Calm Down Dear: Why I worry about John Hemming – and why you should too

For now too many years I have been ploughing what seemed like a very lonely furrow, trying to make people understand just what a dangerous and unhealthy influence John Hemming has had – and continues to have – on the nature of public debate and understanding about the child protection system. And consequently the damage he has done to a great many vulnerable people.

The weekend of May 15th 2016 however saw a welcome change. John Hemming managed to be so consistently and persistently wrong about something quite important that a large number of lawyers noticed and commented. John Hemming asserted that lawyers were on ‘effective retainers’ if they had ever acted for local authorities and that their Code of Conduct prevented this as a conflict of interest. It was explained at great length why this wasn’t so; see this post from Nearly Legal. For an entertaining summary of the weekend see this post from Hoaxtead Research.

Pink Tape blogger Lucy Reed also took the time to carefully explain why it did NOT mean a barrister was corrupt or ineffective if they from time to time accepted instructions from a local authority – on the contrary, this allowed the barrister to be more effective at making and running a case.

But as ever, Hemming wasn’t about to let some inconvenient facts get in the way of further promotion of his central agenda; that the family justice system is evil and those who work in it are corrupt. Despite contacting the Bar Standards Board and being told his interpretation of the rules was incorrect, he would not be daunted and was last spotted threatening to campaign for a change in the Bar’s Code of Conduct.

The consequences of any change to the rules which means barristers could not act for parents if they had ever acted for any local authority (or presumably they could not ever defend any criminal if they had once prosecuted another) would mean we would run out of available barristers very quickly. Maybe that is what he wants?

So why worry? A finger in every corrupt pie and consequent exploitation of the vulnerable

What was interesting however was the response from some. It was pointed out that it is ‘futile’ to engage with such as Hemming and that by pointing out this futility I was somehow encouraging him.

I wonder whether some more senior members of the legal profession just don’t understand:

  • the full nature and extent of his activities and
  • just what a game changer the internet has been to allow him to promote his agenda that family lawyers are inherently corrupt.

Whereas only 20 years ago conspiracy theorists were restricted to their lonely bedsits now they have access to professional tools that enable them to produce slick websites that can be seen all over the world. Anyone tempted to smile indulgently at the japery of John Hemming or think me a little odd and obsessive to keep on banging on about it, needs to understand that in every single nasty campaign against the family courts for at least the last 10 years, Hemming has been involved – either directly or by providing support to those who were.

I remain utterly baffled that his activities in supporting those such as Sabine McNeil and Ian Josephs appear to garner very little attention or censure. If you don’t know about the Hampstead Satanic Abuse Hoax, then I suggest you read this and consider the impact not only on the children in the case but the wider community, who have found themselves subject to many months of harassment and accusations from the world wide community of conspirators, alleging that they ate babies or wore their skin as shoes.

When MEPs came to London in November 2015 on a ‘fact finding’ mission to determine if the UK’s family justice system was really as abusive and corrupt as was claimed in a number of petitions (organised by Sabine McNeill) they spoke to some responsible people, such as the Co Chair of the Association of Lawyers for Children and the Family Rights Group. BUT they also took time to discuss issues with John Hemming and his lackey Julie Haines, one of the named ‘McKenzie Friends’ on his Justice For Families website – and what they charge or what he pays them, he won’t be clear about.

Ms Haines has told me that she brings hopeless appeals to the Court of Appeal in the full knowledge that they are hopeless but as a mechanism to show the higher courts just how unhappy people are with the system. Which is all very well and good, but as a campaigning tool to spread awareness it is not merely hugely expensive and a drain on the public purse, it is diverting the attention of our judiciary away from cases where appeals might actually have some merit, and must be at enormous emotional cost to a parent who is presumably unaware that their case is simply being used as an example of a corrupt system. Presumably that parent had some hopes when JFF took on their case; hopes which will soon be dashed.

John Hemming has directly contributed to and supports the continued debasement of our public discussion about matters of huge important to us all – how do we protect children? How do we support families? Certainly since the death of Peter Connelley we have been pushed into ever more extreme positions; from Hemming’s promotion of parents’ rights to the exclusion of any consideration of the child at one extreme, to the Government’s continued push for more adoptions more quickly at the other.

