The woeful state of our debate Part VI: 8 questions to ask family judges.

On November 24th I attended the 9th Annual Family Justice Council debate at the Strand Palace Hotel in London. You can read more about the debate and the work of the FJC at this post on the Transparency Project.

To my surprise, I found Ian Josephs himself in attendance; he took the floor to deliver a speech which had a strangely familiar ring – he seems to repeat the same things over and over again on various blogs. Also, on every chair was a piece of A4 paper which set out ‘Eight Questions to Ask Family Court Judges’ which I assume was also the work of Mr Josephs as it is set out on his website.

But I thought it was worth deconstructing here – to remedy a little the deep unease I felt at seeing Mr Josephs take to the floor in the way he did; without challenge or rebuttal (I did not think it would be appropriate to intervene, given my likely inability to remain composed and polite). Its all very well people saying he is a harmless buffoon – but people do listen to him and worse, they sometimes take his advice. And as his actions with regard to Marie Black show, he isn’t harmless, not by a long chalk.

We have to tread a fine line between heavy handed censorship and giving dangerous people a platform. I felt his presence and his contributions to the FJC debate stepped over that line into giving him a degree of respect and credibility I do not remotely think he deserves.

But judge for yourselves. Here are his ‘8 questions’ and my responses.

1. Great Britain is the only country in the world where substantial numbers of pregnant women seek asylum in other countries to have their babies SAFE from UK social services and forced adoption.  Yes British mothers are fleeing the country in ever increasing numbers to avoid the adoption of their unborn babies. Surely this shows that something is very badly wrong?

The immediate problem with this is that it is strong on rhetoric, weak on substance. There is a network of people helping ‘mums on the run’ ; Josephs himself claims to have helped about 200 families over an undisclosed period of time while Brian Rothery alleged in 2014 that 1 family arrived in Ireland ‘every week’.

But the problem is, as Josephs has enthusiastically confirmed on this blog, he doesn’t carry out any risk assessments or keep any records. So where is he getting the information to support this very clear assertion that ‘substantial’ numbers of women are fleeing and that these numbers are ‘ever increasing’ ?

Nor is it true that ‘Great Britain’ is the ‘only’ country ‘in the world’ where pregnant women leave the country to avoid the authorities. I can’t comment on his use of the word ‘substantial’ as he doesn’t even attempt to define it. For example, the Nordic Committee on Human Rights (whose President Ruby Harold Claesson appears to associate closely with John Hemming, Ian Josephs and Sabine McNeill) claimed in 2012 that 

Since the beginning of the 1980’s, a great number of families have fled from Sweden in order to protect their children from being taken into care and placed in foster homes.

Yes, it does show something is very badly wrong if pregnant and desperate women are choosing to leave their  homes, their families and their support networks with the assistance of cash from Josephs. But what is wrong is that vulnerable people are being so poorly advised; it is notable that Josephs never appears to talk about what happens when it goes wrong – how Ireland, for example, certainly does not see itself as offering a ‘safe haven’ to those escaping a brutal and repressive regime and will co-operate with the UK authorities to return children. 

2. Adoption without consent is a last resort when nothing else will do say the legal guidelines but this cannot be true, since many other countries such as France manage to find other ‘resorts’ and thus never need to use this so called last resort, so why cannot the UK adopt the same remedies as the French for example?

It is a reasonable point that severing the legal ties between child and parent is something that England and Wales seem keener on doing than do other European countries – see paragraph 72 of this report for the Council of Europe in March 2015. But what are these other ‘remedies’ used by the French? It seems that other countries do not keep the same kind of data that we do about the number of children who are not living with their parents. But certainly every European country permits adoption; abusive parents are a universal phenomenon. It seems that other European countries make more use of long term foster care than we do – but this doesn’t necessarily mean that children remain in contact with their parents or that the parents can enjoy any meaningful exercise of their parental responsibilities.

Ian Josephs doesn’t seem to know what other ‘remedies’ or ‘resorts’ other countries use; to be fair to him, that isn’t widely circulated knowledge. Hopefully comparative lawyers such as Dr Claire Fenton-Glynn can undertake further research so we can better understand what other countries do and why they do it.  Ironically, it seems that Ireland may reform its historically restrictive adoption laws in order to increase the numbers of children adopted from foster care.

3. The President of the family courts in re J (a Child) said that since the abolition of capital punishment the most drastic decision any judge could make was to take its child from its parents. If a sane mother with no criminal record has her new born baby removed for ‘risk of emotional abuse’ she is punished without her breaking any laws. Surely punishment without crime is as illogical as it is wrong?

The problem with this is that Ian Josephs continually frames care proceedings and the removal of children as ‘punishing’ parents, when the aim of such proceedings is to protect children. Thus this question is inapt. I understand and accept that to many parents the loss of their children is a devastating emotional blow, but that doesn’t make it a ‘punishment’ inflicted by the state.  That is why new born babies can lawfully be removed. It is not to ‘punish’ the mother but to protect that baby. The law recognises that this is an exceptionally serious course of action and is only lawful if there is a serious risk to the child based on established history, such as drug abuse or persistent cruelty/neglect by the parents of their elder children.

