DV sector’ supported her. The reaction was swift and fierce. I was immediately blocked on Twitter by a number of such members of prominence. Fair enough. You don’t have to engage with me if you don’t want.

However, I then discovered that I now had a lengthy post on a website dedicated to me and my ‘hatred’ for trans women and homosexuals, together wth a lovely photograph of me and speculation about where I got my nice big house as a legal aid lawyer. (From a massive critical illness insurance payout if you are interested, but don’t let that get in the way of insinuations about my corruption). So far, so internet. What was disappointing albeit interesting was to note that a number of Haigh’s supporters had contacted the author. I think I can reasonably assume this because the author of the website has a twitter account with only six followers last time I looked. And one of them was a women ‘prominent in the DV Sector’.

So I think it must have been a person of prominence in the DV Sector who made this comment:

She’s a bully. She was trolling a woman who’s heading a domestic violence campaign, repeating what the family court judgement said about her when the whole idea of transparency is to question these. 

And that’s a very revealing comment indeed. The ‘whole idea’ of transparency in the family court system – which I wholeheartedly agree with and campaign to achieve –  is not to question court judgments. It is rather to know that they have been made and how they have been made. If you disagree with the judgment, you must appeal against it.

There are several court judgments against Haigh. She did not appeal. These judgments stand as the truth. This is the operation of the rule of law. It is not for any person, no matter how prominent they believe themselves to be in the DV Sector, to simply declare that they will not accept or believe a court judgment and that they can rewrite history if they wish.

Then matters took an even more sinister turn.

Vivien Hobbs and The Legal UK Partnership LLP

On 8th March 2019 I received an interesting email from Ms Hobbs from ‘the Legal UK Partnership LLP’ which had an address in Hatton Garden but no web presence at all from what I could find, other than a listing at Companies House. Nor did Ms Hobbs appear registered as a practising solicitor with the Law Society when i checked their website.

Her emails were all headed ‘private and confidential’ but as I do not think you can assert confidentiality over a potentially criminal attempt to extort money, I am going to ignore that. If I am wrong to do so, no doubt Ms Hobbs will take legal action against me.

Dear Ms Phillimore

We represent Victoria Haigh, a racehorse trainer and former model. You will be familiar with our client from your online postings via Twitter and your blog.

We write in respect to certain false claims and allegations made against our client, those being widely published using your barrister profile via Twitter and your blog as the source of such.

Your false claims and allegations include, where you falsely state and insinuate that our client has been convicted of crimes of which she has never been convicted, including, the attempted abduction of a child and child abuse.

Our client is deeply concerned and distressed concerning these false claims. Please therefore in the first instance provide the source of your information to enable these matters to be promptly dealt with.

In the circumstances, it is only sensible that you immediately remove any claim which cannot legally be supported, where we should advise that the continued presence of these false and highly defamatory allegations is causing significant damage to our client’s reputation.

Should we not gain your co-operation by close of business today, we will immediately submit a formal complaint to your regulator and escalate matters otherwise. Please note that a copy of this correspondence is simultaneously being submitted to your regulator anyway to ensure there is no loss of time in dealing with the fallout from this defamation.

We await your urgent reply, however, in the meantime, you may wish to pass a copy of this notice to your insurer.

I found this quite an odd email and immediately doubted its provenance. However, I appreciated that I referred to Ms Haigh as having committed the offence of attempted child abduction when in fact she received a 3 year prison term (later reduced on appeal) for breach of a non molestation order. She approached her child who was sitting in a car on a petrol station forecourt despite knowing that she was prohibited from doing so. The serious nature of that breach was no doubt reflected in the initial prison term of 3 years.

I accept it is always important to be clear and accurate, so I edited my blog post to be clear about the precise nature of Ms Haigh’s criminality, and I made it clear I had done so.

Unfortunately Ms Hobbs was not happy.  She replied on March 14th to say

In the circumstances, we are providing a further twenty-four hours for you to remove all remaining offending material and for you to submit an offer of settlement with respect to the damages due to our client. Should matters proceed to court, our client has been advised that the court would consider the sum of £300,000 as just and reasonable compensation for what she has suffered and continues to suffer. This sum does not take into account any loss of licence which would bring to an end our client’s substantial racehorse training business. We further believe that you have brought your profession into disrepute and acted without integrity, where accordingly, you may be subject to disciplinary proceedings and be disbarred. It is therefore hoped that you act reasonably where we await your urgent reply.

I replied in the following terms. I had previously asked Ms Hobbs to confirm her professional status and give me details of her firm’s insurer, but received no reply to those queries.

I am disappointed but – given the bizarre tone and contents of your emails – not really surprised, to receive no information about your professional status by 4pm today as requested.

Let me be frank. I consider what you are doing is verging on a criminal attempt to extort money with menaces. Your claims and assertions are absurd.

Please do think very long and hard about what you are doing….[redacted]

I do not expect to hear any more from you but please do not doubt my willingness to engage if you do not immediately desist.

It is now April 3rd and I have yet to hear further from Ms Hobbs.  I find it very odd that any kind of venture that purports to be in a position to secure payouts of £300K for their client  has no web presence at all. I remain of the view that this was some kind of attempted extortion and I can imagine many people receiving this kind of correspondence would have been extremely frightened. As no doubt was the intent.

Conclusion

So in just a very short space of time I have seen some clear examples of really abusive and frightening behaviour from those who claim that they are speaking for the voiceless victims of the evil, secret family courts.  To claim that such people cannot be challenged because they are ‘prominent’ in their field is getting things back to front. You earn prominence and respect because of your words and deeds. Your prominence does not insulate you from reasonable criticism of your words and deeds.

To be blunt – as I know no other way to be – am very worried about what is happening in the ‘DV Sector’ and this relentless narrative that the family courts are designed as deliberate tools of oppression against women. As my experiences show, women can be every bit as abusive,  manipulative and dangerous as men. It is naive to claim otherwise. Not everyone who seeks to identify as a victim actually IS a victim.

Distinct binary divisions between ‘perp’ and ‘victim’ are rare. The truth is often much messier than that. Those who seek to deny this obvious truth should not be allowed to hijack a very necessary and serious debate about how to make the family justice system better.

However, sadly it looks as if there will be many more videos to come.

 

EDIT APRIL 4th 2019

I am pleased to note that Clare Waxman has deleted her original tweet sharing the video. What is less happy is that my various questions to her went and continued to go unanswered.

Edit April 4th 2019 a bit later 

I have had more emails from Ms Hobbs who seems even more displeased.

Despite formal notice and your legal and professional obligations, it has come to our attention that you have further fallen in default of those by committing to yet more defamation and breach of duty of confidentiality with respect to recent posts on your website. Unless all reference to our private and confidential communication and ourselves is removed with immediate effect, these further breaches will be added to the Notice of Claim which is now being prepared by counsel following receipt of your BSB disciplinary record.

We note that your past professional misconduct history falls directly line with your current demonstrating extreme recklessness and abandonment of duty in relation to family proceedings. Your behaviour is reprehensible, where it is absolutely clear you are unfit to practice let alone family law. This notice is being copied directly to your regulator which has been made aware of what is in transition, including, where we are seeking disciplinary action and draconian sanctions. We understand that you have also been reported to the police for similar breaches and acts of malice.

And Ms Haigh has begun tweeting.

I have replied to Ms Hobbs

Dear Ms Hobbs

I stand by everything I have said and will willingly repeat all and any of my allegations in any arena.

I have asked you repeatedly for confirmation of your professional status and your firm’s insurance details.

You have failed to provide those details. I draw from that certain conclusions.

Any further emails from you will be deleted unread.

I suggest you get on with issuing your claim, but maybe consider with your client how well her public attempts at intimidation and harassment of me via Twitter this afternoon will play before a court. I confess I find it rather an odd strategy but no doubt your counsel can advise.

 

I do not resile from anything I have written here. I will not remove it unless I am ordered to do so by a person or organisation with rather more authority than Ms Haigh or Ms Hobbs. I shall look forward to defending myself in an open court.

EDIT APRIL 9th 2019

I am grateful to be alerted to the following judgments on BAILII which provide further interesting insights into the operation of the ‘Legal Uk Partnership’.

First we see the case of Welch v Welch [2017] EWFC B32 (19 June 2017) which has this interesting paragraph – emphasis added. The applicant in this case is one Vivien Welch, who I shall assume is now calling herself Vivien Hobbs

It is perfectly clear that the wife’s obsessive behaviour in relation to these matters has continued, arguably worsened. Becoming aware of their identity from the sale documentation, the wife has bombarded the prospective purchaser (Mr Davis) and his solicitors (Hadfields, Butt & Bowyer) with barrages of misinformation and invective deliberately and maliciously designed to frighten them off from the transaction. In these communications she has wilfully misinterpreted the court process and mischievously misrepresented the facts. In a deliberate attempt to add authority to the bombardment she has misrepresented herself as a legal representative of herself practising under the title “Legal UK Partnership” (as far as I am aware she has no legal qualifications whatsoever). Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr Davis has been frightened off – no doubt it was easier to seek a property which did not have these conveyancing complications – and the wife has, once again, frustrated the husband’s legitimate desire to enforce my order of 9th September 2014. The wife is utterly unrepentant about all of this, believing her steps to be wholly justified. There is every reason to believe that, given the chance, she will do exactly the same thing again. One aspect of all this, which makes the wife’s behaviour all the more extraordinary, is that on completion of the sale, she will only receive 1% of the proceeds, and whatever she may receive is already subject to charges which outweigh its value.