To an extent I suppose we have got what we deserved. As a society we seem uncomfortable with nuance in our debate, are unwilling to accept responsibility and to learn from mistakes, preferring instead the culture of ‘blame and shame’  – for every child beaten to death by his parents, we want another social worker’s head on a plate.

But this really, really matters. John Hemming is encouraging parents to distrust and fear lawyers and thus encouraging them to deprive themselves of our help when they really need it. And his reach isn’t just to the vulnerable and desperate parents – it’s extending now to children.

 

I will leave you with the conclusion of Nearly Legal. I agree. And I think you should too. I am really worried about John Hemming.

Why is this important? Why pay attention to the ramblings of a former MP whose credibility has been demolished by the Courts? Because a lot of desperate and unhappy people do pay attention to him. His advice, including recommending to parents fleeing abroad to frustrate care proceedings, has been acted upon by people. If Mr Hemming now suggests trying to challenge lawyers on the erroneous basis of conflict of interest, or worse, that people should consider a prospective lawyer to be tainted with conflict of interest if they have ever acted for the other side, he is damaging people’s interests, stupidly and unnecessarily.

 

EDIT December 2018

Hoaxstead Research are covering the trial of Sabine McNeil for the breach of her restraining order which attempted to stop her continued harassment of the parents in the Hampstead case. Read here Sabine’s own account of the support and encouragement given to her by Hemming in her battle against the secret family courts.

51 thoughts on “Calm Down Dear: Why I worry about John Hemming – and why you should too

  1. Angelo Granda

    A Parent’s View.

    Sarah. I fully appreciate your comments but i think you slightly over-estimate any influence John Hemming has on the majority of parents. Most don’t visit JFF until long after their cases are over and many haven’t even heard of him. He is free to make whatever beliefs he has known to the ECHR and other official bodies.
    Please would you help discussion by explaining how any potential ‘conflict of interests ‘ is regarded in the criminal system? I am probably mistaken but i believe the custom is that barristers tend to stick to one role. They are known as prosecuting counsel or as defence counsel,i think but i am only going on what i have read. I will welcome your explanation.

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    I have studied his activities carefully since 2011. I do not exaggerate the malign influence he has. Perhaps you could explain how you are able to speak for ‘most parents’? Those many thousands on various Facebook groups certainly know of him and are influenced by him.

    Barristers are independent. They can and do prosecute and defend, sometimes on the same day. This is not a conflict of interest, provided of course they are not privy to information about one case they only got by representing the other side in another.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      Sarah, you are right,i cannot really claim to speak for most parents only those with whom i have have had contact. Sorry ,i will qualify my comments more carefully in future. ‘One parents view’ would be a better title to my comments.

      The pervasive influence which the world-wide-web, facebook, twitter etc. is a relatively new problem of which i know little. The authorities and lawyers are unable to control discussion and suppress public opinion in quite the same way as previously. However, it is here to stay.

      I suggest it is more difficult for a barrister to balance his or her conflicting duties in family law cases when he or she has worked with and judged the honesty and competence of a SW colleague the previous day.
      It seems to me that the current situation may be acceptable in certain cases. The protocol is acceptable. But it is not suitable in more serious Public law cases opr criminal cases.

      What is the position of a barrister in criminal law? Do they tend to specialise in one area or not? Do they choose between life as a prosecutor or life as a defence lawyer as a general rule and stick to their chosen role?

      Reply
      1. YT

        Barristers themselves would probably be better answering this in detail.

        Barristers are mostly self employed and work on cases, not causes. The CPS prosecutes. There’s the can rank rule limiting why barristers should turn away work.

        I work in a government department that often gets it’s decisions taken to court. Not social services though. We have an in house legal department. We also hire barristers for bigger cases, and those cases may not even get to court if the barrister persuades us to concede or even the other side to withdraw. There are a few very very good barristers, that sometimes work for us, sometimes for the other side. The people who appear to only take work only from one side have variously been utterly wonderful, fiercely intelligent and committed barristers, or borderline corrupt who wouldn’t know impartiality and integrity if it promised to pay their fees, with all things inbetween.

