UKCORRUPTFAMILYCOURTS

February 28, 2010

Adoption and family court scandals

Filed under: Secret family courts — nojusticeforparents @ 7:51 am
How social services are paid bonuses to snatch babies for adoption
By SUE REID
Last updated at 23:10 31 January 2008
National disgrace: The number of babies taken from their mothers and put up for adoption is rising sharply
For a mother, there can be no greater horror than having a baby snatched away by the State at birth.
The women to whom it has happened say their lives are ruined for ever – and goodness knows what longterm effect it has on the child.
Most never recover from this trauma.
Imagine a baby growing in your body for nine months, imagine going through the emotion of bringing it into the world, only to have social workers seize the newborn, sometimes within minutes of its first cry and often on the flimsiest of excuses.
Yet this disturbing scenario is played out every day.
The number of babies under one month old being taken into care for adoption is now running at almost four a day (a 300 per cent increase over a decade).
In total, 75 children of all ages are being removed from their parents every week before being handed over to new families.
Some of these may have been willingly given up for adoption, but critics of the Government’s policy are convinced that the vast majority are taken by force.
Time and again, the mothers say they are innocent of any wrongdoing.
Of course, there are people who are not fit to be parents and it is the duty of any responsible State to protect their children.
But over the five years since I began investigating the scandal of forced adoptions, I have found a deeply secretive system which is too often biased against basically decent families.
I have been told of routine dishonesty by social workers and questionable evidence given by doctors which has wrongly condemned mothers.
Meanwhile, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been given to councils to encourage them to meet high Government targets on child adoptions.
Under New Labour policy, Tony Blair changed targets in 2000 to raise the number of children being adopted by 50 per cent to 5,400 a year.
The annual tally has now reached almost 4,000 in England and Wales – four times higher than in France, which has a similar-sized population.
Blair promised millions of pounds to councils that achieved the targets and some have already received more than £2million each in rewards for successful adoptions.
Figures recently released by the Department for Local Government and Community Cohesion show that two councils – Essex and Kent – were offered more than £2million “bonuses” over three years to encourage additional adoptions.
Four others – Norfolk, Gloucestershire, Cheshire and Hampshire – were promised an extra £1million.
This sweeping shake-up was designed for all the right reasons: to get difficult-to-place older children in care homes allocated to new parents.
But the reforms didn’t work. Encouraged by the promise of extra cash, social workers began to earmark babies and cute toddlers who were most easy to place in adoptive homes, leaving the more difficultto-place older children in care.
As a result, the number of over-sevens adopted has plummeted by half.
Critics – including family solicitors, MPs and midwives as well as the wronged families – report cases where young children are selected, even before birth, by social workers in order to win the bonuses.
More chillingly, parents have been told by social workers they must lose their children because, at some time in the future, they might abuse them.
One mother’s son was adopted on the grounds that there was a chance she might shout at him when he was older.
In Scotland, where there are no official targets, adoptions are a fraction of the number south of the border, even allowing for the smaller population.
What’s more, the obsessive secrecy of the system means that the public only occasionally gets an inkling of the human tragedy now unfolding across the country.
For at the heart of this adoption system are the family courts, whose hearings are conducted behind closed doors in order to protect the identity of the children involved.
Yet this secrecy threatens the centuries-old tradition of Britain’s legal system – the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.
From the moment a mother is first accused of being incapable as a parent – a decision nearly always made by a social worker or doctor – the system is pitted against her.
There are no juries in family courts, only a lone judge or trio of magistrates who make decisions based on the balance of probability.
Crucially, the courts’ culture of secrecy means that if a social worker lies or fabricates notes or a medical expert giving evidence makes a mistake, no one finds out and there is no retribution.
Only the workings of the homeland security service, MI5, are guarded more closely than those of the family courts.