‘Punishment without crime’ is one of his favourite catchphrases but its meaningless in this debate.

4. Many babies and young children are taken at birth for eventual adoption from mothers diagnosed with ‘borderline personalities’ and similar mental failings by court appointed experts. Unlike defendants in criminal courts parents in family courts are not allowed to get a second opinion from a private medical source to call as their witness without permission from the judge. Surely that is a violation of Article 6 (Human Rights Act) giving persons appearing in court the right to call witnesses in determination of their civil rights?

I don’t know what is meant by ‘many’ babies and young children taken because their mother has borderline personality disorder – which is a serious mental health issue. That isn’t my experience in practice. I don’t know what information or statistics he has to allow him to state this.

What does he mean by ‘court appointed experts’ ? Yes, the court must permit the instruction of the expert but the expert must be instructed and agreed by ALL the parties, including the parents. Reference to Article 6 of the ‘Human Rights Act’ is telling – he means Article 6 of the ECHR. Does he actually understand what he is referring to?

If not being allowed a second expert is indeed a breach of Article 6 of the ECHR then it is odd that there has been no successful challenge to section 13 of the Children And Families Act 2014 which makes it very clear that the courts will now be reluctant to permit even one expert, let alone two.

5. Research has shown that Open Adoptions have better results for children then closed adoptions used in the UK that break all contact with birth families. If parents were promised at least one annual contact by court order (birthdays or Xmas perhaps?) thus avoiding the heartbreak of no contact at all (letter box being remote and seldom continued) many parents would not go through the agony of contested hearings so would not this be a good thing?

I agree that we need more research and more open minded thinking about adoption and contact – which I have discussed previously here. I don’t know what research he is talking about. Certainly continued contact with birth families who cannot support the adoptive placement or actively attempt to undermine it, is not a positive experience for anyone. Sadly, the reason why so many adoptive parents and social workers are wary of continued direct contact with birth families may well stem from the kind of advice Ian Josephs gives to birth parents, see for example the first of his ‘Golden Rules’ :

IGNORE SOCIAL WORKERS!! They have NO authority .Don’t talk to them ,never go to their meetings (You will be outnumbered by at least five or six to one and bullied accordingly),never obey them,never never believe what they say,never sign any documents they give you, never allow them in your house(but if they then call the police let the police in but not the social workers),never let them assess you, or send you to the psychobabble charlatans !They are paid to diagnose nearly every parent who is sent to them with non existent illnesses such as borderline personality disorders or narcissistic traits = you don’t like or admire social workers !Many of them really are “the scum of the earth!”and deserve to be locked up for perjury and corruption!

And is it a serious suggestion, that parents will be ‘happy’ with the promise of one direct contact a year and will not then contest the care proceedings? This is an extremely odd belief for Mr Josephs to hold, given that he appears to dedicate most of his website into urging parents to simply refuse to co-operate in any way at all with social workers. His mindset is that removal of children is not justified unless the parents have committed a criminal offence so why should any parent who is not convicted in a criminal court give up their right to care for their child in exchange for one direct contact a year? This suggestion makes no sense.

6. Many babies are taken at birth for ‘risk of emotional abuse’. Something unique in Europe and impossible for parents to defend against court experts who are usually judged more likely on probabilities to be correct than a distraught mother. When adoption follows due to risks that may never happen (from an ex partner who was violent for example) surely these at least are cases where forced adoptions should simply not be allowed?

I don’t know how many babies are taken for ‘risk of emotional abuse’. In my experience at least this is rare. Cases where new borns are removed usually involve serious and long standing issues around drugs, violence and/or mental health difficulties, often the mother has had other children removed who did actually suffer harm.  Again, the reference to ‘court experts’ – there is no such thing.

I note also the trivialising of the violent ex – a repeated refrain in the comments of Mr Josephs. He has little understanding or patience with any suggestion that a women who choses a violent partner may do so out of her own problems with low self esteem or co-dependency and may go on to chose other violent men in the future ,unless she can get some help to break the cycle (for example via the Freedom Programme). Violent men are a massive risk to children.

One of the most unpleasant and uncomfortable parts of the FJC debate for me was when Ian Josephs got a big laugh from the room when he suggested that no Italians would have their children under the UK’s approach to domestic violence. This was offensive and unreal. The problem with violent partners is not simply a bit of excitable shouting as per some offensive Italian racial stereotype. The impact of exposing children to violence is real and serious and Ian Josephs continually shows that he just doesn’t understand.