        Imagine it like medicine, where there is a queue of people outside the door and the ethos of medicine being just work through the appointments. Would you ask your doctor to declare every patient ever encountered in case you were treated in a corrupt way? Cases not causes. Patients not treatments.

        My working life involves serious public law. I would recommend the fiercely intelligent specialist, and the barrister who takes cases from us and people bringing cases against us.

        I wonder whether Hemming would think he was a corrupt MP, in need of some severe parliamentary rules to protect his constituents. Imagine it, he votes a certain way about a government policy, but he represented each and every one of his constituents. What if, let’s say, he had a constituent who wanted something done, who came into his surgery, wanting a letter written about a problem, that he didn’t agree with. Was he corrupted and would he have automatically dealt with his constituent so vilely that there need to be parliamentary rules that meant he outlined his entire voting record to every constituent he took a case from? Because he cannot be trusted?

        John Hemming seems to me to be more wrong on this than he usually manages.

        His proposed solution is utterly wrongheaded and completely unworkable.

        Reply
  3. Sam

    Firstly I apologise if I have upset anyone, . I desperately want the child protection system to be fit for purpose and I am too idealistic. Just from my experience , like Angelo I did not find out about John Hemming until after my case. I have spoken to Ian Josephs on the phone and did not follow his advice. I am well aware that others may do so and may not be able to reason things out as well. To balance that he did not tell me to do anything illegal but it certainly would have bent the rules.
    I am very frustrated with what has happened in my case, particularly because if judgements and skeletons were published I would not seem so obsessive myself and I whole heartedly applaud the work the Transparency Project has done so far.

    Reply
  4. El Coyote

    You’ve touched on so many aspects of what makes Hemming dangerous.

    His organisation’s habit of pursuing unwinnable cases in court to ‘make a point’ is part of the modus operandi of people like Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie, who have used various families as campaigning devices over the years, with disastrous results. By their own admission they’ve never won a case, but they’re all too happy to use their ‘clients’ for all they’re worth in terms of gaining publicity for their own conspiraloon views (such as their idea that the country, in fact the world, is governed by a cult of baby-eating Satanists, for instance).

    Recently, McKenzie and McNeill were involved in a case involving court costs which they’d incurred on a client’s behalf during one of their futile campaigns; they won the case, which now raises the question of who will be stuck paying that bill.

    McKenzie and McNeill proudly proclaim that Hemming is their guru, and he’s been happy to lend his influence to helping them. I completely agree with Sarah that he is a malignant force in the area of family law; the more people who know this, the better.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      My problem is the long-running pre-occupation of Sarah and other professionals with what they call a lunatic fringe. If they are a lunatic fringe ,why worry about them or read their blogs. I don’t. I don’t know McKenzie or Mc Neil . If they are really fringe groups, what possible rel;evance have they got to general frontline practices. They must only represent a very small number of parents.
      Each case is different and the great majority of them have no association with these fringe groups.It is suspicious that you are so vehement in condemning them because at the same time you are diverting attention away from the real problems the cp system has. If you do that ,you are as loony as you say they are.
      YT , i appreciate your comments and you have a point about Public Law cases. For the sake of comparison, i am trying to establish what the norm is amongst Criminal LAW barristers. Have you any idea?

      Reply
        1. helensparkles

          ‘Cab-rank rule’ applies to all barristers. In its current form (Rule C29 of the Code of Conduct) it reads as follows:
          If you receive instructions from a professional client , and you are:
          -a self-employed barrister instructed by a professional client ;

          and the instructions are appropriate taking into account the experience, seniority and field of practice of yourself … you must, subject to Rule C30 below, accept the instructions addressed specifically to you, irrespective of:

          – the identity of the client;
          – the nature of the case to which the instructions relate;
          – whether the client is paying privately or is publicly funded; and
          -any belief or opinion which you may have formed as to the character, reputation, cause, conduct, guilt or innocence of the client .

          Reply
          1. Angelo Granda

            Sarah, Have you the time to dispel the myth that ‘cab rank ‘ rules apply to Family Law ?
            Don’t forget parents know what they are talking about,Helen ,because we’ve been there.
            Solicitors choose barristers for families as a general rule indeed they sometimes will instruct a respondent that should they not accept the one they have chosen, they must seek representation from another solicitor.
            Sometimes parents can request a particular barrister ( perhaps they have represented them before).
            The same goes for LA’s , they pick and choose their lawyers.