From the time a child is named on a social services care order until the day they are adopted, the parents are breaking the law – a crime punishable by imprisonment – if they tell anyone what is happening to their family.
Anything from a chat with a neighbour to a letter sent to a friend can land them in jail.
And many have found themselves sent to prison for breaching court orders by talking about their case.
As High Court judge Mr Justice Munby told MPs last year: “It seems quite indefensible that there should be no access by the media, and no access by the public, to what is going on in courts where judges are, day by day, taking people’s children away.”
However, it is not only secretive and publicly unscrutinised family courts that are creating an injustice in our adoption system.
There is a more worrying factor involved. Look at the official figures. Why are they so high? Is it really true that more mothers are becoming potential killers or abusers?
Or are the financial bonuses offered to councils fuelling the astonishing rise in forced adoptions?
John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP campaigning to change the adoption system, said yesterday: “I have evidence that 1,000 children are wrongly being seized from their birth parents each year even though they have not been harmed in any way.
“The targets are dangerous and lead to social workers being over-eager.
“The system’s secrecy hides any wrongdoing. One has to ask if a mother is expected to have problems looking after her baby, why doesn’t the State help her instead of taking her child away?”
The MP’s concerns are echoed by the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS), a body which advises new mothers.
Spokeswoman Beverley Beech insists: “Babies are being removed from their mothers by social workers using any excuse.
“We strongly suspect this is because newborns and toddlers are more easily found homes than older children. They are a marketable commodity.
“I know of social workers making up stories about innocent mothers simply to ensure their babies are put up for adoption.
“Suitable babies are even being earmarked when they are still in the womb.
“One baby was forcibly removed in the maternity ward by social workers before the mother had even finished the birth process and produced the placenta.”
Her words may be emotive. But are they true? Six months ago, I wrote an article about a young couple – who must remain anonymous because of family court law – fighting for the return of their three-year-old daughter.
She was taken within weeks of birth and is about to be adopted.
Astonishingly, a judge has issued a Draconian order gagging them from revealing anything, to anyone at all, which could identify their daughter until her 18th birthday in 2022.
Immediately after the article was published, I heard from 35 families whose children were forcibly removed.
The letters and e-mails continue to arrive – coming from a wide range of families across the social classes (including from a castle in the heart of England).
An e-mail from one father said: “Please, please help, NOW. We are about to lose our son . . . in court tomorrow for final disposals hearing before he is taken for adoption … we have done nothing wrong.”
Another father calling himself “James” rang to say his wife’s baby was one of eight seized by social workers from hospital maternity units in one small part of North-East England during one fortnight last summer.
A Welsh man complained that his grandson of three weeks was earmarked for forcible adoption by social workers.
The mother, a 21-year-old with a mild learning disorder, was told she might, just might, get post-natal depression and neglect her son.
To her great distress, her baby was put in the care of Monmouthshire social services within minutes of birth.
The grandfather said: “Our entire extended family – which includes two nurses, a qualified nanny and a police officer – have offered to help care for the baby.
“I believe my grandson has been targeted for adoption since he was in the womb.”
A Worcestershire woman told how her daughter’s baby was snatched away by three police officers and two social workers who came to the door of her house.
The girl has now been adopted.
The mother’s failure? She was said to be too young to cope.
Yet – a little over a year later – she had another baby, a boy, whom she was allowed to keep, in the same home and with the same partner.
Why on earth did she have to lose her little girl?
The grandmother emotionally explained: “All the family came forward to offer to help look after my granddaughter, and all of them were told they were not good enough.
“The social worker told us to forget her. He said: ‘She is water under the bridge.’
“We think they wanted her for adoption from the beginning.”
No wonder she, and thousands of other parents, want a shake-up of the heart-breakingly cruel adoption system which has ripped apart so many families – and which continues to do so.