7. Article 10 (Human Rights Act) reinforces our democratic right to free speech. Surely it is a gross violation to gag mothers whose children have been taken (for possible adoption) by preventing them under threat of jail from identifying themselves and their children when protesting to the media. Similarly is it not also a violation of Article 10 to gag both children in care and parents during contact sessions preventing them from reporting abuse or injuries received in care, discussing their cases, whispering or discussing adoptions under threat that contact will be immediately stopped if parents or children break these rules?

Again, it is NOT the Human Rights Act he means, but Article 10 of the ECHR. I agree he has a point about our stringent rules on confidentiality in children proceedings – I think they are too strict and they should be relaxed; a proposition with which the President of the Family Division agrees. We do need to be able to talk about important issues, such as the State’s intervention in our family lives.

But the rest of this is odd. It underscores that Ian Josephs – in common with so many of the other campaigners in this field – don’t really see children as anything other than adjuncts of their parents. It is the parents’ feelings that matter. The children are there to mop up those feelings. It should be immediately obvious why it is not desirable in a contact session to start conversations about the proceedings or the fact that the children might be adopted. Younger children are likely to be simply distressed and confused by such conversations. Contact should be about enjoying the time with one another, not a platform for a parent to make their case to their children.

8. In many cases parents who have committed no crimes are forbidden by the family courts to contact their own children directly or even indirectly by email etc. Surely that must be a flagrant violation of Article 10 allowing free association when parents as a consequence jailed for breaching the order by sending a birthday card or waving at their own children in the street?

The reason why a parent would be forbidden to so contact their children is almost always because when the parent has been allowed direct contact they have abused that in very serious ways. For example, Vicky Haigh who attempted to brainwash her daughter into believing that she had been sexually abused by her own father. It is a useful indicator of Mr Josephs’ mind set that he cannot accept that Vicky Haigh is anything other than a victim of the Evil Secret Family courts. Again, I suspect this flows from his philosophy that children are important only in so far as they reflect their parents’ desires and emotions.


40 thoughts on “The woeful state of our debate Part VI: 8 questions to ask family judges.

  1. Amber

    At the conference I spoke to Mr Josephs and told him my concerns about ignoring ss & the danger it is. Mr Josephs stated his advice has saved families. Whilst I agree in not being open, having gone through proceedings myself and having assisted clients my view is to record all conversations, answer questions politely, photograph anything which is being used as evidence- i.e. state of home, bruising on child and ALWAYS have an Independent child advocate so children are not seen alone.

    Richmond Upon Thames children services put leading questions to an 8 yr old who got fed up, cried twice but they continued until the child felt they had to agree to get rid of them as they were so frightened. That child now trusts no-one in the medical field, police, LA because of the experience. The child said, ‘NO-one believed me’ ‘They never listened’

    I am happy to assist families in London& Birmingham, in particular where a child’s voice is not heard or there is a medical condition potentially undiagnosed (not autism as I do not have knowledge) or there are siblings issues.

    Back to Mr Josephs & potential scaremongering. The media really need to publish Judgements & have The Transparency Project approve what is written so the truth & not bias is written. For example the recent ‘surrogacy’ child where the mother clearly alienated the father from seeing his child, in effect using him as a sperm donor was so off the wall from the Judgement.

    There is also JFF’s/ IJ link to Sabine McNeill/ Belinda McKenzie which this site has written on. Now UKIP & Lucy Allan have joined the band wagon. The Liberal Democrats MPs or our 100 plus Lords never supported them, even when Simon Hughes was a Minister-( & an excellent one having founded the Voice of a Child) but now UKIP & Tory do. Lucy Allan has filled Hemming’s place, even having his aura present with taking over his office at Westminster. If she is to be transparent then she should provide full factual evidence of her case, copies for the public to read.

    I fear for vulnerable, innocent families who seek advice/ representation/ assistance from them as in one case I know of a parent was accused of poor decision-making as they desperately wanted help & had a campaigner give them wrong advice& make the case worse.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      for me, the absolute tragedy is that the ‘advice’ IJ and others give does not SAVE families, it condemns them. There are many cases where I think the outcome could have been very different if the parents had felt able to work with the SW. I am not saying they had to smile and be their best friends; but those who take IJ’s advice re ‘never’ co-operating, find themselves written off pretty quickly.

      the language he uses is often appalling – calling SW ‘scum’ for e.g. and saying that legal aid lawyers just have their ‘snouts in the trough’. He alienates people who might be helpful and he stirs up the desperate and vulnerable to doing even more desperate things. He seems to have lots of money but he won’t put it to any good use.

      And, as is sadly common with others who campaign in this field, such as John Hemming, the voice and perspective of the CHILD is absent from his narrative. His fixation is with the right of the parents.

  2. angelo granda



    You have to appreciate the difference between a SCANDALMONGERING WITCH HUNT and a fair and impartial child-protection investigation.

    If it is found that a child has not suffered significant harm and that there is no imminent risk of significant harm then the next best thing for a social worker with a mind-set is to establish that a child is at significant risk of future harm.The CS will attack the parents in any way it can. It carries out a persecutory enquiry which can only be described as an INQUISITION.