Going back a few years to  Welch v Welch [2015] EWHC 2622 (Fam) (31 July 2015) we see the same Ms Welch, this time described at paragraph 3 of that judgment:

n judgments in the present proceedings District Judge Hess has, in a number of places, described the approach of the wife both to that litigation against her first husband and this litigation against her second husband as obsessive, or obsessional, and indeed irrational. By way of example only, District Judge Hess said at paragraph 87 of his judgment dated 9 September 2014 that ‘…in this litigation, and in the previous litigation, the wife has…been obstinate, unrealistic and obsessive’. I stress that those are his words after hearing evidence over several days. They are not my choice of words; I merely repeat as part of the background what that judge concluded.

On one level this is funny. I now await the writ of libel being prepared by Ms Hobbs and her mysteriously as yet unnamed counsel with anticipation boardering on the gleeful.

But on the other hand it is not funny at all. Ms Haigh is being promoted and supported by some ‘big names’ in the DV sector. And this is how she operates. Are those promoting her aware of this. I am very afraid that the answer to this question is ‘yes’. The implications for the progress of any meaningful discussion about this area of law and practice are pretty stark. If your campaign is fuelled by the obsessive and irrational – where do you think it is going to end up?

 

74 thoughts on “Why does Every One Hate the Family Court? Part III what narrative is gaining traction – and why should this concern us?

  1. emma

    It is incredibly confusing to be drawn into these ‘Trial by Twitter’ episodes. I was tagged in that video and I instinctively retweeted it as you would if you saw a child being ‘dragged away’ in the street as it is human instinct to step forward to help a screaming child. But I then felt incredibly uncomfortable as I had no idea of the background and I’ve been threatened myself that a video of my child in apparent distress would be ‘released’ and I know that video was created to try to ‘prove’ that I was being disruptive and was completely out of context. Furthermore, what is the impact of traumatising everyone who watches it and infact the right of the child not to be publicly exposed. After several hours of worry that I was adding to the distress I deleted the RT.

    I’m a prominent promulgator of the merits of social media to provide therapeutic support and offer insights in the field of medicine and voice of the patient in research and development. In that ‘sector’ transparency about how medicines are made and having a lay language has been transformative to dispel myths, misperceptions and miscommunications. Therefore, I’m a supported of using social media to raise the voice of the parent/child/provide transparency about the procedures in family court.

    Days later, I’m still disturbed by even the need to post this video on a public channel.

    Family court was terrifying for me. Trial by Twitter felt just as frightening at the weekend …

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Well done for thinking about it and changing your mind on reflection. I think many people don’t take that second step. Its easy to be quick and instinctive on social media; we all do it. I think the real problem is not being willing to admit you made a mistake. I am really concerned that for e.g. Clare Waxman has just deleted her tweet but not taken the time to respond to any of the people who quite rightly, challenged her initial decision to republish that video. I think that is utterly irresponsible given her position.

      The real evil of such videos as you identify is that it is so easy to manipulate the viewer into feeling certain things. We have no idea what happened just before filming started or what happened after it stopped. Context is very important.

      Reply
  2. Angelo Granda

    My brief summary.

    The Family Court is terrifying and the whole c.p. system out of out of control. In many ways, it epitomises authoritarianism and bureaucratic method gone wrong and the result is inhumanity.
    It is the duty of the judiciary to put the system right,bring it under control and ensure the system operates according to the law.Meanwhile inhumanity,terror and injustice will continue.

    Trial by twitter and the social media ,online extremism,lynch-mob fashion judgments, disproportionate reaction and so on are equally ( no less) terrifying and out of control.
    Whose duty is it to bring it under control? I don’t believe anyone currently has the power to bring it under control because they are global resources operated by multi-national interests.
    I believe the whole social media problem and internet rules as a whole can only be tackled internationally. The only way to control it is by convention instituted by the United Nations. I don’t think any one country has the power to act alone.
    Meanwhile, unlawful videos ,libel,slander ,hate attacks and all manner of terrifying injustices will continue .

    Reply
  3. Katy Carr

    Hilarious on one level that, in threatening defamation proceedings, Ms Hobbs hasn’t bothered to acquaint herself with the Pre-Action Protocol, let alone basic rules of grammar. Have you reported her activities to the Law Society?

    Reply
      1. Mark C

        The SRA has a page on their site about how to report bogus solicitors, so I suppose it depends if she is “acting as a solicitor” in corresponding with you in this way.

        Reply
        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          She is careful NOT to identify herself as a solicitor but the entire tone of the correspondence and name of her ‘firm’ are clearly meant to give an impression that this is some kind of legitimate legal entity.

          Reply
  4. Angelo Granda

    This is slightly off subject but I would like to comment that the legal profession should give more thought to the use of e-mails.
    Perhaps,solicitor’s formal letters on paper delivered by hand or Royal Mail only should be counted valid .
    I do realise solicitors e-mails can be useful in day-to-day communications and that they are usually accompanied by security warnings and legal wavers etc. but i don’t think, ethically, they should have the same professional value as an actual paper letter or document.
    This is just a layman’s opinion and readers may or may not think it relevant.
    I imagine many people fire off e-mails impulsively rather like they do when messaging on twitwitter and facebook. Would such e-mails be granted the same value as evidence in a Court as would a formal letter?

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      Can i add on the subject of professional ethics that , in my experience , solicitors do not use e-mails without seeking the express consent of clients etc. beforehand .
      Thus , a warning or threatening communication ( e-mail) from anyone via e-mail can, ethically, be treated as unwanted spam , trashed and /or blocked.
      Incidentally ,Sarah, i may be quite wrong, but i don’t think barristers communicate by e-mail or by letter ; they normally set up face to face meetings when performing their various legal functions,don’t they?
      Is Ms. Hobbs just a social media troll?

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        I communicate all the time via email. My job would be impossible otherwise. I am often travelling or in court. It is very difficult to telephone and face to face meetings are often extremely inefficient if client has to travel long distance – or I have to travel long distance. The problem here is emphatically NOT the use of email!

        Reply
    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Yes. There is no problem with an email per se. The problem here is that a woman who is not a lawyer is sending quite ridiculous and threatening emails and has a long history of this kind of behaviour. It doesn’t matter whether she does this via email or post. i have a copy of it regardless!

      Reply
  5. Angelo Granda

    I don’t suppose the regular,qualified legal profession has a patent on the use of the word ‘legal’ thus i doubt if we can stop semi-trained folk,perhaps ex-solicitor’s clerks or parent’s advocates ( perhaps MKF’s) whose aim is to assist self-litigants from sending warning letters either by e-mail or by post. I suspect the original intention MAY have been to hold out an olive branch and to mediate/broker some sort of retraction or apology and bring about some sort of reconciliation.
    Regular solicitors issue such letters as part of their normal functions and often accompany their attempts at achieving an agreement with threats of possible legal action which might also warn of suggested monetary settlements which may be sought.
    Whether that could be termed ‘extortion’ ,i doubt, and the very fact that an official letterhead has been used on which no effort was made by the writer to falsely represent herself as a qualified solicitor speaks for itself.There does not appear to be any deception.
    Please note,Sarah, i am not taking sides against you, i am neutral,i’m just giving an ordinary layman’s view.
    Extortion ,illicit threats and heavy-handed warnings of court action usually take place in private meetings,behind closed doors , unrecorded ,not minuted etc. etc. In fact rather like when LA staff blackmail parents into signing S20’s and letters of expectation.But that belongs to another thread not this one.
    I have to say that it must be very unsettling even frightening for actual lawyers to receive heavy criticism, false allegations and so on from non qualified self-litigants because it will go directly against what they regard as the normal state-of-affairs. It’s usually the other way round,isn’t it? I deplore V.H’s actions if her claims are uncalled for. Anyone would! However, the actual e-mail has produced results; it led to an exchange of views ,Sarah was able to reconsider and put a more qualified opinion. Hopefully ,VH will also reconsider and relent on the threat of legal action.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Olive branch? I think not. One of the emails demanded money otherwise bogus legal action would commence for at least £300K. I call that attempted extortion.

      Reply
  6. Angelo Granda

    Regarding womens action groups and men’s action groups, let us remember that bias does exist in Family Courts thus both of the groups have cause to campaign and protest about it.
    There are only two ways to preclude bias precisely, from what i can see.–
    a) Juries but these would have to be paid for by the applicant/s.
    b) mediation and INDEPENDENT arbitration as discussed on ‘Why does every one hate the family courts’ parts one and two.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Hmmm. You seem to be saying that the family court is biased against men AND women at the same time. So in reality, not biased at all then?