            I believe it is correct to say that the ‘cab rank’ rule applies to criminal law and it is felt to be fundamental to fairness and justice.

            This is more argument in favour of hearing serious Public law family cases either in a higher court or a radically improved family court system.

          2. Angelo Granda

            May i add that parents have to choose a solicitor who is a member of the Children’s Legal Panel. So ,they cannot actually choose their own family solicitor.

          3. helensparkles

            Parents could choose their family solicitor if they have one, & I’ve known that to happen, but the solicitor’s obligation is to work within their field of expertise.

          4. Angelo Granda

            Yes ,i agree Helen. In practice parents are forced to opt for a C.L. Panel solicitor.For some reason, ordinary family law solicitors experienced in every other area of speciality ( e.g. education,medical) do not count themselves capable of dealing with CP proceedings. Strange but true.

          5. helensparkles

            People’s family solicitors are used for various reasons, some could be for commercial law for example, for people with their own business. “In practice parents are forced to opt for a C.L. Panel solicitor.”; I would say that those are the experts in their field, it would be foolish to do otherwise? I would not want someone with an expertise in patent law for example representing me in care proceedings or vice versa.

          6. Angelo Granda

            I would strongly advise you not to Helen. Take it from me ,they have a ‘cosy relationship’ with the LA. They are not corrupt but there are all sorts of reasons why you should get another if you can. I could suggest you should try and get a specialist civil rights lawyer who will ensure correct process is followed ,a fair trial etc.but you will find they will not involve themselves against the cp system either.
            Children’s Legal Panel members have a conflict of interest,in my opinion . I doubt if you will take my advice,but there it is.

          7. Angelo Granda

            I am referring to CLP solicitors not barristers,Helen.I have seen that link before about barristers and i agree with the writer . The only ‘conflict’ they have is the one between the duties they have to their client,the children AND the Court . It can be difficult to balance all three which i understand completely. It may not always work out for parent respondents but that is the protocol ,apparently.
            I would never accuse barristers of corruption, I would never accuse them of a lack of impartiality. I would never accuse them for fionding it difficult to balance their conflicting duties;it is inevitable.
            I think the correct word to use would be timid. Because of their duty to the Court ,they are too timid to question the Judge. Because of their duty to the children,they are too timid to ask decisive questions of the LA and the Guardian.
            Likewise ,i suggest the Court system is not corrupt, nor the judiciary ; they are just too timid to enforce the law when it challenges the Government and the LA’s.
            Well,some are anyway.

          8. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Dear Angelo

            Do please come and shadow me in court and then you will gain more of an accurate impression of my ‘timidity’.

            When I do not speak up and ‘challenge’ a Judge it is because to do so would be bloody stupid and not advance my client’s case one iota. When I do speak up and challenge a Judge it is because it is necessary. ‘Timidity’ never comes into the decision whether to challenge or not at ANY stage of the decision making process.

            ‘Timid’ people don’t last very long at the Bar, in the unlikely event they seek to qualify as barristers in the first place. It is emphatically NOT a valuable attribute on our list of skills.

          9. helensparkles

            Sorry, my mistake, you did say solicitors. I was jut getting confused because most LAs have their own legal teams, therefore solicitors from other firms don’t act for the LA and parents, they just act for parents.

          10. Angelo Granda

            I don’t like this sort of quibbling and i don’t think Sarah does. I like to agree with you when i can.
            However,i think you are mistaken about that ,Helen .In fact I know that parents solicitors can represent the LA contemporaneously. Even simultaneously ,in fact. One solicitor was in and out of one case where she was representing the LA and another where acting for a client against them.

          11. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Yes, but these (presumably) were two completely different cases? What is the problem? Are you saying that if Bristol City Council have instructed me in one case I can never, ever represent a parent AGAINST Bristol City Council, at any time? Why?