    The guiding principle of the investigation is this : NO CASE, ATTACK THE PARENTS!

    Unorthodox in any way
    Learning difficulties
    Bad nerves
    History of depression
    Any other mental disorder
    Hygiene issues
    Any disagreements with school staff
    Ever took child to school late or kept the child off school
    Ever smacked the child
    Ever disciplined or controlled the child
    Has the child met targets
    Has the parent attended all medical appointments
    Has the parent ever done anything at all which might be considered wrong or made any mistakes however small

    All these and more.A witch hunt, by nature is essentially discriminatory against the targets.

    Remember the guiding principle :

    If a parent has been on line for advice or telephoned an advice line and taken the advice, they will be attacked for that.A parent can be attacked for going on the FRG website and citing their family rights to the Social Worker who will advise the parents to keep off the web rather than exercise their right to an advocate.Any disagreement with the SW of any kind will be attacked as inappropriate.

    Please make this parents view known to any working parties in which you engage.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      But your list contains many examples of issues which are genuine child protection concerns. It is worrying if a child is failing to meet developmental targets, if a parent isn’t taking them to the doctors, if they are missing school or persistently late, if the parent is getting into arguments with teachers etc, etc. Yes, if these things are a one off or someone is having a bad day that should n’t trigger a child protection investigation… but what if is once a week? Every other day? Every day?

      Where would YOU draw the line? Or would you accept it isn’t always easy to draw the line in the right place, for the right length or that the line might shift over time? People do their best. It’s not always perfect and mistakes will always be made because human beings are weak and fallible.

      But what ARE you suggesting? That we simply ignore all and any signs of concern about a child, in case the parent feels they are being ‘attacked’?

      1. angelo granda

        Sarah,We cannot say anyone is wrong to draw the court’s attention to valid concerns.The point i am making is that when the CS mind is set they make it a witch hunt not a fair enquiry!
        They are deceptive. At the same time they can be dense and give the game away..
        Recently a parent said on this forum ” she never said one good thing about me,not one” Does that not speak for itself?
        A child might go to school clean and happy on a regular basis. It may have been noted on one or two rare occasions that a child was dirtily clothed or arrived with a slight bruise and they make the most of it.They might find half a dozen minor lapses over a period of five years but ignore the times when there has been no problem.If there had been significant concern,the school would have reported it to them.
        Once a SW has set a child-protection proceedings in train, even if they find they have no case, they go all out to justify it especially if they have removed a child unlawfully!

  3. angelo granda

    Amber, Please also note that none of the issues above break any laws and také the time to read Sarah’s excellent post on the Human Rights thread 1989 in relation to photographing children.

  4. angelo granda

    Amber , i would also add my view that often it isn’t the key social worker who carries out the document based witch hunt and i have good reasons for it.
    The hunts are conducted by CS team managers who are very well-versed in deceptiive tactics.The inexerienced SW’s merely sign them off.
    Look carefully and you will see that with most or all of the allegations made e.g. the mum appeared intoxicated or smelled of alcohol, the CS makes no attempt whatsoever to establish any scientific proof. Indeed, they will usually be allegations which it is impossible for parents to disprove scientifically.
    This is the way of the CS. They know the tactics work!

  5. Kate Wells

    WHERE is your evidence for your ridiculous assertions Angelo? Social workers and managers in general do NOT resort to deceptive tactics, and the notion that it’s the CSs manager that goes “on the hunt” is just not the case. You mention “the mom appeared intoxicated and smelled of alcohol” – quite possible. I have certainly come across this scenario many times over the years. It isn’t difficult to tell when someone is intoxicated, nor is it to smell alcohol. Mostly mothers in this state (in my experience) will be honest and say they’ve been drinking, sometimes showing me the empty bottles. I recall going out on a referral of a child alone (aged 7) and she was able to tell me which pub her mom was in, and I went and asked the mother to come home with me, which she did. The 7 year old sprang into action and made the sofa comfortable for her mom and covered her with a blanket, and got her cigarettes and a glass of water. This is known as the “parentified child” (child parenting the adult as the term suggests) I got a neighbour to take the child until the mother was sober – no further action was taken.

    You state:

    Once a SW has set a child-protection proceedings in train, even if they find they have no case, they go all out to justify it especially if they have removed a child unlawfully!

    This makes no sense. The very fact that the child has been removed must mean that the court has believed the evidence of the social worker and made an Order preventing the child to live with the birthparents. Hence it can’t be an unlawful removal.

    1. angelo granda

      I have given a parents view and if another parent disagrees with me, i will worry.