How social services are paid bonuses to snatch babies for adoptionBy SUE REIDLast updated at 23:10 31 January 2008

National disgrace: The number of babies taken from their mothers and put up for adoption is rising sharplyFor a mother, there can be no greater horror than having a baby snatched away by the State at birth.The women to whom it has happened say their lives are ruined for ever – and goodness knows what longterm effect it has on the child.Most never recover from this trauma.Imagine a baby growing in your body for nine months, imagine going through the emotion of bringing it into the world, only to have social workers seize the newborn, sometimes within minutes of its first cry and often on the flimsiest of excuses.Yet this disturbing scenario is played out every day.The number of babies under one month old being taken into care for adoption is now running at almost four a day (a 300 per cent increase over a decade).In total, 75 children of all ages are being removed from their parents every week before being handed over to new families.Some of these may have been willingly given up for adoption, but critics of the Government’s policy are convinced that the vast majority are taken by force.Time and again, the mothers say they are innocent of any wrongdoing.Of course, there are people who are not fit to be parents and it is the duty of any responsible State to protect their children.
But over the five years since I began investigating the scandal of forced adoptions, I have found a deeply secretive system which is too often biased against basically decent families.I have been told of routine dishonesty by social workers and questionable evidence given by doctors which has wrongly condemned mothers.Meanwhile, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been given to councils to encourage them to meet high Government targets on child adoptions.Under New Labour policy, Tony Blair changed targets in 2000 to raise the number of children being adopted by 50 per cent to 5,400 a year.The annual tally has now reached almost 4,000 in England and Wales – four times higher than in France, which has a similar-sized population.Blair promised millions of pounds to councils that achieved the targets and some have already received more than £2million each in rewards for successful adoptions.Figures recently released by the Department for Local Government and Community Cohesion show that two councils – Essex and Kent – were offered more than £2million “bonuses” over three years to encourage additional adoptions.Four others – Norfolk, Gloucestershire, Cheshire and Hampshire – were promised an extra £1million.This sweeping shake-up was designed for all the right reasons: to get difficult-to-place older children in care homes allocated to new parents.But the reforms didn’t work. Encouraged by the promise of extra cash, social workers began to earmark babies and cute toddlers who were most easy to place in adoptive homes, leaving the more difficultto-place older children in care.As a result, the number of over-sevens adopted has plummeted by half.Critics – including family solicitors, MPs and midwives as well as the wronged families – report cases where young children are selected, even before birth, by social workers in order to win the bonuses.More chillingly, parents have been told by social workers they must lose their children because, at some time in the future, they might abuse them.One mother’s son was adopted on the grounds that there was a chance she might shout at him when he was older.In Scotland, where there are no official targets, adoptions are a fraction of the number south of the border, even allowing for the smaller population.What’s more, the obsessive secrecy of the system means that the public only occasionally gets an inkling of the human tragedy now unfolding across the country.For at the heart of this adoption system are the family courts, whose hearings are conducted behind closed doors in order to protect the identity of the children involved.Yet this secrecy threatens the centuries-old tradition of Britain’s legal system – the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.From the moment a mother is first accused of being incapable as a parent – a decision nearly always made by a social worker or doctor – the system is pitted against her.There are no juries in family courts, only a lone judge or trio of magistrates who make decisions based on the balance of probability.Crucially, the courts’ culture of secrecy means that if a social worker lies or fabricates notes or a medical expert giving evidence makes a mistake, no one finds out and there is no retribution.Only the workings of the homeland security service, MI5, are guarded more closely than those of the family courts.From the time a child is named on a social services care order until the day they are adopted, the parents are breaking the law – a crime punishable by