          12. helensparkles

            I’m not particularly invested in right or wrong; I don’t actually know how many LAs currently have their own legal teams as there have been changes following cuts. They are closing, reducing, reorganizing, outsourcing, mutualizing and privatizing. Generally most LAs are looking to share services leading to economies of scale. Some of those options do mean that a solicitor could act for the LA or parents, I was commenting on my experience (having worked with most LAs in the country as part of a project team) and as far as I was aware, most still had in house legal who don’t represent parents. I am sure someone will know. I don’t have an issue with a solicitor representing both parties personally, just as I don’t barristers. I think I might need some help with where making comments and having a discussion becomes quibbling?

          13. Angelo Granda

            Sarah,i am not referring to you or any other barrister. Barristers can represent who they want whenever they want to ; as far as i am concerned they are highly trained to be completely impartial , they have a very high standard of ethics and they police one another and are made accountable when necessary and they have no profit motive. Please read what i write and don’t read criticism when it isn’t there.
            I am referring to solicitors.I shall not repeat it here but you can go to the Human Rights thread if you like on this forum and i have gone into great detail and given several ways in which parents feel they operate a level of bias towards local authorities when discussing Article 6.
            To return to my original question ,am i wrong to say it is a myth that the cab-rank rule operates in the Family Courts or not?

          14. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Yes you are wrong. The cab rank rule is an important part of all barristers’ ethical responsibilities for the reasons I have outlined.

          15. helensparkles

            Lucy’s blog covered the cab rank rule which is partly why I posted you the link “Most family barristers are self employed, and all those self employed barristers act according to the “Cab Rank Rule” which says they must accept all briefs offered, however unattractive (there are limited exceptions which I don’t need to go into here). This is to protect the vulnerable and those with unattractive or superficially weak cases, and those whose cases are financially unappealing. The rule ensures two things : firstly that everyone who needs it has competent legal representation and secondly (this is more of a positive side effect) it ensures that a barrister representing a party has rounded experience of the sort of dispute in question, from all angles.”

          16. Angelo Granda

            Sarah, i am trying to be as polite as i possibly can to barristers as i do respect you. As regards some others are concerned i used the word timid and i meant it. I will not withdraw it .
            Mind you, they talk a good game out of court and promise a big effort at the final hearing. It never materialises and they just seem to roll over. There are all sorts of reasons for it ,i think. Perhaps they lack ability and are unable to understand that false evidence in applications made under oath, , false statements under oath, and failure to follow procedures can cause injustice but they certainly don’t bother tackling the Judge about it. These judges are short of time and they usually warn counsel to keep their arguments short. Apparently protocol directs that one should not question a Guardian’s evidence .I have a letter from a solicitor saying so.
            Maybe that is why barristers are timid ( or soft may be a nicer word) when questioning guardians. They may not even bother at all.Perhaps they know the Judge and know he is likely to turn round and discount all arguments because it is in the paramount interests of the child.Who knows? Like you say they don’t bother because they don’t think it will help one iota!
            If you will forgive me for saying so ,Sarah, I think you are quite wrong to take the attitude that it won’t help. It will help your client. Parents want all questions asked and answered and they want it done in the open.They don’t want it done in the Judge’s chamber or in discussions with the opposition barristers .They don’t want you to come to conclusions beforehand and leave questions unanswered nor do they want you to refrain from making protests because of time considerations or your duty to the Court. Why ? Because they are responding to a PUBLIC law case and they want everything out in Public.Not only that,in a Family Court hearing held in private, their statements and arguments are meant for the Public not for the Judge nor for the barristers nor the other CP professionals. The parents make Public statements which will be recorded in Public archives which are kept for posterity. In a hundred or two hundred years time,they don’t want students looking through the archives and reading all the false evidence and outlandish condemnations about their parenting and characters.They want everything in the archives.They want future generations to see the truth and know exactly why the CP system is shabby and inhuman and why the lack of fair process caused injustice etc. etc.
            I expect you haven’t thought about that before.
            Also the word timid applies to the Court, as i said before. It is too timid to enforce the Government and LA’s to follow the Law.

        2. helensparkles

          I think you misunderstand the cab rank rule, it means that a barrister can’t turn down the brief.