      I am always glad to see the views of a social worker alongside my own because it enables readers to decide for themselves.It does not surprise me that you are diametrically opposed to some of the things i write ,Kate, but i think you are grossly mistaken if you think children are only removed under the auspices of a court order issued by a Court.
      Social Workers often také matters into their own hands and remove children from their family homes unlawfully.
      In my view, you interfered in the family life of a child unlawfully without a court order when you removed the child to a neighbour.Just one example. Had i been there,i would have called the Police immediately , reported the mother for criminal neglect and the Police could have had made more responsible decisions.They have a paramount duty to protect children and would have done the job properly. NOT SIMPLY DUMP A VULNERABLE Z YEAR-OLD LITTLE GIRL ON A NEIGHBOUR AND DROP THE CASE! The Police would have acted lawfully,contacted the husband or a member of family to care for the child and taken Mum away for questioning.If unable to contact anyone they would have removed the child LAWFULLY into police protection under S46 (C.Act 1989).
      I don’t think I need comment any further on your post.

  6. Kate Wells

    Sarah – what was the event that Josephs was speaking at? Your excellent piece spells out very clearly how ill informed he is, and demonstrated his arrogance and refusal to take on board the legal issues. He is a dangerous man, especially as I gather many people were in agreement with him? I think you were surprised he turned up – was it a conference and how did he get to have the time to spout his bullshit. Makes me so angry, especially in relation to the Maria Black case, and his refusal to accept any wrongdoing.
    What IS it with these men, Hemming, Booker, Josephs, Fleming – I try to understand all human behaviour but I have no idea what motivates these men.

    1. ian josephs

      I will answer Sarah’s comments on the 8 questions at length later on, but meanwhile give a quick answer to Kates last contribution because like so many who share her opinions she attributes to me views that I have never held or espoused and then triumphantly demolishes them !
      I never “refused to accept any wrongdoing in the Marie Black case”.I merely pointed out three ways in which the defence and the judge misconducted the case.
      1:-The judge refused to allow the chief witness for the defence to testify.I refer to Professor Conway who would have explained to the jur hiw work y on “false memory syndrome”
      2:-268 court documents recording the queqtioning of the children by fosters and social workers were altered in order to eliminate leading questions and anything incriminating the carers
      No attempt was made to find out what alterations had been made and what if anything would have incriminated the fosterers;No attempt was made to bring the social worker culprit to be questioned in court and nobody was prosecuted.
      I did not deny( or admit) any wrongdoing so why pretend that I did??

      1. Sarah Phillimore

        You have repeatedly and consistently denied that you did anything wrong or ill advised when you gave money to Marie Black to help her leave the country – I think that is the ‘wrong doing ‘ to which Kate refers.

        1. ian josephs

          THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN DELETED. Once again IJ names a child who deserves privacy. I warned him yesterday what would happen if he did this again. He is now banned permanently from this site. I have attempted to engage in constructive debate but his arrogant and continued failure to have any regard for the privacy of the children in these cases is unacceptable – and may put me at risk of being deemed to be in breach of injunctive orders. Sarah P.

          1. ian josephs

            Sad to ban me for reproducing articles in national newspapers; NO IAN. YOU HAVE BEEN BANNED FOR REPEATEDLY ATTEMPTING TO IDENTIFY CHILDREN. If you are prepared to promise that you will never do that again, I would consider allowing you to post again. But, as I strongly suspect, you simply cannot understand why it is wrong to do this to children (because, as I strongly suspect, you do not accord children any humanity other than as children of their parents) I think you cannot help yourself. I simply can’t run the risk of you publishing a child’s name or linking them to an offender in a way prohibited by the court.

    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      It was the 9th annual debate hosted by the Family Justice Council – follow the link at the top of the post for more details.

      1. ian josephs

        Well I promise not to say or do anything in future that could identify children on your site with no exceptions.
        I do however wonder why Lucy Allen was allowed by Sir James Munby at the FJC debate to identify herself and her children without reproach or even comment…………….

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          Because it’s not the internet. Do you understand the difference between talking about your children at a small public event and publishing their names on the Internet? Do you understand that distinction? Do you understand why the children in the MB case must not be identified? Because if you don’t it’s simply too dangerous to continue to let you post.

          1. ian josephs

            The secrecy law must apply to both public meetings and the internet or neither since no specific exceptions have been made by statute..I agree children should not be named unless pictures and names have already appeared in ythe national press (I refer to the child in France)

  7. angelo granda

    In the age of P.C. ( 21st century) , commentators should avoid ‘sexism’, Sarah, also what some may consider overly ‘robust’ language.
    My complaint is against Kate Wells and her post above.
    She talks of B.S. and these ‘men’ as though all men are dogs.She fails to use first names or courtesy titles.She makes no mention of Lucy Allen or any of the women who express similar opinions.
    I am not in the habit of complaining to moderators but i have been admonished for much less. I suggest her post is ‘hate-mail’ or ‘trollism’ almost .We do not want standards to fall.
    I trust normal procedure will be followed and appropriate,proportionate action will be taken.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I do not agree that the phrase ‘these men’ can reasonably be equated to ‘all men are dogs’ so I see nothing wrong with Kate’s comments.

      I agree however that there are women active in this field who are every bit as unreasonable and foolish as the men – I note in particular Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie.