imprisonment – if they tell anyone what is happening to their family.Anything from a chat with a neighbour to a letter sent to a friend can land them in jail.And many have found themselves sent to prison for breaching court orders by talking about their case.As High Court judge Mr Justice Munby told MPs last year: “It seems quite indefensible that there should be no access by the media, and no access by the public, to what is going on in courts where judges are, day by day, taking people’s children away.”However, it is not only secretive and publicly unscrutinised family courts that are creating an injustice in our adoption system.There is a more worrying factor involved. Look at the official figures. Why are they so high? Is it really true that more mothers are becoming potential killers or abusers?Or are the financial bonuses offered to councils fuelling the astonishing rise in forced adoptions?John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP campaigning to change the adoption system, said yesterday: “I have evidence that 1,000 children are wrongly being seized from their birth parents each year even though they have not been harmed in any way.”The targets are dangerous and lead to social workers being over-eager.”The system’s secrecy hides any wrongdoing. One has to ask if a mother is expected to have problems looking after her baby, why doesn’t the State help her instead of taking her child away?”The MP’s concerns are echoed by the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS), a body which advises new mothers.Spokeswoman Beverley Beech insists: “Babies are being removed from their mothers by social workers using any excuse.”We strongly suspect this is because newborns and toddlers are more easily found homes than older children. They are a marketable commodity.”I know of social workers making up stories about innocent mothers simply to ensure their babies are put up for adoption.”Suitable babies are even being earmarked when they are still in the womb.”One baby was forcibly removed in the maternity ward by social workers before the mother had even finished the birth process and produced the placenta.”Her words may be emotive. But are they true? Six months ago, I wrote an article about a young couple – who must remain anonymous because of family court law – fighting for the return of their three-year-old daughter.She was taken within weeks of birth and is about to be adopted.Astonishingly, a judge has issued a Draconian order gagging them from revealing anything, to anyone at all, which could identify their daughter until her 18th birthday in 2022.Immediately after the article was published, I heard from 35 families whose children were forcibly removed.The letters and e-mails continue to arrive – coming from a wide range of families across the social classes (including from a castle in the heart of England).An e-mail from one father said: “Please, please help, NOW. We are about to lose our son . . . in court tomorrow for final disposals hearing before he is taken for adoption … we have done nothing wrong.”Another father calling himself “James” rang to say his wife’s baby was one of eight seized by social workers from hospital maternity units in one small part of North-East England during one fortnight last summer.A Welsh man complained that his grandson of three weeks was earmarked for forcible adoption by social workers.The mother, a 21-year-old with a mild learning disorder, was told she might, just might, get post-natal depression and neglect her son.To her great distress, her baby was put in the care of Monmouthshire social services within minutes of birth.The grandfather said: “Our entire extended family – which includes two nurses, a qualified nanny and a police officer – have offered to help care for the baby.”I believe my grandson has been targeted for adoption since he was in the womb.”A Worcestershire woman told how her daughter’s baby was snatched away by three police officers and two social workers who came to the door of her house.The girl has now been adopted.The mother’s failure? She was said to be too young to cope.Yet – a little over a year later – she had another baby, a boy, whom she was allowed to keep, in the same home and with the same partner.Why on earth did she have to lose her little girl?The grandmother emotionally explained: “All the family came forward to offer to help look after my granddaughter, and all of them were told they were not good enough.”The social worker told us to forget her. He said: ‘She is water under the bridge.'”We think they wanted her for adoption from the beginning.”No wonder she, and thousands of other parents, want a shake-up of the heart-breakingly cruel adoption system which has ripped apart so many families – and which continues to do so.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-511609/How-social-services-paid-bonuses-snatch-babies-adoption.html#ixzz0goXpE7Uv