          Reply
          1. Angelo Granda

            Thanks for correcting me ,Helen. I did misunderstand it obviously. It must be something of a misnomer when used in the legal sense .
            In the cab business, the rule means that the client has to go to the first cab on the rank. The driver is permitted to refuse the job if he likes. If he does ,the passenger must go to the second one in line etc.

          2. helensparkles

            The driver isn’t permitted to turn down the job, this is the rule of black cabs/hansom cabs so may be archaic in the days of uber. Hence it being applied to a barrister, even if they don’t want to go south of the river, they have to.

          3. Angelo Granda

            Well, i shall bow to your expertise,Helen .Although, in our area and in the area where i have relations who work in the cab business ( currently), they can turn down any job they like if they don’t want to do it for good reasons of their own ( which they do not have to explain).Then the second driver in the rank is approached and so on. Perhaps ,Sarah will comment.
            As i said before,thanks for correcting my misunderstanding.

          4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            the ‘cab rank’ rule as it applies to barristers means that we must accept the instructions of anyone who asks us, provided the area of law is one in which we are competent and we have time in our diaries.
            Because we are supposed to be independent and fearless and thus cannot say ‘I don’t want to act for you because I don’t like men, gay people, black people, Christians, Muslims etc, etc’ . We represent anyone without fear or favour.
            Without the cab rank rule it might be difficult I suspect for notorious criminals to find legal representation.

          5. helensparkles

            it’s an old rule, it may be that nobody in the cab world observes it tbh, but that is the way it is applied to counsel as in the regs.

          6. Angelo Granda

            Sarah,Despite this ‘cab rank’ rule ,please can you accept that ,regardless of your feelings or mine,Public trust in the system is our target? The issue of impartiality and conflict of interests ,bias etc. is continually called into question by the Public .
            The issue is a fundamental one. Do the rules need changing?
            Some points and questions:-
            1. If a barrister were not to ask questions and raise the protests of a client because he had already passed his own judgment on the evidence and decided it will not make any difference, the respondent might reasonably suspect the outcome of his case was predetermined by professionals before it went into court. Result,mistrust.
            2. If all questions and protests are not raised and answered in full and/or not fully recorded , how can a respondent possibly fully consider an appeal or fully inform an Appeal Court? Sarah, you often ask yourself in apparent cases of injustice, ‘ Where were your lawyers’? Maybe they have kept quiet in the belief it won’t make an iota of difference to the outcome. Result,mistrust.
            3. I think the so-called cab rank rule is reasonable in normal civil law. A barrister can be completely independent and impartial and can represent different clients on the same day etc.etc. However,Sarah, I ask you have you considered that when one is dealing with Public Law family cases, the Public might require some extra protection.When you have one Public Authority,the judiciary ( including barristers) working with another,the Local Authority on a regular basis and when the latter win 93% of the cases ,it isn’t a good sign. When a barrister represents an LA , the relationship is potentially insidious more so than any private law case. Result ,mistrust.
            4. Correct me if i am wrong , but my belief is that in SERIOUS criminal cases ( for example,murder) even when we bear in mind the cab-rank rule, a defendant would not usually expect to have a Public prosecutor defending him? There are other barristers who specialise in defending the accused and the CPS will not ask them to prosecute a case. There will either be a conflict of interest or a ‘specialism’problem which we should bear in mind.

            All comments welcome,especially constructive suggestions.

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        I have explained – at length and repeatedly – why we need to worry about them.
        they are undoubtedly lunatics but they have a surprisingly long reach and influence.
        If you do not agree with me about that – in the face of the clear evidence I advance, so be it.
        Your are entitled to ignore evidence if you wish.
        But please don’t complain that I do not and will not.

        I am not a criminal barrister so can’t speak for them. However, a large number of angry criminal barristers were on Twitter over the weekend pointing out to John Hemming that they do indeed prosecute and defend – sometimes on the same day. If you are interested in the criminal bar, this is a good blog https://jaimerhblog.wordpress.com

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          I do not ignore the evidence.
          When it is said McKenzie and McNiell have attached themselves to John Hemming, that he is their ‘guru’ and that he ‘lends them his influence to help them, Coyote, are you saying he is involved actively in their madcap schemes and that he helps them bring their futile court cases. Or are they leeching upon his reputation and unfairly blackening his name? Is he as mad as they appear to be?
          How did he treat his wife badly and what effect would that have on his ‘conflict of interest’ theory!
          I really cannot support anyone who will support criminal activity or vile internet trolling and false allegations.No-one would but many parents have alleged that their lawyers appear to have a conflict of interests and they don’t get a fair hearing in the family court. Naturally,lawyers will oppose it but it isn’t an outlandish allegation,is it?