      Reply
  7. Angelo Granda

    Reality,reality…. I and many others are saying that Family Courts can be biased. There is always a possibility of bias because of the set-up of these inferior courts which depend upon the discretion of assessors who aren’t totally independent and impartial and in their turn one Judge has the power to make decisions at his or her own discretion.
    Sarah ,this element of bias is inevitable and i believe you have said so. There is always at the very least a possibility of it. Whilst such a ‘possibility’ may be acceptable in inferior courts ,in my opinion, that is not so in any Court able to make decisions which have the power to interfere so drastically in family life and withdraw human rights.
    Of course, they will not be biased towards both men and women at the same time. They may well be against one or the other in a private law case ,though, and in public law , they may well be biased against parents ( male and female) at the same time in favour of the authorities.
    I hope that is more clear.

    Reply
  8. Angelo Granda

    Does anyone agree with me about bias in Family Courts. If not, why do so many complain about it and ‘hate’ them so much? Why is this the third post on the subject?
    This is just an ordinary citizen’s view but to give an example. VH gets a 3 YEARS stretch for apparently contravening a court order and approaching her daughter on a garage forecourt. The Authorities aren’t even called to account when they take children unlawfully, when they traumatise and neglect them in care, when they are dishonest in Court and when they contravene Court orders etc.
    The reality is that ordinary citizens don’t need legal diplomas or any professional expertise on any level to recognise blatant bias when they see it. Obviously victims of it will campaign against these Courts.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      You really need to read the many published judgments about Haigh to understand the full extent of her bad behaviour. If you re not willing to do that, then I am afraid I treat your comments about her with little interest.

      She is a perfect example of a person who behaved appallingly and hurt her child – yet now claims it was all the fault of the evil family courts. This is sadly not uncommon behaviour and is not excused by the times that the State fails to meet its own expectations.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        I have not at any time even tried for one minute to discount appalling behaviour on the part of Haigh or anyone else.
        Sarah,in my humble opinion ,you have little interest in proportionality. Not only you, the problem is common to Family Courts in general!
        To suggest that anything within those judgments warranted three years inside is preposterous.
        The Judicial system is broken. Please , why can’t we stop pretending that Family Courts make decisions on ‘real’ evidence? They don’t.
        As regards justice is concerned, we should have strict,specific guidelines and procedures and decisions should only be taken on specific,factual evidence. After all they are supposed to be Courts of Justice,aren’t they?

        Reply
          1. Angelo Granda

            We are all entitled to our views; the Appeal Court had a more proportionate view on the lengthy sentence than the lower court , one more in tune with mine. A binding over to keep the peace or even a suspended sentence would have sufficed, i think. Would there have been three judges?
            I reckon permission to appeal should be automatic and appeals legally funded in all serious public law cases.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            We are all indeed entitled to our views. So long as we are prepared for those views to be subject to examination and criticism. If you think Haigh’s brainwashing of a child and disgraceful defamatory campaign against the child’s father is somehow ‘just one of those things’, if you think her clear contempt for court orders merits no punishment – well, those are your opinions. They are not mine.

          3. Angelo Granda

            But surely readers can see that i do not think that at all.
            I do not feel it was of those things and something has to be done when children are brainwashed and when either party to any case adopts such an intractable attitude. Any criticism i have is about the lack of proportionality practiced in Family Courts in reply to the question ‘WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE THE FAMILY COURTS?’.
            Were they to stick to specific facts ,surely matters would become clearer to all and the lies,half-truths and inconsistencies etc. would be simpler to unravel .
            When a woman makes allegations of a man or vice-versa of a criminal nature then they should be put into the hands of the Police for investigation and possible prosecutions in a proper court. If no facts to support allegations ,so be it. The Court to throw out false allegations but not withdraw any parties right to make them .Clearly the Family Court then will not have to make findings on guesswork and its own assessments and value judgments of the personalities.
            My other criticism was about bias in these Courts which is inescapable by the very set-up as we already know. In tug-of-love cases, (as we can see in Mary Jane’s comment), the two parties will usually be giving evidence and making allegations which are diametrically opposed. Most of it will be non-factual thus attempts should be made to mediate , conduct a FACTUAL inquiry then arbitrate on disagreements before the Family Court proceedings even commence as has been suggested by myself and others several times. I am merely continuing with a theme proposed many times on other threads.
            It is quite clear to all of us that there is a considerable ‘bias factor’ in Family Courts and it does seem that the lawyers themselves are guilty of it. They are all for punishing contempt of Court and its procedures ,orders and so on EXCEPT when the CP professionals are the culprits. Then they turn a blind eye. I just cannot go along with that attitude, i think all parties should be punished when they are dishonest or in contempt.

          4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            The problem – at least for me – is that you are using the Haigh case as a platform to further berate the system. I find this quite triggering given what I know about the way Haigh behaved and how she is now attempting to set herself up – with some high profile support! – as a campaigner against the ‘evil secret’ system that in reality quite rightly condemned her.

          5. Angelo Granda

            Sarah, perhaps a case could be made for the use of polygraphs during factual inquiries carried out pre-proceedings.
            I believe they are quite reliable these days and that they are used extensively across the pond.

          6. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            But polygraphs measure ‘arousal’ not necessary lying. Psychopaths will lie quite happily with no emotional arousal. So I am not at all confident that they are a cure all or are as reliable as you would wish.

          7. Angelo Granda

            Naturally i regret it when my criticisms go down the wrong way and rile you personally,Sarah. Yet I do feel it necessary.
            Lawyers should think more about their principles. They should always bear in mind the ‘ garbage in, garbage out’ principle and never take judgments at first sight, a point which is supported by Mary Jane in her first paragraph.
            I repeat my opinion from above.
            QUOTE: The Judicial system is broken. Please , why can’t we stop pretending that Family Courts make decisions on ‘real’ evidence? They don’t.
            As regards justice is concerned, we should have strict,specific guidelines and procedures and decisions should only be taken on specific,factual evidence :UNQUOTE.
            Another principle which lawyers especially should always be mindful of is that everyone is human and that they must be treated with humanity . It is the clear responsibility of all lawyers ( especially judges) to handle all cases fairly and to act proportionately at all times.This applies even to those who are found guilty of the most heinous offences. Some extremists may rush into judgment and string them up (within 26 weeks) but it is the duty of lawyers to ensure justice. FOR ALL. Even those who they may take a particular dislike to due to character defects,intractability and so on. Even campaigners and protesters.
            Lastly, I stress again, contempt of the Court process and lack of honesty should be punished whichever side it comes from. In fact,I believe professional contempt is worse than that of parents and should be jumped upon more heavily. Cases rely on professional integrity.

  9. Mary Jane

    Many published judgments? and how many of those are honest when you have so called professional ppl lying, yes and i do have evidence of that, lets say totally false evidence finds its way into your legal documents and is given as evidence against you, there is no justice in family court, alot of corruption hearsay and misinformation. I wonder how many ppl this has happen too. When there is that level of corruption in family court who knows what your reading, you state judgements well id say a lot of judgements are false if family court is anything to go by.

    Family court is evil and it’s not where any sort of justice is done, its where every breach of human rights exist, where family means nothing where loving your child and protecting your child means nothing, truth doesn’t exist in family court.

    The state fails in every expectation and if you think justice is done in family court then your living on cloud cuckoo land.

    so don’t mind me when i take your words or opinion as a pinch of salt because i have been on the other end of this corruption and my 2 sml children that are the most vulnerable ppl in society which should be protected and were born in the uk who the father didn’t show up till years after the birth and should of been protected from a father 1, who is terminally ill with stage 4 cancer, lives alone in california in the most violent city in the state where their next door neighbour is a pedophile and about 200 in the surrounding area , his family have disowned because he is a pedophile and violent and spent time in federal prison for drug running, that couldn’t prove his finances for the last 2 years, that had been proven to lie to the court about important relationships and his health and all this they give him full custody, because i’m the disgusting human being for even accusing this man of this.

    no i’m not a drug addict or alcoholic i have not committed any crime but i did try to protect my children from a man that his own family stated as a pedophile he slept with his own 13 year old stepsister in the family home, and my 8 year old child had become sexulized they witnessed violence from him punching his own sister in the face and trying to kill the dog my own children told me this.

    i went through family court in the states first brought my children home after spending 2 years in the states, so when i brought my children home they had emotional issues after what they’d been through and witnessed and what they had be subjected too whilst they’d be alone with said father.

    What father tells his 8 year old little girl all men are weak because of their penis and multiple other things.

    Absolutely horrendous thing to even try to contemplate and then told i’m lying and told i’m a disgusting human being for even assuming this man of sexual abuse.