The shameful secrecy of the adoption system

Last updated at 21:40 01 February 2008

baby in cot

Sinister pattern: The number of babies under a month taken into care for adoption has increased considerably in a decade

It seems inconceivable that such things could happen in a modern civilised country…two hours after giving birth, the young mother was lying in her hospital bed when officials from Nottingham social services snatched her baby away.

The damage that this must inflict on the mother, let alone the child, is almost impossible to conceive.

But what makes the case worse is that the social workers acted without legal authority.

For the moment, Mr Justice Munby has ordered the child reunited with its mother.

But the really disturbing aspect is that far from being an isolated incident, it seems to be part of a sinister pattern.

The number of babies under one month being taken into care for adoption is now four a day, a 300 per cent increase on a decade ago.

What is more disturbing is that social services have arguably been encouraged to behave in this way by a financial incentive, introduced by Tony Blair to increase the number of adoptions.

Instead of trying to place the more difficult older children with parents, local authorities have been concentrating on babies, for whom it is far easier to find adoptive parents.

Meanwhile, the number of seven-year-olds being adopted has halved.

Mr Blair’s perverse incentive is being quietly abolished, but the damage has been done.

This deeply worrying scenario is made worse by the cloak of secrecy surrounding the family courts, where parents are unable to challenge – or even talk about – their decisions, however perverse.

Last year, the same judge, Mr Munby, told MPs that “it seems quite indefensible that there should be no access by the media, and no access by the public, to what is going on in courts where judges are, day by day, taking people’s children away”.

Today, the judge could take that girl’s baby away again, and we wouldn’t be allowed to know anything about how that decision was reached.

If the mother tried to defend herself in public, she would go to prison.

Of course, vulnerable children must be protected, and social workers have impossible judgments to make. But officials must act within the law.

Judges must think more carefully before shattering that all-important bond between a newborn baby and its mother.

And the family courts, like the rest of the legal system, must be opened up to proper public scrutiny.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-511604/The-shameful-secrecy-adoption-system.html#ixzz0goYUK93G

Women try to stop babies being taken into care by fleeing to Spain

(Solarpix.com)

The Smiths’ baby son was born in Spain, where the parents had fled after their other child had been taken into care by social workers

Alice Fishburn

RECOMMEND? (55)

A pregnant British woman has fled to Spain with her parents to prevent her unborn baby being taken into care by social services, despite an offer by the child’s grandparents to foster her.

Megan Coote, 21, is one of two British women who have escaped to Spain after threats by Suffolk social services to remove their babies. The infants were born last week two days apart and are now neighbours.

Their cases reflect what John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP and chairman of Justice for Families, believes is a growing phenomenon. “It is clear that nothing is being done to sort the family courts out and so more people are thinking of simply emigrating,” he said.

The second British woman, Carissa Smith, 32, arrived in Spain over Christmas with her husband, Jim, £300, three cats and their baby on the way. Mr Smith reckons he has spoken to dozens of couples who have made a similar decision. “There’s so many people who want to go back but are frightened,” he said. “It is a horrible way to live. Nobody wants to leave their country, family and friends, but you have to.” Their name has been changed for legal reasons.

The birth of the Smiths’ son brings back painful memories of the daughter they no longer see. Carissa had a psychologist’s diagnosis of factitious illness, which used to be known as Münchausen’s syndrome by proxy, in 2008. The same psychologist later changed the diagnosis to narcissistic personality disorder, but their daughter was already in care. Although experts said there was no immediate risk to the child, social services said she could face emotional abuse in future. When Carissa became pregnant again, the Smiths decided to move abroad.

Tim Yeo, the couple’s MP, suggested in Parliament that Suffolk social workers acted in the Smith case in a manner “sometimes tantamount to child kidnapping”. That the Coote family fled the same authority “rather bears out the theory I had that the department intervenes not with the aim of helping couples become good parents but of separating vulnerable couples from their baby”, Mr Yeo told The Times.

In the case of Ms Coote, who has mild learning difficulties, her parents offered to foster their grandchild. When she became pregnant, her midwife went to social services with concerns about her emotional maturity. A psychological assessment suggested that she would not be capable of looking after the baby. Her parents disagreed, but volunteered as guardians. The baby was due but social services told them that the process would take 12 weeks and could not promise that the baby would not be put forward for adoption beforehand.

When Jim Smith learnt that the Cootes were moving away, he rang to offer them space in his new house.

Suffolk social services would not comment on individual cases. However, Simon White, director of Children and Young People’s Services, said: “Children’s services work hard to support parents and families so that children can remain in their own families. No decisions can be made before assessments which determine whether the child in question can be adequately cared for by the natural parents or within the extended family.”

Some warn that children who have been noted by social services as at risk may face further dangers abroad. Barbara Hopkin, of the Association of Lawyers for Children, was involved in a case in which a mother fled to Spain, fearing that her unborn child would be removed. The baby died, smothered when her drunken boyfriend rolled on it. “Other countries are much less interventionist and our system is generally much better,” Ms Hopkin said.