          Reply
          1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Until Jan 2015 John Hemming was patron of the organisation run by McNeill and McKenzie ‘the Association of McKenzie Friends’. I have found clear evidence that he was working with or alongside them at least from 2011 so he should well know what they are up to.

            They have been active in every dangerous, time and money wasting efforts to prove a conspiracy exists – Hollie Grieg, Vicky Haig, Melissa Laird, the Musas, the Hampstead Hoax. Hemming jumped ship when he realised that what they were doing in the Hampstead Hoax case (publishing videos of identifiable children talking about sexual abuse for the delectation of paedophiles, breaching High Court injunctions and harassing local people) was likely to bring forth criminal sanctions. They have set up fake ‘charities’ which some suspect have been used to funnel money to Iranian terrorists. Certainly money was solicited to be sent to McNeill in Germany after she had to flee the UK in fear of arrest.

            Meanwhile, Sabine McNeill was petitioning the European Parliament about our ‘abusive’ system and they take her seriously.
            Madness.

            ‘How you do something is how you do everything’ is my view. Politicians who treat their loved ones with contempt and disdain by frequent sexual infidelities and fathering children all over the place – another example is Boris Johnson – do not get my respect. That their private lives are so poorly managed, and their respect for others so clearly low, must impact on their integrity in all areas of their live.

            It is utterly outlandish to say that I do not give my parent clients the best of my ability because I am on ‘retainer’ to local authorities. Yet that is what Hemming keeps saying.

      2. helensparkles

        I’d be wary of underestimating the importance of Hemming, Joseph and their ilk/associates. Prior to the conference last year, they were the loudest voices I’d heard talking about the CP system not being fit for purpose. For example, I would hazard that most SW’s view of those who oppose “forced adoption” is shaped by that voice. Obviously here have always been SW critiques of adoption and there is a BASW enquiry into adoption now, but in terms of hearing the voices of families, that is significant. Hemmings has a profile because he was an MP and writes for the telegraph, Joseph has been in TV documentaries that are no better than a tabloid exploration of the issues. Those people are visible and they are loud, parents align themselves with them, and that makes it easy to align parents with them doesn’t it. That’s a risk I’d prefer not to exist.

        Reply
  5. Angelo Granda

    I accept your fears about these people are real and i understand they are marginalised especially on this resource. I choose to visit this resource because of its moderation . I choose not to visit extreme websites for the lack of it.
    Why not leave them in the margin and stop visiting them in it .
    SW’s should not allow extreme groups to shape their thoughts.
    Some parents align with them but some do not.
    My views on forced adoption and on whether the system is fit for purpose were formed long before they came along. Many ,many citizens have aligned themselves in opposition to forced adoption since the 1930,s ,1940’s and 1950’s.
    So did Sw’s and the Government in office in that era.
    Be wary of extremist groups but do not give them the oxygen of publicity on this resource if you are so fiercely opposed to them. You should certainly not seek to discount the protests of moderates by aligning them with extremist groups particularly those who express themselves here.

    Reply
    1. HelenSparkles

      Angelo, those voices are heard SW because they are in the press and on TV, they hijack the airwaves and drown out other voices very successfully. Should and shouldn’t are not applicable, they just do.

      Reply
    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT IN THE MARGINS. THEY ARE IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. THEY ARE SENDING MPS TO THIS COUNTRY TO INVESTIGATE OUR PRACTICES.

      Sorry for shouting but it is immensely frustrating that you seem to keep missing this rather obvious point.

      Reply
  6. Angelo Granda

    Mind you, Sarah ,you would be right to say that as this post was all about John Hemming and you have every right to put your views ,i am at fault for commenting on it if i am not interested in him. I shall keep my thoughts to myself abouit him.