    I know all dads ask their children to take pics in bed on skype at 1.30am and delete all their conversations because what sort of conversations include the words orgy, yes i produced that as evidence at court. I also produced evidence that i’d also given to my solicitor in the states at the time of the father hitting our lil boy across the face hard slap with welp marks where it bruised and drew blood where the fingers had been. disregarded no one cares.

    I’ve been a good person all my life i don’t lie why would i, i suppose as a hf aspie i don’t understand why ppl lie or the reasons they do it, i just loved my children wanted to protect them and keep them safe, he admitted to spanking his 5 year old son the father he admitted to spraying deodorant on our and lil girls private parts which really hurt her, because he said about feminine odor, why does that matter, what normal parent does that he admitted to letting them walk alone in the dark on their own to the child minders when he got taken back into hospital, this is not a place that’s safe for adults to walk alone in the day time let alone at night.

    The assessment done by the fostering and adoption agency of america said no to him having our children, his oncologist said maybe he could look after them, yet uk court failed to gain access to his medical records which i had previous stating he was terminally ill and produced for court which was also ignored.

    My whole family came together we had lost our brother 6 months before all this, my other brother and his wife stated that they would take my children and i agreed to this to keep them safe because that’s my priority, whom are fit and healthy and passed all assessments, yet this was also thrown out.

    As a parent who has also been in care and this is a reason also stated why i couldn’t possibly be a good parent. I AM A GOOD PARENT THAT LOVES MY CHILDREN, i couldn’t believe what went on in family court, what social workers do and the whole mother is the enemy and must be destroyed at any cost and they have destroyed me because how do you come to terms with failure to protect your children, i felt helpless to do anything because i’m just a mom all i could be was honest and truthful, but family court doesn’t have anything to do with truth just lies and mistakes are made and it’s just covered up with another lie.

    So whatever judgments your stating how do you know they’re honest when the actual ppl involved in family court are so dishonest.

    Parents are lambs to the slaughter in family court and there is no justice and that’s my experience, its inhumane everything you believe about family and love and the love you have for your children is taken away, my whole family supported me with my children and were involved with them and took care of them also and older brothers and sisters and one is a police officer don’t you think if they thought anything untoward was going on they had a duty of care also, as a whole family we were in shock, we just couldn’t believe what was going on and these ppl are suppose to be professionals and protecting children.

    They tore my family apart left us heartbroken and i’ve not function since yes my whole world has fallen apart, they didn’t even let me say goodbye to my children, its the most cruelest thing i’ve ever experienced in my life and no i don’t have a life any more how can i when i know what i know, my only crime is having social services involved in my life, i’ve never been a danger to no one in my life, so you tell me how family court social services can get away with all that.

    where is the justice for my children why were their needs not more important, no lets place them 7k miles away with a man thats violent and got a federal prison sentence for running drugs, whos terminally ill, maybe 2 years left, on his own cause none of his family will have anything to do with him that is living in one of the most violent murders,drug,pedophile infested cities in california, that his own family have admitted he slept with a child already. Because that is really safe for my children isn’t it you’d want that for your own children wouldn’t you? just think about it.

    THAT’S YOU’RE FAMILY COURT JUSTICE!

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      Mary Jane, Thanks for your contribution. Obviously i cannot comment on any allegations you make about your ex. but I do agree with you comments about the Family Court system. The Courts are inhumane and parents are like ‘lambs to the slaughter’. The fact that you are a parent who has also been in care is probably the reason why you were condemned and the issue was probably decided well before the final hearing possibly at the Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH). That will have clinched it for the LA and the Guardian. You will have been helpless to do anything because if you had a lawyer .he or she was probably compelled to accept the decision made at the IRH and would not have been granted the time to persist with arguments in your favour. He or she may have agreed the issues beforehand anyway having discussed them with panel colleagues (in your absence) prior. The emphasis in Family Courts is not on Justice ; it seems they are more interested in operating in a business-like manner with the main issue being keeping costs to the minimum, enabling summary justice in the shortest possible time and ruthless efficiency.
      I am afraid that is not how Justice and truth can ever be achieved .Justice requires time and it costs money . Kangaroo courts as you have described are INHUMANE.
      You ask us to think about it, well i have done. If you are still with us and you read this,i hope you will agree with me that ,for vulnerable parents,it resembles playing chess against a computer .You can’t win.As you said,it’s unbelievable.

      Reply
  10. John N

    Hi Sarah.
    This comment isn’t about the family court – per se- but I was curious what your take was on the recent reports in the press about judge Sarah Buckingham telling defendant Victoria Parry that ‘she would have been in Jail if she had been a man’. If you google ‘Drink driver spared jail and given another chance by judge because she is a woman’ you will find the reference in several newspapers.

    I gather that complaints have been lodged with the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office. Is this a case of ‘no smoke without fire?’. Seems to me that if the report is accurate, and that the judge in question has appeared to show bias in that court, then it’s perhaps reasonable to assume that others in the family court system might exhibit similar leanings. I haven’t read the article above (yet) so will comment another time I was just curious what you thought about this report.
    Kind Rgds

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I haven’t read into it in any great detail but my understanding is that this is an over simplification of the judge’s remarks and she was referring to the mitigating factors offered by the woman; not simply giving her a free pass because she had a vagina. The latter would of course be unacceptable and rightly a source of worry.

      Reply
  11. John n

    Hi Sarah
    I know this isnt linked to family law but I wondered what you thought about the reports in the press that claim judge Sarah Buckingham told a a female defendant in Warwick Crown Court that she “would been jailed if she had been a man” . Let’s assume the account is accurate. Should she be sanctioned?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      If that account is accurate, yes the judge should be sanctioned and re-trained. However, I think there was more behind the remark than has been assumed by some reports.

      Reply
    2. Angelo Granda

      In my view, as a common parent, the criminal courts are very strict as regards sentencing offenders and they must always take into account proportionality and the effectiveness of the various sanctions it has the power to impose.
      There are many factors and many reasons why imprisonment will be counted disproportionate in the case of women as opposed to men.
      Most importantly,if they are dealing with a mother, the resulting damage done to a family’s overall welfare by jailing her will be a crucial factor. The paramount welfare of children and the emotional damage by separation must be a major consideration.
      Sending a man down is often more proportionate to the offence committed and a spell away in custody more effective.
      I suggest that Family Court lawyers should retrain and follow the lead of Judge Sarah Buckingham not vice-versa.
      Of course, women should be treated differently to men.

      Reply
  12. John n

    Hi Sarah
    Sorry for the duplicated posting. The first one wasn’t visible last night and I assumed it went into your spam filter hence the second. I read the above article. I am sure you share my view that the letters were not written by a legal professional – the choice of words and subtle errors in grammar seem to make that clear. Indeed, I agree that it’s strange and concerning that this nonsense occurs on social media.

    From the comments above, it’s clear the topic generates heat rather than light but frankly I feel in despair that anything can be done about it since the ability to enact legislation to support change is in the hands of a body of men and women whose intelligence, perceptiveness and planning skill is largely, to put it kindly, questionable..

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Sadly I agree with your last point. We are not governed by functioning adults. I am fearful as to how this is going to develop over the years. It can only get worse.

      Reply
  13. Angelo Granda

    John n, We should all think more positively and enact the Government’s POSITIVE ‘vision for change’ . We should never despair.
    Professionals should consider frontline practices within their own particular sphere of operation .Forget about the others.It gets us nowhere when they continually seek to cast blame about.Lawyers seem to push the blame on anyone but themselves. They blame parents saying they don’t understand issues or because they are not perfect, they blame politicians for being dishonest and stupid, they blame social workers for being under-financed and badly managed.
    Yet it is the judiciary which issues Court orders and shatters families. Nobody else.
    I hope this sheds a little light. I have written above a couple of times that the Judicial system is broken. It’s management ,intelligence,perception and skills are questionable.That is the reality. Sarah has said similar in the past. In my view, lawyers should put their own houses in order. Accept reality however disagreeable , it must sink in before anything will change.
    We shouldn’t despair and allow fears for the future to take over.
    I have mentioned before that if the judicial system is broken due to an obvious funding problem , it has the power to put matters right. It holds the power and can easily change the balance. How? The Law says that the essence of family life should not be interfered with without a fair and proportionate trial of rights,responsibilities etc. The finances necessary to ensure fairness ( article 6 ECHR) are not there thus no orders should be issued until they are.
    I feel funds would then be found . Not because of a miracle but because of a change to frontline practices.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      Please may i add that the Government’s ‘vision for change’
      demanded RADICAL changes to practice at the front line not never-ending tinkering and further research into issues.
      The time for incessant discussion and pondering has been and gone.
      I have made a clear suggestion which readers may or may not consider positive. All comments ,other propositions and disagreements will be welcomed by me.