But Mr Yeo believed that more support for families at home was necessary. “It’s a tragedy that loving couples should have to flee Britain to feel safe to bring up their own baby. It’s a terrible situation for any family and rather a serious indictment of the way the system of support is operating.”

The Cootes feel that they have been let down by social services. “I employ people. I pay my taxes. I abide by the law,” Mr Coote said. “I didn’t think that my country was going to kick me in the teeth.” He is now battling to find a way to reunite his family in the United Kingdom where he still runs a business and his son is in school.

For the Smiths, Spain is home. But their plan to celebrate their baby’s return from hospital yesterday was marred by a visit from Spanish authorities. They had been alerted by Suffolk social services. “They are being really nice but we’ve got a weekend of worry ahead,” said Mr Smith.

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article7043475.ece

‘Uppity’ parents who challenge the authorities ‘risk having children taken away’

“Uppity” parents who challenge doctors or councils over their children’s upbringing are increasingly at risk of having them taken away, it has been claimed.

By John Bingham

Published: 4:32PM BST 06 Sep 2009

Local authorities are using proceedings in the family courts as “retaliation” against parents who question doctors’ diagnoses of their children or challenge other decisions, according to an MP.

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, who coordinates a campaign called Justice for Families, which calls for reform of the family court system, said that the practice was becoming common.

“Very often care proceedings are used as retaliation by local authorities against ‘uppity’ people who question the system,” he told a Sunday newspaper.

One family reportedly had all six of their children taken into care after they questioned the need for an invasive medical test on their daughter who was suspected of having a blood disease.

Although the girl later tested negative for the condition, an emergency protection order remained in place

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/6146654/Uppity-parents-who-challenge-the-authorities-risk-having-children-taken-away.html

Family courts system accused of hiding evidence from parents

Kaya Burgess

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(Chris Harris/The Times)

Marc Tufano has not seen his two sons for seven years

Parents fighting in the family courts for contact with their children are being denied access to their personal files by a corrupt system, a leading parental rights campaigner has said.

Alison Stevens, head of Parents Against Injustice, has called for Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to force social services and individual courts to comply with the Data Protection Act.

She said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days . . . but they are often not following public law guidelines. It’s corruption within the system. They are playing God, and there must be some reason why — perhaps to hide things they have got wrong in the cases.”

Evidence is gathered from a variety of sources before children are taken from their parents in family courts. Tracking down and obtaining these documents can be very difficult because they are held by various bodies and must be applied for in different ways.

Ms Stevens said: “Parents should be entitled to their files — not just social services files but all files: from health visitors, GPs, different hospitals, the ambulance trust, psychologist reports, paediatrician notes and so on.”

The Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has written to all MPs calling for a parliamentary review into the operation of the family courts. He said: “One of the ways legal practitioners prevent parents from fighting cases is by not giving them the paperwork. Often the paperwork doesn’t add up, so if parents got hold of it they would see what was going on.”

Many parents have welcomed the call for greater accountability. Roland Simpkin (not his real name) received his social services files seven years after his children were taken into care in 2001 amid allegations of abuse.

When the allegations were shown to be unfounded, he sought to obtain the evidence held on him by social services to find out why he was still not allowed to see his children.

He was sent his files last year, after pursuing his case through a series of letters, complaints and court orders, but he found that parts of the notes had been crossed through with black pen, words had been deleted and sections of paragraphs had been removed during photocopying.

Mr Simpkin said: “Despite being repeatedly found not to have harmed or posed a risk of harm to \ children or anybody else’s, the sheer amount of delay introduced by the sluggishness of the social services department to share information is likely to be a serious negative factor in any potential repeated contact \.”

In another case, Marc Tufano, an actor who has appeared in EastEnders and The Bill, has not seen his two sons for seven years because he cannot obtain the documents that he needs to bring his case to appeal.

His children were given residence with his partner in 2003 after their relationship broke down. Though he immediately tried to launch an appeal, he said that he had found it impossible to obtain transcripts of the original court hearings because the court authorities had been slow to reply to his requests and had since claimed to have destroyed the documents.