      However the most high profile and active DO appear to be men and I know both Kate and I have wondered about what really motivates them, given that their campaigning gives them easy access to a great many very vulnerable women.

      1. angelo granda

        I respect your decision ,Sarah,however if you remember we have banned terms like ‘ spouting b.s.’ haven’t we?
        I don’t think we should compromise the CPR’s Google rating.

        Kate.I think you have let down yourself and the CS on this occasion.I accept you are a stolid,down-to-earth Brummie with good intentions ( I know many brummies and they are salt of the earth).
        I trust they were not your true colours coming out.I can tell from your previous posts you are honest and reasonable normally.
        Please accept my apologies for complaining to the Moderator; lets say no more about it and move on.

  8. angelo granda

    Before Ian Josephs comes on to reply to Sarah, may i give a parents view on her remarks about Article 10 and contacts.

    Fact: Article 10 sets out our human rights to free speech.

    As per usual ,child-protection professionals have come up with reasons why children( and parents,of course)should be denied their human rights on the grounds it is in ‘the best interests of children’.

    Children are not only adjuncts of their parents but they are adjuncts.In particular,the parents have PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY for their children and it is for they and they alone to decide whether they tell the truth , explain and discuss the situation,and answer the relevant questions of their own children.No-one else has a right to censor or interrupt natural free speech between parents and children.To deny the rights we have under Article 10 also contravenes Article 3. It is the children’s feelings that matter and parents are there to mop up those feelings.

    When children are not allowed to talk freely with their parents ( who they love and trust) and not told the truth,it causes them very significant emotional harm.The CS rulings are not made for the benefit of the children; they make them to suppress the truth. It can be said that any contravention of Article 10 is only to suppress the truth.

    Why should parents want to talk in detail with young children about complicated court proceedings? That is unrealistic! Parents will merely explain the situation very basically with younger children,answer questions when asked and offer parental comfort and support. They wiil alleviate any distress which is desirable.
    The last thing CHILDREN want to do at contact meetings is be forced to play ring’o’ring roses,sing row-row-row the boat and smile at the command of SW’s
    or lawyers who think that is ENJOYMENT.

    Children want to be as close to their parents as they possibly can,they want to communicate freely with their parents and they don’t want SW’s interrupting and watching over them.If you don’t believe me ask them!

    Finally ,i call Sarahs attention to these comments from another thread from a Mum with which she agreed.

    –Professionals seem far more interested in safeguarding their own reputations and defending the system–

    — I feel we were badly let down by the legal professionals representing my son and the guardian–

    –I felt I was set up to fail by legal representatives —

    –Authorities and agencies and groups of professionals – some of whom are your clients – tend to prioritise their own interests.–

  9. ian josephs

    I do thank Sarah for taking the trouble to answer the 8 questions that I left for the family justice council. I will answer her points in the order that she makes them. I have already made it clear that my actions with regard to Marie Black merely show that the judge conducted the trial unfairly and that I did not presume to say that she was guilty or not guilty. I am flattered that she finds me a danger to the establishment and can understand why she wishes to suppress comment from myself and others.
    Here are my answers to Sarah’s comments on my 8 questions:
    1) She asks for evidence that substantial numbers of pregnant woment are fleeing from the UK to have their babies in other countries. We have extensive support networks in Ireland, France and Cyprus. All of whom say that numbers are on the increase. I myself receive more and more phone calls from pregnant mothers and I daresay that others with similar views will say the same. I repeat that Great Britain is the only country in the world from which pregnant women leave the country in large numbers to have their babies safety in more civilised places. It is true that some families fled from Sweden but few of them were pregnant mothers. I feel that Sarah is confusing this with the case Fran Lyon who was pregnant and when accused by UK social workers of being a risk to her unborn child because of possible future emotional abuse she actually fled from UK to Sweden where she was made welcome to work and bring up her child. Lastly on this first question Sarah says that I never report on cases that went wrong. The simple fact is that even in Ireland the British authorities are now failing to bring back any babies that have escaped while still unborn. Every non criminal mother deserves a chance to keep her baby so there is no need to go too deeply into the background of such women. To my knowledge no babies have been taken permanently by Irish or French authorities from escapees in the last 12 years so therefore the foreign authorities were presumably happy with the mothers in question.

    2) I claim quite accurately that adoption without consent cannot be a last resort when nothing else will do since other countries manage largely without it. This is simply a statement of truth and not in itself an argument against forced adoption. I just repeat that adoption in the UK is not a last resort and cannot be a last resort since other remedies are used in other countries. That is a statement of fact not a statement of opinion.