      Reply
  14. Angelo Granda

    Thanks for the interesting link,Sarah.
    One thing i would like to make clear to readers is that it is never my intention to blame lawyers or anyone else for the failures of an entire system.Systems don’t operate like that.
    I don’t believe in playing a ‘blame game’.
    There are so many things at fault within the child-protection system and to find solutions , we should not think of blaming anyone in particular .The problem is systemic ; everyone carries part of the can when children are failed (parents included ). When considering their own part , the various professions should not feel critics mean to load everything on their shoulders; we are not. I always say if the cap fits,wear it ,if not let it roll off.
    When analysing system failures,we should follow the lead of the aviation industry,find out where the system has gone wrong , not seek to allot blame.
    We have to consider the system as a whole and,as i say,there is so much wrong. However all systems have certain basic properties . The first thing which is crucial is focus. In child-protection the focus should be on making life better for children .Their paramount interests are to be together with natural parents except in the direst circumstances. The system goes wrong because of the false ideology that the care system is better for them .That is a monolithic myth ; children are taken into care for many reasons but mainly because the LA’s prefer it to supplying support services. There reasons are varied. It may be because it is easier and more p.c. for the Local Authorities. It may be because of the culture of sex abuse rife since at least the 1940’s. Children face exploitation ,neglect and degradation in care. The risk involved far exceeds any risk of harm with parents especially when we know families can be offered support and children monitored. None of the professionals appear willing to acknowledge or even talk about about the institutional abuse despite all the recent and past revelations. We cannot deny it goes on.
    In considering how and why systems fail, the second vital reason for failure is lack of control. We have to look at the cybernate features involved ,i.e. the auto-mechanisms which have to be put in place to regulate the whole.
    The ultimate regulator in child-protection is the Judiciary and Family Courts. We agree the judicial system is broken.
    Sarah, take it from me that in every system , it is essential that the regulatory system is serviceable and effectively used. An example,in a central heating system, if the thermostat fails, the boiler may blow up! If guidelines and safeguards aren’t in place and used, the effects are deadly to any system.
    Clearly we can’t blame lawyers entirely for a broken justice system. If shortage of resources is the cause, its down to the financial management. Yet i believe the lawyers do have the power ( as well as the duty) to ensure justice.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      To all readers, The CPR was formed some 5 years ago. In my opinion, one big lesson we should have learnt by now (2019) is that discussion , research and the study of statistics DOES NOT solve the problem we all want to be addressed decisively.
      To solve the systemic problems, constructive ACTION and change is called for.
      It was recognised in 2016 following a thorough analysis by the Government that the Children Act 1989 was basically sound and that problems lie in front line professional interpretations of the statute along with front line practices.
      The Government produced plans for change and published it. Radical changes to management structures and general practice was demanded.
      Nearly three years later Please take a look at this link:-

      https://twitter.com/StJohnsChambers/status/1118891363704164353?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Eembeddedtimeline%7Ctwterm%5Eprofile%3AC_P_Resource%7Ctwcon%5Etimelinechrome&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fchildprotectionresource.online%2Fcategory%2Fevidence%2F

      What I read from the article is much the same as what we knew in 2016. Nothing ever changes!
      1. We should FOCUS on the true aims of the Children Act. Families to be supported and kept together ; removal of children only in very, dire circumstances and when process has been followed proportionately.
      2. Children’s welfare to be the paramount consideration.If cases are not conducted correctly and all the less invasive alternatives have not been fully examined but rejected for financial or any other reasons, the NO ORDER
      principle should be enacted by the Family Courts as the statute commands.
      Sorry if I am repeating myself but I foresee the Government will also have to repeat itself sooner or later. No-one seems to follow its recommendations!
      Constructive action is essential.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        We can’t act unless we have an agreed factual foundation on which to act. That seems as elusive as ever sadly. Your focus appears almost entirely on the failings of lawyers and the courts. You have openly scoffed when I talk about lack of resources. This is why nothing ever happens. People are pulling in all sorts of directions. Everyone seems keen to have their ‘pet’ cause be the one and only. In my view there are a great many of complicated and interlocking facts behind the mess we are in. We need to be able to agree what they are, put them in some kind of hierarchy of importance and devise a plan to meet them.

        my view is that proper support for parent advocacy schemes would go a long way to ameliorate some of the difficulties in lack of trust and communication. I am pleased to see that some groups are becoming established in different areas. However, that will have little impact on the damage done to the fundamental principles of the Children Act by the lack of financial support from various governments.

        Reply
  15. Angelo Granda

    Sarah, Thanks for the reply as always.
    I have my views ,please do not think i am scoffing,i try to put constructive criticism and my version of the truth.
    Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, what you say above makes little sense in more ways than one.But ,of course,mine is only the opinion of a lay citizen.
    I suppose people do have ‘pet’ causes and mine is that each and every case is different thus it is impossible for all of us to agree on a common factual foundation on which to act but only a theoretical one. I say that the object of the lawyers and the Court is to establish a FACTUAL foundation on which to act in each individual case not to rely on untested hearsay, professional ‘assessments’ and cloud-cuckoo land evidence in the shape of unlawfully-collected and unconfirmed ‘data’ and Police intelligence.
    I realise this view will not be popular amongst lawyers but i am afraid to say ,to me, the point i am making is right at the top of the hierarchy of importance. Facts are to be established before correct appraisals can be made.Then if it is found that the LA has conducted the case incorrectly or presented false evidence , their application must be refused. If that happens a few times,they would soon change their ways. The reason so many children are in care ( and why applications are rocketing) is simple.Because the Courts let the LA’s get away with it!

    Again, as regards parent advocacy schemes,these were discussed and proposed at CPR Conf.2016 and Annie began work on her own scheme at that time.3 years ago.
    Where are we now? Not much further forward because the LA’s will neither finance them or facilitate advocacy and mediation. We have discussed it many times since and readers may recall i said at the time that whatever new processes or guidelines are put in place ,they are useless when the Courts permit the LA’s to flout them at will. Which they do!
    As for financial resources, if the lack of them, is the reason why support plans are rejected, then that fact should be established in Court. All evidence contra-indicative to removal should be given honestly alongside all alternatives to removal. I money causes them to be rejected then the application should be refused or removal will be instantly appeal able. Honesty is required and pleading a lack of resources is no excuse.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      again, with regard to your views on evidence, I simply struggle to understand your point. Police data is good evidence. If a parent denies its been properly recorded, the police officer who made the recordings can be bought to court to be cross examined. But given that there is very little reason for anyone recording a 999 call – for example – to be wanting to stitch up a parent, courts are often prepared to accept it on face value. What on earth is wrong with that? Its a proportionate response. Courts don’t place huge reliance on ‘untested hearsay’ – thats why we have contested hearings and that is why courts will require primary evidence wherever possible. I simply do not think your argument here is based on a sound foundation which is why you keep on repeating it and i keep on rejecting it.

      We do at least seem to be further forward with regard to parent advocacy groups as a number have developed over years. but there are still no national standards/guidance which is a great shame and is what is needed.

      Reply
  16. Angelo Granda

    The golden rule when using Police reports, intelligence and recorded data is that it is not reliable EVIDENCE and it is never intended to be used as EVIDENCE in a court of law. Police will never,ever use such material as evidence without first carrying out a full and proportionate investigation which includes vouching for and cross-referencing all information and data.
    When sharing and imparting intelligence ,PWIN reports and data to partner agencies , the Police do not intend LA’s for example,to use it irresponsibly, it must be treated with great respect. It certainly should not be recorded on the LA database for future reference ( unlawful without the subject’s consent) and adopted by LA lawyers as an EVIDENCE BASE to be used in the Family Court.
    There are different kinds of intelligence,open source,closed source etc. and all of it is recorded by the Police to help with enquiries not to define them. It is tentative and tendentious, most is critique and conjecture and much is false and/or malicious.
    The problem is that SW’s and other cp professionals use computer databases as an oracular ,evidence base and seem very adept at disguising the information within as FACT.
    The Courts make a grave mistake if they accept any of it at face-value and that includes notes of 999 calls which are often made in panic.
    Sarah,I suggest this link as a starting point for you and all interested readers:-

    http://ukcrimeanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/11/5x5x5-system.html

    Sarah , with respect, think again before rejecting my argument. I have laid out in ‘WHY does everyone hate the Family Courts part 1’ thread exactly why . Everyone has lost trust in lawyers and the Judges.The truth is that the Court system is broken;in particular it does not have the time to test all the hearsay and data fully and the lawyers are often quite prepared to accept it at face-value as you say yourself above. You have also written elsewhere you are quite happy to accept hearsay evidence when there have been concerns expressed about the safety of children.
    Of course, we also know that even when parents contest matters in Court and the lawyers are fully aware the LA has acted unlawfully,hastily and traumatised a child , the lawyers and Judge will not only cover-up for them and excuse them but the authorities will promote them for their crimes. You say you would rather they act unlawfully with undue haste than act legitimately and check facts first. Does that sound right to you?
    I reject that attitude. It can’t be right.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I think if anyone has a genuine belief that a child is at risk of serious injury or death then they need to prioritise that child and act immediately. Too many children have died in too many horrible circumstances to suggest that we should all just sit back and fill in the paperwork before taking action.