    Reply
  7. Nick Langford

    I absolutely endorse your views, Sarah, of John Hemming, Ian Josephs, Christopher Booker, Sabine McNeill, Belinda McKenzie, et al, and have long believed that they do great damage to any moderate campaign for reform of the family justice system. But are they not products of that system?

    Reply
  8. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    Of course they are.
    They are the inevitable consequence of a system that is not fit for purpose and which does not encourage or even permit transparency.

    It is no part of my argument to say that these people have simply sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus or similar.

    The deeply unsatisfactory aspects of a lot of the family law system have provided a fertile mulch in which they thrive.

    But if it wasn’t the family court system, these people would have found another group of vulnerable and desperate people to latch on to.

    I think they are more like mould spores. They find somewhere damp and they proliferate, causing enormous damage to health and the structure of buildings. They need to be eradicated – but of course the building must be constructed in such a way that mould can’t take hold.

    That is why I am attempting to promote actual changes to the system. We will be discussing them at #CPConf2016. If you can’t come, I hope you will follow our tweets.

    Reply
  9. rebecca gaffney

    Sarah Phillimore i wonder how you have such opinions and work for or blog for the transparancy project as you are an LA barrister and that surely leaves people in a very vulnerable position listening to your opinions as any parent knows it takes a special kind of person to work for such a racquet as the Local Authority.In my long and ludicrous dealings with the LA i can truly say they are the most corrupt organisation in the UK and as are child services throughout the world ours however seems to take the crown.John Hemmings and the Haines team are actually there to help and it does not matter on your opinion at all of him as he soldiers on and maybe not every case wins but many do.The real lunacy lies in my view with the fact an LA barrister as i said already can use there name and the word transparancy in the same article. John Hemming i am sure will again be elected but at least if he isnt there will still be some parents that will benefit from the selfless work of the haines and John Hemming and that is something to be proud of in this awful system.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Rebecca – I am not a ‘LA barrister’. I am a barrister who has represented parents and children in care proceedings.
      I don’t agree with your views. I have provided clear evidence of the damage that Hemming and the Haines have done and continue to do.
      I can’t make you agree with me. All I can ask is that you look at the evidence I provide with an open mind.
      You don’t seem able or willing to do that, so you will understand why I don’t find your views very persuasive.

      Reply
  10. Pingback: John Hemming on adoption targets – guest post | The Transparency Project

  11. Pete McMurdie

    The biggest problem in the family law system is clearly the constant demonisation of men in child arrangement cases. I’ve looked at an awful lot of cases that have been nothing more than a witch hunt in a kangaroo court. The longer a child is left with an abusive mother, the more money the lawyers make and the more extreme feminists (Cafcass) get to abuse men. It’s farcical to include the word ‘justice’ when referring to a system where the whole system is operating illegally. As for John Hemming I am unable to scrutinise his causes beyond that he says, corruption is rife in the family law industry, that much I know to be true as I have witnessed it. In a secret court with no transparency, no accountability and no repercussions of illegal behaviour they can do whatever they like to suit their own agendas. Those agendas range from the need to abuse of men to financial profiteering. Family Law is a multi billion pound industry that has little to do with child protection. Until we take out the profit and the political motives it will remain corrupt and secretive. It’s time for change, time to stop the war on dads, and that will genuinely be in the best interests of children.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      you will have to explain to me why private law cases involve profiteering. I can just about understand the arguments about privately owned companies organising children’s homes or foster care etc, but I just don’t understand what this ‘multi billion pound’ industry is around parents arguing about their children in private law cases. Just who is making the money here? It’s not me as a legal aid lawyer as legal aid is rarely available in these cases.

      Reply
  12. TC

    Breaking News 14 Dec 2018
    Sabine found guilty on all four stalking charges, plus six restraining order breaches. More information to follow shortly.
    I warned people since about 2015 that Sabine and Belinda are dangerous and do nothing to advance the discussion and debate regarding Child Protection. I was branded a nutter by JH,, IJ and a few of their merry band of conspiracy theorists……

    I am not smiling or laughing; indeed, all I can do is think about how much of the public purse and the distraction techniques has been wasted to stop the real discussion.

    Reply

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