    3) I stated that OUR Président of the family courts once said that since the abolition of capital punishment the most drastic decision a judge could take was to take a child from his parents. It is no good Sarah claiming it is not a punishment, It clearly is a punishment for any woman to have her new born baby taken and it is also a punishment for the baby to be deprived of a loving mother and later to be given to complete strangers with all the risks that can entail. Established history should play no part especially if any such mother has turned her life around and lives an impeccable present. Most pregnant mothers who contact me complain that they have done nothing wrong and that the only reason given is “risk of future emotional abuse”. It is both wicked and absurd to take a baby because a social worker with a crystal ball reads the future (probably with far less skill than gypsy Rose Lee in her fair ground tent who makes a living at it and is therefore pretty good at it). Time and again children are taken because a violent Partner often shouted at them or a parent, and the baby is taken even when the mothe for exampler has found a new quiet and gentle Partner. Boys of 6 years upwards with a couple of bruises are taken away on the first occasion that they are spotted, even though every boy gets bruises at school or elsewhere. Parents seem to automatically get the blame. It s quite wrong to take children (especially boys) on the first occasion that bruises are noticed. Only a series of bruises over a period such as was suffered by baby P who alas was left to die despite numerous visits to hospital.In fact abusive parents rarely go near a court if they can help it; Only parents who really love their children fight for them through the family court system suffering hurtful accusations in the process;Surely such parents should win but they rarely do. “Punishment without crime” is not meaningless because it is both cruel and heartless to pretend it is not a punishment to take new born baby from it’s mother. It is wicked to continue to persecute law abiding citizens. To do this makes no sense of the law.,if one is punished not only for breaking it but also when one keeps it. Just because Sarah believes that the purpose of such removal is not punishment does not stop it from being a punishment for both mother and baby.

    4) Yes, sarah still believes that the experts are instructed and agreed by all parties including the parents. This is only theory because in practice the parents have to accept the expert chosen by the courts and the social workers together and they are never allowed to choose for themselves.Professor Ireland in a Survey for the government described such experts as hired guns and that indeed is what most of them are ! It is quite unjust that parents are not allowed a second opinion when an expert claims an injury is non accidental. This is quite different from the criminal courts where both sides call their own experts. There has been no challenge of course because generally speaking legal aid lawyers are only too pleased to give in to the demands by social workers. Lastly on this point a borderline personality disorder just means that in the case of parents they do not like social workers or the system. It is a ridiculous excuse for a condition rarely actually suffered by parents in the family courts but it is a convenient excuse for forced adoption.

    5) Sarah asks what evidence there is that open adoptions (as used in the USA) have better results for children than closed adoptions as used in the UK because the latter break all contact with birth families. I invite her or any anyone else to Google “open adoptions “on internet to see the research for themselves as it seem unecessary to reproduce it all here. I did not say that parents would be happy with one annual contact, what I do say is that if faced with the choice of accepting adoption with one contact a year or alternatively fighting and maybe losing the case and ending with nothing parents would very often take the safer option which would at least garantee them to know how their children were getting on and whether indeed they were alive or dead.

    6) Babies who are taken for risk of emotional abuse are the subject of most of the calls I receive from pregnant mothers. Past issues with violence, mental health or removal of children should suffice. Parents Sarah says should never escape their past. This is totally wrong except in the case of the very recent past. So that mothers who have been clean of drugs and free from domestic voilence for some years should not have their past thrown at them to justify taking their children. I am sorry that the very politically correct Sarah found my reference to Italians who shout at each other in the family racist and offensive. I promise you that every Italian I have ever met has agreed that they do mostly have this characteristic and shout at each other in the family home. They add of course that the family unit in Italy is much stronger than that in the UK since Italians rarely put elderly people in care homes etc…

    7) Free speech is the essential part of any democracy, I repeat that gagging mothers and gagging children should be illegal unless national security is involved. I do not see children as adjuncts of their Sarah claims.In fact the suppression of free speech for children is worse than that for adults. Children in care aged 6+ are often taken screaming with horror from their parents by squads of uniform police early in the morning, their mobile phones and laptops are confiscated to isolate them from family and friends. Murderers and rapists are allowed to phone out from prison but not these children. When parents visit foreign children are not allowed to speak their own language and have to speak to their parents in broken English. Children are not allowed to report to parents abuse in care or to discuss the possibility of returning home. These children are I repeat ruthlessly gagged unlike serial killers in jail who can phone out and can also discuss whatever they like with visitors. Sarah does sound more like a social worker than a lawyer when she says that contact should be all about enjoying their time with one another. How can they enjoy their time together when they cannot speak their own language, cannot discuss coing home, cannot discuss their case and are restricted to playing stupid board games?. I feel compassion for these children perhaps Sarah does not.
    8) I say that it is wrong to put parents in jail for sending a birthday card or waving at their children in the street in defiance of a court order. These things are a violation of article 10 and there is no excuse for such drastic restrictions on parents who have commited no crimes. Sarah states as usual that she can read my mind and that I cannot accept that Vicky Haigh is anything other than a victim. I never said this at all, What I did say and still do say is that it is wicked to cut off communication from such a mother with her own child if she has not been convicted of a crime against that child. At the very least birthday cards and letters should be allowed no matter what the circumstances and jail for parents who dare to try and communicate with their own children in such a way is quite inhuman.