      Of course that does not mean that in situations of lesser urgency people should be cavalier about their responsibilities and the need for proper evidence.

      however it is not always easy to draw the line, particularly when you are reacting to a situation of grave danger. I remain of the view that I, as a parent, would rather be subject to an investigation even if it turned out to be baseless, than my child – or ANY child – be allowed to die.

      I think the problem here is that you are simply resistant to accepting just how badly some parents treat their children. This, sadly, then often infects attitudes towards all parents which I agree is not right but I can understand how it happens.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        You are wrong about me ( again…).
        I am not resistant to the idea that some parents treat their children badly. It is obvious some abuse them and are cruel etc.
        Which is why the Public have instituted the Children Act and why I support it .
        It seems to me the Law should be upheld strictly especially the parts which specifically set out to curb extremism and authoritarianism,the traumatisation of children due to over-hasty removal and the rest.. Even the bad parents must be dealt with according to the law.
        Action taken should be according to facts not led by disproportionate fears.
        Children will then not be left to die nor will they be degraded for their parent’s shortcomings . They will be supported ,monitored and their parents will be retrained and controlled , given financial assistance and adequately housed etc. as the statute commands.
        Still you appear to advocate unlawfulness is acceptable when LA’s are the culprits. How can lawyers sanction the flouting of guidelines and safeguards which are put in place deliberately to protect children from institutional excesses and zealotry ?
        Obviously , there is a chasm between you and I here.
        Sarah, most parents are perfectly willing to go along with proportionate investigations and interventions. Most welcome and value support and help but surely they are entitled to be treated according to the law.

        Reply
  17. Angelo Granda

    I understand the temptation professionals face but they must control themselves ; they must rein themselves in and keep on the right side of the line already drawn by the Law.
    Legal professionals should think very carefully about their own conduct when LA staff break the boundaries. Usually , in practice, lawyers and others who cover-up for institutional malpractices and abuses commit a more serious crime than the original offenders.Especially those with the influence to stop it all ,e.g.Police,independent IRO’s and
    Guardians.
    Once the law is broken in any case, the professional cover-up entails justifying it hence cloud-cuckoo land evidence. The dishonesty gathers pace and takes over all control. Assessments become less and less impartial, narratives are invented , reports of others altered , any evidence supporting parents hidden and the course of justice perverted. All to justify malpractice and to account for themselves.

    Reply
  18. John n

    Reading the above discussion I do not agree with the point that hearsay is admissible as evidence. It would certainly raise objection during a deposition for example, just as claiming to know another person’s state of mind would.
    Indeed I rather feel the discussion concerning evidence is a bit of a red herring and I feel the real issue is the lower standard of proof required by the family court which is not commensurate with the seriousness of the matters it considers. Some people would consider being denied access to their child as being more serious sanction than jail time.
    Perhaps if the family court were to operate on the same ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ‘proven beyond all reasonable doubt’ as the criminal court, then matters would resolve?
    I agree Angelo with the above remarks about the situation needing action but I remain unconvinced that the people in a position to act to change the law, will do so quickly, or to be frank, that interminable discussion about it on the Web constitutes ‘action’ either! I also do not feel that the problem can so easily be laid at the feet of lawyers and how they work. I still feel that the problem likely lies within the acts of Parliament and should be rectified there.

    Perhaps the core underlying reason that change is not enacted, is that the pendulum of society has actually merely swung against the rights of men within a society that already does not treat the sexes equally and so bias is in all our collective blood.

    Of course, it could be argued that this is nothing new – after all men have been considered to be disposable for a long time when you think about it. 99 percent of recent war casualties are men despite women being deployed.
    If you are a man you are applauded as heroic if you die whilst protecting your family. Men happily work until advanced years or until they die (often actually at work) in order to support a wife and family. Men have a lower life expectancy but without a clear biological reason. Perhaps it’s because men universally do all the unpleasant jobs which build and maintain the world where we all live. Consider how few female Sewage workers, high rise building workers, refuse collectors, fire fighters there are. The number of deaths at work is overwhelmingly male. It’s not considered fair or manly behavior for a man to hit a woman or even fight back if attacked by one. It’s accepted that a man often pays money to his ex-wife in “spousal maintenance” – effectively to subsidise an able bodied human being who is capable of working.
    Moving back to the armed forces, It’s only relatively recently that women have been admitted to the front line in a few of the worlds armed forces and there was hardly a feminist-led patriotic rush to sign up. This is because feminism wisely cherry picks the privileges where equality is desired but does not care to equally shoulder the morr unpleasant burdens.

    Perhaps women through the ages have actually performed the ultimate in manipulation – It’s quite a feat to create a society with this level of imbalance whilst simultaneously appearing to be the victim and its therefore no surprise that commentators on the family court, are likely to be overwhelmingly disaffected men.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      It doesn’t matter whether you agree with it or not. Hearsay is admissible in civil proceedings in England and Wales. I suspect you are talking about the USA?

      With regard to women as the ‘favoured sex’ you are making the typical mistake of looking at this through one lens only – of a particular narrow slice of a culture in a particularly narrow slice of time. Women historically and around the world have been the sex that was oppressed by the other. I do not agree that men are now ‘oppressed’. I agree that poor people suffer more and do the work that others don’t want to do but this applies to women just as much as men.

      Reply
      1. John N

        Hi Sarah. Yes you’re correct. In the USA Hearsay is not admissible in civil court. It surprises me that it is, in the UK. That’s endearingly amateurish.

        In reply to your remark: ‘..making the typical mistake of looking at this through one lens…’ – I can see your point but frankly it’s not a strong argument. It is recognized that women historically have been oppressed and indeed still are in some areas in the world, but that is irrelevant when discussing the present situation in the west – which is the timeframe and location which we are discussing.

        In the west. the situation has actually clearly become ‘equality plus benefits’.
        Lets consider just a few sample statistics because I can’t be bothered to look up too many:

        Women
        Statutory Maternity Leave: 39 Weeks
        Iraq War % of Casualties: 2.25%
        2011 – 2015 US % of workplace fatalities: 7.5%

        Men
        Statutory Paternity Leave: 2 Weeks
        Iraq War % of Casualties: 97.75%
        2011 – 2015 US % of workplace fatalities: 92.5%

        Feminists are fond of referring to the ‘gender pay gap’. However, when one views the employment statistics, it is clear that the disparity is actually largely due to the types of jobs that both sexes are willing to take. The most dangerous professions such as roofing, pilots, logging are dominated by men. Low risk occupations such as administrative work, education and healthcare tend to be dominated by women. The conclusion we can draw from that is that men are far more willing to take on higher risk work for more pay.

        It is certainly not the case that women are unable to operate a nail-gun, an aircraft or a chainsaw. They just don’t want to and indeed for centuries haven’t needed to do, because men have pandered to the notion that women are poor helpless creatures who are simply unable to do it, and capably stepped in to fixe the roof and stop the rain coming in.
        This is nothing at all to do with rich versus poor – I feel that point is somewhat facile. I know a number of plumbers for example who are considerably better paid than a lawyer is. They happen to be men.

        This nonsense in my view has to stop, Equality means equality. I’ll personally be convinced that we are on the right track to have ‘equality’ when a woman cleans my windows, mends my roof, fixes my car, unblocks my sink, services my washing machine, installs my sky dish, installs my telephone or mends the road.

        If we move on to the number of wartime casualties, the number of female deaths in operation Iraqi freedom was disproportionately low compared to the number of women deployed. This cannot be easily explained apart from to assume that for whatever reason the women were deployed to less dangerous assignments. Likewise, the disparity in maternity/paternity pay period is hard to justify unless we fall back on the centuries old belief that mothers are simply more important to children than fathers are – which of course is the problem with attitudes in the family court.

        There is an interesting documentary on this topic called ‘The red pill’ which was actually produced by a self-proclaimed feminist. And it’s an interesting watch.

        References available on request.

        Hi Angelo
        Your ‘divide and conquer’ idea is an interesting one. As I grow older, I become more convinced that the political system, whether it be communism, democracy or whatever, is an effective tool to allow a self-ordained privileged minority to effectively enslave and control a much larger majority. I suppose this realization, and my experiences in the family court, have now lead me to the position where I regrettably view governments, the law and its judges with a degree of contempt. As an educated adult who once had a certain amount of respect for the law, that is sad. One has to wonder how widespread the sentiment is.

        Reply
        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          It is not ‘endearingly amateurish’. Being hearsay evidence does not deprive evidence of all relevance and value. It is clearly not as relevant or valuable as primary evidence but that does not mean it is simply ignored. A judge will determine its relevance and admissibility.

          As a single parent who has to carry out a number of the tasks you outline as indicative of men’s superiority and women’s inferiority, I think I can pass over your arguments without wasting too much of my time.