Mr Tufano said: “I have begged these government agents to leave me alone so as I can see my sons without being harassed by endless arguments over the paperwork they require. It is made impossible for parents to get hold of the documents they need.”

Case study: I fired six sets of solicitors

Sezgi Kapur’s two daughters were taken from her in 2003 amid allegations that her violent attitude towards care professionals could be harmful to her children, allegations she denies.

Before the hearings in the family court, her requests for her social services files were ignored or denied, and she was forced to apply for court orders to disclose the documents. Without them, Ms Kapur was unable to respond to the evidence gathered against her by social services and care workers, and so was unable to fight her case effectively.

After the files were provided, she discovered that the minutes from high-level social services meetings about her case had been withheld and that memos had been circulated to those who attended asking them to “destroy all previous copies” of notes from the meeting.

Ms Kapur said: “These meetings painted a picture of me as a volatile, aggressive, threatening individual who was alienating professionals, who might one day emotionally harm my children through this purported alienation. It was incredible to read this.

“I fired six sets of solicitors because they failed to get disclosure of all my documents. If the parents do not get a fair trial, the children do not either.”

Shaun O’Connell, a lay adviser working on behalf of Environmental Law Centre, said: “If you’re not familiar with the Data Protection Act and you don’t know the format and structure, it’s impossible.”

Names have been changed

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6188481.ece

Family courts are open, but parents will still struggle to win

Commentary: Camilla Cavendish

RECOMMEND?

The doors of the family courts are now open. But the odds remain stacked against some parents involved in care proceedings in three ways.

First, many parents have contacted The Times because they have not been able to get hold of documents to which they are entitled under the Data Protection Act, including hospital X-rays and social services files. In extreme cases, parents allege that lengthy delays have led to their child being adopted before they could mount an appeal. Campaigners are calling for proper sanctions against authorities that fail to meet the 40-day rule.

Second, many care cases rely heavily on the testimony of expert witnesses appointed by the court, but parents are rarely allowed to call another expert in their defence. In the Court of Appeal in 2007 Mr Justice Ryder found that a baby had been wrongly removed from his parents for the first, most formative year of his life, partly because an expert neurologist had been “too absolute”.

Two courts had refused to let the parents seek a second medical opinion. The reforms by Jack Straw will allow parents to pass information about proceedings to outside experts, but it will still be up to the court to decide whether a second opinion may be heard.

Third, continuing reform of the legal aid budget has become a serious threat to justice for the families who need it most. Many barristers and solicitors have already reduced their legal aid work since the Government changed the fee structure. Others have dropped the work altogether, prompting a rapid rise in the number of litigants in person. The latest government proposals for fixed fees for barristers undertaking family legal aid work could leave some of the most vulnerable families without representation. That is not justice.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6188546.ece

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1 Comment »

  1. PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THIS EVERYONE
    ESPECIALLY SOCIAL SERVICES
    Offences Against the Person Act 1861
    Section 56
    Child-stealing.
    Whosoever shall unlawfully, either by force or fraud, lead or take away, or decoy or entice away or detain, any child under the age of fourteen years, with intent to deprive any parent, guardian, or other person having the lawful care or charge of such child of the possession of such child, or with intent to steal any article upon or about the person of such child, to whomsoever such article may belong, and whosoever shall, with any such intent, receive or harbour any such child, knowing the same to have been, by force or fraud, led, taken, decoyed, enticed away, or detained, as in this section before mentioned, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be kept in penal servitude for any term not exceeding seven years . . . F2 or to be imprisoned . . . F3. Provided, that no person who shall have claimed any right to the possession of such child, or shall be the mother or shall have claimed to be the father of an illegitimate child, shall be liable to be prosecuted by virtue hereof on account of the getting possession of such child, or taking such child out of the possession of any person having the lawful charge thereof.]

    Comment by John Brookes — October 25, 2013 @ 12:12 pm | Reply


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