    Lastly Kathy and at times yourself Sarah have queried as to the motives of myself and people like John Hemming and Christopher Booker and many others. I will give th answer in one word “COMPASSION” and I mean compassion for the children and their law abiding parents when they are harshly separated by the State. Tearful mothers especially have phoned me every single day in the last 12 years asking how they can fight and save their children. I have helped quite a few succesfully to do this because the distress that these parents suffer, even when they have broken no laws, should be enough to break even the stony hearts of social workers and legal aid lawyers (professional losers). Sir James Munby at the meeting said that in 30 or 40 years time adoption will be looked at quite differently from the way it is now. I believe that he was hinting that a future prime minister may apologize (as did George Brown) for the way the social services and UK courts have at this time treated both parents children by splitting them up for no good reason. Until then we must help children and parents as best we can.

  10. angelo granda

    Sarah,Possibly I misunderstand the whole issue of publicity,newspaper publishing,the internet etc. and why parents use pen-names on the many and various discussion forums.
    The rules are so confusing to the layman which leads me to ask this quite genuine question.

    1. angelo granda

      I am so sorry, Sarah.Please explain the law.BTW. both yourself and Kate have let the same name slib just a few posts up.
      Hadn’t you better delete it there? I just don’t understand.

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        Sorry I don’t understand your point. Marie Black’s name is in the public domain. She has been convicted in a criminal court. However the children in that case must NOT be identified. Not simply because a court order prohibits it, but because any child victim of adult abuse deserves to have privacy. There is absolutely no need to identify children to have the kind of discussions we need to have.

        I think I have made it absolutely clear the line I will take if anyone attempts to identify children on this site. I may regret giving IJ another chance. If he suddenly disappears, you will know why.

          1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            That wasn’t the bit I was concerned about deleting.

            Sorry, I don’t think this is a difficult concept to grasp. We don’t need to identify individual children to discuss reforms to the child protection system.

  11. ian josephs

    Sarah ,I like to know if indeed the rules are as strict as you make out why the Conservative MP could clearly identify herself by name and by implication her kids (who were taken into care but later released) at the FJC meeting we both apparently attended when the chair was none other than the President of the family courts Sir James Munby who made no remark and certainly no objection .

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      You clearly don’t understand the distinction between a parent talking about her child in a meeting and a third party publishing details that would identify a child on the Internet.

      I am not having this conversation. If you don’t understand or accept that you must not attempt to identify children on this site, I will block any future comments from your IP address.

        1. angelo granda

          This comment is deleted. I appreciate you don’t seem to be aware of the implications of what you are saying but the criminal court, so far as I understand it, has forbidden precisely this kind of comment.

          1. angelo granda

            Well in that case,i can only bow to your authority as a lawyer and apologise.
            Nevertheless,I suggest in future that we use initials rather than real names when discussing real cases.It isn’t fair on the children involved to have the names of their parents splashed all over the internet for everyone to see.All kinds of nutters see the name and may subject the children to all kinds of bullying and abuse online(facebook etc,)

    1. angelo granda

      We can have FREE SPEECH i think, without publishing the offender’s name on discussion forums.

      I would be interested in all opinions opposed to me.
      False information is often put out into the Public domain by the CS,libel etc. about parents. Word soon gets around at school and i know of one boy who is continually ribbed for having no Mum and Dad.He had been brainwashed into that belief.
      I also remember how disadvantaged the Barnardoes children were at my school,how ill-treated they were in care and how the other children made a fool of them.
      Obviously,a child should be allowed to speak freely to his parents then he can report the circumstances he is in.Where that human right is denied him,it is not only possible but likely he is suffering other abuse (perhaps sexual).Why else would his human rights be contravened if not to stop him revealing it?

  12. angelo granda

    Having said that,if a parent has parental responsibility for a child,perhaps it should be left up to her to decide whether it is in her child’s best interests to use her own name on forums. What are the views of others on that?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Sadly I don’t think some parents are able to put their child’s interests ahead of their own. The actions of the mother in the Hampstead satanic ritual abuse case showed that – now millions of people have seen her children on line repeating allegations about sexual abuse that they were bullied into making.

      so I certainly don’t think parents should have free reign to put their children all over the internet, particularly not if they are just using their children as pawns in some kind of game.

  13. ian josephs

    Great news from Brian who runs our Irish support network for parents fleeing UK social workers !

    Zlata Petkova, 27, from Lithuania, and her baby fled from Blackburn, Lancashire, by ferry to Dublin on Christmas Eve, and successfully boarded a plane for Lithuania where they arrived safe and sound. She was inspired by the Pugacova family whose successful return had just been broadcast on Latvian TV news. The Latvian authorities took over the Pugacova case from the UK and closed the file. The Pugacovas are now embarking on legal action against the UK authorities.

    The French woman in prison in Dublin was released on bail Christmas Eve.

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