          Reply
          1. John n

            Sarah

            Nowhere did I mention superiority or inferiority. I was discussing equality. I’m sorry you seem somehow to have interpreted it that way. I am guessing you feel offended for some reason but that wasn’t my intent. One shouldn’t shy away from discussing ideas just because they are uncomfortable.

            One has to wonder, however, Sarah, how you expect people to engage with your blog when you seem only too willing to be rude and dismissive in your responses.
            You sometimes write quite charmingly but occasionally you have an arrogant manner that has a knack of upsetting people.

            Please allow someone with a long experience of global team management to give you a small tip.

            If someone takes the time to contact you with an idea or a discussion, then it’s not a good idea to make them feel like they are wasting your time if you want them to engage with you in the future.

            If you actually want your blog to be useful then I feel that you should be prepared to discuss ideas that you don’t agree with or find uncomfortable without being rude, at least it you want continued engagement.

            I think I’ll end this note here. I wouldn’t want to waste your time now. 🙂

            Best

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            My blog, my time, my choice. If you don’t like it, feel free not to engage. Your arguments I have read time and time again on various Mens Rights Fora. They are stale. They don’t interest me.

        2. Angelo Granda

          QUOTE: Feminists are fond of referring to the ‘gender pay gap’. However, when one views the employment statistics, it is clear that the disparity is actually largely due to the types of jobs that both sexes are willing to take: UNQUOTE.

          I agree that both sexes should be treated equal; there should be equal rights. However, the operative point is that employers ( the vast majority of whom are male) have historically and are still now in this day and age exploiting women for their own benefit. The one and only reason why women occupy many positions in the work market is because they work for less wages. Traditionally, once they become mothers ,women have been exploited mainly in part-time employment and have worked for pin-money. That is not fair and is not equality! It is not fair on the women themselves AND the other major implication of this pay gap is that many men are put out of work. They can’t compete with women in normal everyday jobs such as administration, shopwork, or in jobs which may be described as light work.
          Also , I am afraid to say that the predominantly male profiteers I have already mentioned are quite willing to compel mere women to take the place of men in heavy jobs such as box-lifting and shelf-loading in supermarkets and so on. Where a woman would have sent for a man to lift a heavy weight, they are now made to do it themselves. So women are ready for the knackers yard at an earlier age just as men used to be.
          The so-called equality women have achieved fairly recently is not all it is cracked up to be; it is false ideology spread by our overwhelmingly male industrial bosses and politicians.

          My advice to women who feel the need to work outside the home is that you set up your own companies with women only on the board and attack the gender pay gap from that direction. Try paying female employees the same as the male ones no more and no less and please don’t fall into the habit of exploiting workers ruthlessly as happens now. By that I mean, don’t start discriminating against men through their pay -packets.

          Reply
    2. Angelo Granda

      Thanks for your comments,John C.
      A very interesting point of view . As regards proportionality and the Family Court protocol not being commensurate with removal of children from natural family ,I agree with you. Readers should be aware that the ECHR provisions as to proportionality clarify what you say. It is not expected that an inferior civil court with a lesser standard of ‘proof’ should issue orders and endorse sanctions and/or punishments exceeding any available to a higher court e.g. the Crown Court.
      The precise solution to that is for the court executive to limit the Family Court’s powers to ordering family support plans thus disallowing removal. At the same time ,the problem families would probably be better supported were more proportionate orders added to the court’s powers.For example , the Family Court might be given the ability to order probation orders,asbos, tagging, anti-molestation orders , residential drug-rehabilitation plans and the like.
      I use the word precisely often when taking part in the endless discussion which we are all tired of. I feel the professionals should cut through all the blather ,concentrate on precise solutions and act decisively . I only make suggestions.
      Regarding the ‘balance of probabilities’ as against ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. To me, the problem is cloud-cuckoo land evidence , illegitimate aims leading to a complete lack of impartiality (objectivity) on the part of the authorities, unlawful removal, institutional sex-abuse of their children, unlawful exploitation and the failure to conduct cases correctly. People hate the Family Courts for that; they do not protest when evidence is fair and factual.The faulty evidence arguments are not a red herring ,in my view. The same problems arise when the course of justice is perverted in the criminal justice system.

      Regarding your comments about men and women. Interesting. I don’t really want to enter a discussion which is an absolute minefield! However, perhaps ( only perhaps) these perpetual debates about equality of the sexes, arguments between men and women and so on are part of an ultimate ‘divide and rule’ policy conducted by our rulers. No longer are they advocating the concept of ‘family units’ as they have done throughout the centuries. To get men and women arguing with one another makes it easier for the ruling classes to oppress us all.My suggestion to men is don’t waste your time arguing with women especially your wives/partners.You can’t win; they go on and on and will never give up.They don’t reason the same as you.
      Employment- Traditionally ,’men are for work’ not ‘work for men’. Men were supposed to support their families and women to be the homemakers. That has all changed and the ruling classes have benefited from it,not families. Now they have both sexes labouring away as wage-slaves.
      If I were to put myself into a woman’s shoes, here is my advice to women if they choose to work and make their own career. If you also want children, I would take advantage of the latest developments. Virgin birth is now possible and you don’t need to marry and live with a man if you don’t want to. Choose IVF or sperm donors.Surely that will end a lot of problems . Jesus Christ was the ‘son of man’ and he wasn’t married . He was born to a virgin and he was put on earth to be an example to us all. He never married either.
      I really, really don’t know what to make of all this debate as to gender equality etc.
      These are merely casual comments.

      Reply
  19. Angelo Granda

    Sarah, my apologies in advance if i disagree with you in any respect on the subject of men oppressing women and whilst I try not to join men versus women discussions in general, I just cannot resist pulling you up on one point.

    QUOTE :Women historically and around the world have been the sex that was oppressed by the other : UNQUOTE.

    Conversely, it is correct to say that historically around the world millions and millions ( in fact billions) of women have lived HAPPY,fulfilling and productive lives with husbands and children .These families for the last 2000 years in western societies at least have been based on monogamous relationships as prescribed and encouraged by the powers that be. I am sure sometimes some men have practiced oppression against their wives but I am equally certain some women have oppressed husbands. It will have been a two-way story where people are downtrodden by spouses.
    However,it is a fact that the vast majority of women have had no complaints so we should not look at the issue with that assumption.
    Is it not also true that both men and women, poor and comparatively prosperous have been oppressed by the ruling classes going back to the time of the ancient ‘civilisations’ ?

    I would also say that our rulers have been men and women. There have been almost as many despotic Queens, Empresses, as there has been Kings and Emperors. The same applies to Lords and Ladies of the Manor,Dukes and Duchesses etc. The nobility of both sexes profit from oppression and both are guilty.

    All of a sudden, in the past 80 years or so ,we are now being told that all women have been habitually oppressed by their husbands as a matter of normal course and that just is not true ! Most families have been happy ones.
    One wonders if there is a hidden agenda although we should not start dreaming up conspiracy theories,of course.
    Maybe a cost/benefit analysis would assist. Who profits from both men and women slaving away ? The taxpayers or those who live off them?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      The fact that Queen Elizabeth the First was a woman doesn’t really make up for the fact that well into the 20th Century my sex did not have the right to vote. Men who consistently want to re-frame the argument by denying the historical oppression and exploitation of women over centuries are wasting their time. lets accept reality. Women were more oppressed than men. That, happily has changed in (very) recent times with legislation that gives them full rights to participate in society along with men.

      Poor people of either sex of course continue to suffer and be exploited.

      Reply
  20. Angelo Granda

    I am not one of those who believe women should never have been granted the vote. On the contrary,I am all for equal rights so we agree on that one.
    Thanks for your point of view .

    Reply
  21. Angelo Granda

    I have to agree with you also,Sarah, that even considering strong women do occasionally oppress husbands, that men have mainly been the oppressors where it occurs. Obviously they are louder and much stronger and the problem dates back to the cavemen with their clubs and spears.
    Yet ,can we agree that due to moral teaching ( orthodox Christianity and puritanism) which developed as time went by during and after the industrial revolution, life improved to an extent and became much more civilised in western countries at least. Men began to show much more respect to women. For example, in working class circles bashing women reduced considerably, also it became less acceptable to employ them full-time in the mills. Part-time work became more the norm for wives etc. They had more time to care for there children ( employing children was outlawed).
    One problem I sense in this day and age is the lack of moral teaching and conditioning at an early age. Women are equal to men and as this has gradually become established , some men react wrongly and domestic violence has been triggered. There is no doubt it has increased substantially. This is why I have often said that one root problem to be addressed is the lack of moral teaching from an early age. The fundamental problem is not poverty in itself .
    Some readers may have seen one of the earliest comments I presumed to place on the CPR . I had carefully researched child-protection and dysfunctional families,d.v. and so on. Experts had identified another major root problem long before and it was the post-war dislocation of families. It was thought to be a major factor. This had occurred when communities were broken up with slum-clearance programmes . New towns and housing estates ,tower blocks sprang up all over the country but families were scattered all over the place. Whereas they used to live together ,next door or at least in the same street and they were able to mutually support each other this was no longer possible. Extended family units used to help one another with children, work together and look after the old and senile and used to gang together to do their best for disabled relatives ( and neighbours). The old and disabled were part of family life, they were not packed off into care-homes out of the way. Families also policed themselves more and put a stop to d.v. where it occurred within their own circles. Problems weren’t mainly put into the hands of the Local Authorities and the State. The NHS could be called upon but LA’s did not usually interfere.
    So constructively, as social dislocation was identified at least 70 years ago as one of the main root causes, can we approach it from that direction? Perhaps by housing families near to one another .I did not identify it,the experts did.Radical action is needed all round and less argument , debate etc. Can we give more thought to community life.
    All comments welcome.

    Reply
  22. Angelo Granda

    QUOTE: It is not ‘endearingly amateurish’. Being hearsay evidence does not deprive evidence of all relevance and value. It is clearly not as relevant or valuable as primary evidence but that does not mean it is simply ignored. A judge will determine its relevance and admissibility :UNQUOTE.

    My view, as an ordinary parent is this. A judicial system where hearsay evidence is admitted and one judge will determine its relevance is not amateurish. It does have a place but such methods are not commensurate with the Family Courts or indeed any court which is able to order family liquidation,contact orders,death sentences etc.
    Lawyers should never assume that ordinary citizens have no understanding of the law and our rights. We do ,we are taught about them at school ,college,university and in the workplace and we are mostly fully au fait with fairness and human rights.
    We actually make the law and we don’t need lawyers to lay it out to us.

    Such courts as described above are effective and commensurate with civil proceedings taken in cases like libel,commerce, property and inheritance,tax, business finance,patenting, town-planning and so on but even then hearsay evidence has to be examined meticulously ; it is never to be accepted by a court happily at face value. The courts which admit hearsay evidence do so on the understanding that it will be examined closely and it is understood that the process will take a great deal of time. A certain level of comity may be granted to the Inland Revenue and some other Government departments but not where it is disputed and certainly not when very long sentences or serious interventions with human rights are at issue. Such civil hearings can take weeks and months as a rule. All hearsay is checked,witnesses and the originators of hearsay opinion and reports are called and grilled one by one. Apart from a lot of time ( which we all know the family courts do not have) the other requirement is a great amount of money. Such proceedings are very expensive.
    The object is to establish real FACTS and to come to a fair and just decision based on the truth.
    The Courts must establish which evidence is true, which evidence is mistaken, which is irrelevant and which is just plain dishonest.
    Alas our Family Courts fail because they do not have the time, the resources and the ability to carry out that function. In my humble opinion.
    I think many lawyers are in denial that the family court system is ‘broken’ and unfit for purpose.
    Perhaps a bit of amateur advice might help them.How can you easily detect the difference between allegedly hasty, factitious, mistaken evidence and blatant dishonesty which amounts to perjury?
    Answer: Examine it all meticulously, establish the freely available FACTS.
    If the ‘mistakes’ of a particular party are all one way, he or she is dishonest.
    With LA’s if evidence is one-sided lawyers will not find one good thing said about respondents in their evidence not one!
    All comments welcome.Hope this helps.

    Reply
  23. John n

    “My blog, my time, my choice. If you don’t like it, feel free not to engage”

    Laugh. You’re just embarrassing yourself now. Please stop because it’s painful to see a grown woman behave like a child.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Nope. As a grown woman I make my own decisions and I certainly don’t take dictation from any person who choses to diminish me by deliberately patronising language such as ‘charming’. I try hard never to be charming. As I have already pointed out, this is my space, owned and paid for by me and I control it. I have no obligation moral or legal to provide you with a platform, so if you don’t like what I do – go away.

      Reply
      1. John N

        Sarah
        Frankly, it is abnormal to take pride in being rude.
        ‘Charming’ is not offensive. I have been called ‘charming’ many times in my life without feeling diminished.
        I suggest that you canvass the opinion of your friends – if you have any.
        I feel that you may greatly benefit from professional psychiatric help, but, I am certain that
        you will choose to continue to spend your free time being obnoxious to complete strangers on the internet.
        As requested I will now go away. I prefer to spend my limited time on this earth associating with pleasant and interesting people.
        Speaking to you, unfortunately has become the opposite.
        Good luck.

        Reply
        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          Odd isn’t it. you already posted one comment at 5.27 to tell me how rude I was and you were going away. I don’t see the need for you to post again at 5.34. I think we have both been tolerably clear with one another.

          Reply
  24. John N

    Sarah
    Frankly, your pride in your rudeness is abnormal.
    I have been called ‘charming’ many times in my life without being offended. I would suggest you canvass the opinion of your friends – if you have any.
    I feel that you may greatly benefit from professional psychiatric help, but, I am certain that
    you will choose to continue to spend your free time being obnoxious to complete strangers on the internet.
    As requested I will now go away. I prefer to spend my limited time on this earth associating with pleasant and interesting people.
    Speaking to you, unfortunately has become the opposite.
    Good luck.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Happily for me John, I do not depend on you nor any other person for validation. Thanks for stopping by, sorry this has been an unpleasant experience for you, but I am sure there are very many fora on the world wide web which will engage with and welcome your arguments.

      Reply
  25. Angelo Granda

    John n,
    If you are still with us, please will you bear the following in mind.
    In my opinion, you should not look upon the Child Protection Resource as Sarah’s personal blog. It is not; it is a website set up voluntarily and paid for by her. She is the moderator too, so every contributor must bear that in mind.

    It is a resource available to all; I also understand that all posts on the CPR are independent and that all who use the resource are welcome to submit one . Sarah, herself submits many but she does so as a lawyer. As such, her posts tend to look into issues with as much objectivity as she possibly can. She presents alternative points of view to her own and tries to balance all opinions.

    Readers, I am pretty sure that many of you show little interest in my comments and that will include Sarah. However, that does not stop me plugging away. She or anyone else are quite welcome to disagree with me, may criticise me and may not even bother reading anything beneath my name.
    If Sarah or any other readers aren’t interested, they are at liberty to say so. I will not consider it rude. I welcome discussion and will reply or step away as I choose. Sarah does not dictate to any commentator or post-writer ,she only moderates their comments where necessary.
    So , readers should not treat Sarah’s comments as the be-all and end all. Don’t take her comments or anyone else’s personally and certainly don’t carry on twittwitter type conversations and feuds on this resource especially not with her because she is the moderator here .
    John n, If Sarah passes over your comments without much interest and says so. Forget it and let it roll off. You aren’t addressing her blog, you are speaking to readers of the CPR in general. All comments stand alongside one another without prejudice and readers can decide for themselves. I found your views interesting until you took umbrage at Sarah’s lack of interest. She is allowed to express it .

    Hope this neutral comment of mine connects with readers.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I am very grateful for your continued interest in and support of the CPR blog Angelo. We disagree about many fundamental issues and often appear to have the same conversations repeatedly which I am sure causes us both some frustration but it does not mean I am not interested in your contributions.

      Yes, I have set up this resource in an attempt to benefit those who are involved in the child protection system and find it confusing. Some of the posts deal with general points of law, others are more contentious. However all remain part of a site that I run and pay for on my own time and money. So I will express myself as I please. I will only delete comments that are abusive or which reveal details about children. So I am happy for any reader to judge for themselves the worth or interest of any comment that remains here.

      Reply
  26. Angelo Granda

    To return to the subject of the post.
    I share Sarah’s chagrin that parts of her past background and personal history were put out onto the social media so disgracefully by the so-called legal partnership.It is obvious that she is the subject of a callous witch-hunt . This will have entailed going through a limited amount of background. One part of it has been chosen . Despite the fact that it was a very long time ago , the perpetrators of the witch-hunt have not put it into context and given a full,true account of Sarah’s background. This will be for the the purposes of prospective litigation. A genuine assessment ,of course, should include positives as well as negatives. I am sure most of Sarah’s past record is positive.

    Perhaps Sarah will now have more respect for parents who come on to this resource complaining of false,misleading and biased evidence presented to Family Courts by L.A.lawyers. They, too, conduct the same kind of witch-hunt and base assessments and decisions on them.It is unfair,it is not impartial . It is not done in the paramount interests of the children involved either. It is done for reasons of the L.A.litigation.Children’s interests call for honest background history not inquisitional witch-hunts and character assassination.

    Reply
  27. Angelo Granda

    Sarah, i don’t know if these questions are relevant but is it normal for the bar council to publish details of disciplinary hearings? Is it usually available only to fellow lawyers?
    Was the information leaked ? Or if it was accessed legally was it legitimate to publish it on the web?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      No, the BSB quite rightly make public disciplinary findings about barristers. It is important that the public know when a professional has fallen short of the standards required. Only then can the public make an informed choice about whether to engage with that professional in future.

      Reply
  28. Pingback: The woeful state of our debate; when facts just don’t matter anymore | Child Protection Resource

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