THIS IS THE SITUATION (As at January 2009)
1: There really are SECRET COURTS in the UK. 215 MPs of all parties signed the “early day motion” below.
That this House urges the Government to remove the veil of secrecy from the workings of the Children Act 2004; considers that the closed door policy of the family courts breeds suspicion and a culture of secrecy which does nothing to instil confidence in those using them, which affects not just the courts but the social services departments of local authorities; and believes that it is possible to preserve the anonymity of children involved in the proceedings without the cumbersome rules which obstruct parents from receiving advice and support, which in particular works to the disadvantage of parents with special learning difficulty.
2: These courts take children from loving parents who have committed no crime. There are of course parents who brutalise and even torture or kill their children but such parents rarely go to court to recover their children; they stay as far away from courts as they possibly can! Common sense surely tells us that parents who care for their children enough to keep fighting for them in numerous very painful court actions ought to stand a good chance of winning them back. The sad fact is however that although judges often severely criticise social services in court they nearly always end up cautiously finding for the local authority and against the emotionally distraught parents. Parents are regularly condemned by “establishment judges” for neglecting their children, abusing them physically (or more often emotionally) not “beyond reasonable doubt” but “on the balance of probabilities”!
Lord Denning defined this in Miller versus Ministry of Pensions as “more probable than not”Statistically,this means that the judge has at least a 51% chance of being right and probably at best 70% chance of being right so at least 30% of all forced adoptions were wrong and families split up on mere “hearsay” (statements by social workers and other persons, not in court and who could not be questioned). Wicked deeds violating parent’s basic human rights!
3: These parents lose their children for ever to adoption by strangers. The children adopted are refused access to records of their birth parents or siblings at least until they are 18, and usually for the rest of their lives.
4: Parents are GAGGED and regularly sent to prison in secret proceedings if they reveal what went on in court.
Harriet Harman (Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs) Hansard source
My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point, which she has put to me in a written question, so I know what the answer is. Last year something like 200 people were sent to prison by the family courts, which happens in complete privacy and secrecy. The idea that people are sent to prison without any reports of the proceedings makes even more important the work that we are undertaking with the family courts.
5: Establishment judges make decisions to take thousands of babies for risk of possible future emotional abuse.
Extract from The Times, Aug 23 2007: “Emotional abuse” has no strict definition in British law. Yet it now accounts for an astounding 21 per cent of all children registered as needing protection, up from 14 per cent in 1997. Last year 6,700 children were put on the child protection register for emotional abuse, compared with only 2,600 for sexual abuse and 5,100 for physical abuse. Both of the latter two categories have been falling steadily. Meanwhile emotional abuse and “neglect” – which replaced the old notion of “grave concern” in 1989 – have been rising. Both are catch-alls. But emotional abuse is especially vague. It covers children who have not been injured, have not complained, and do not come under “emotional neglect”.
6: No jury would take babies from mothers because some expert made predictions of their future behaviour.
Extract from The Sunday Times, Nov 18th 2007: A review is still going on of 700 cases in which bogus forensic scientist Gene Morrison gave evidence. Morrison, 48, from Manchester who was sentenced to five years for fraud in February, admitted he pretended to be an expert witness and bought his qualifications on the internet because it “seemed easier” than getting real ones.
For many of the genuinely qualified experts, legal work is a lucrative sideline, and if they are perceived to be able to “tailor” their evidence convincingly, the commissions keep flowing in. John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP campaigning about the misuse of medical evidence, says fees for a basic written opinion, based on reading through existing files, start at £4,000. If the expert concludes there is a case to answer, they attract court attendance fees as well.
“I have known experts get as much as £28,000 for one report,” said Hemming, who is lobbying for experts to be required to produce the scientific publications on which their opinion is based: “Unless we start using evidence-based evidence in court, we will get nowhere.”
7: Criminals facing 6+ months in prison can demand a jury; parents losing their children for life cannot.
8: Carefully selected pregnant mothers with vulnerable backgrounds but often with no criminal records or disabilities are told their babies will be taken at birth! Equally carefully selected are the “expert” psychiatists and psychologists who regularly “work” with the family courts and are eager to practice their latest “psychobabble theories”. They are therefore only too willing to earn their generous fees and diagnose nearly every unfortunate mother presented to them by social services with a”borderline personality disorder” or to report that she “represents a risk of emotional abuse” to her children. Sometimes they will even diagnose a really hostile mother as “unfit” to instruct a solicitor! “The Official Solicitor” is then appointed for her! He will inevitably agree with everything the local authority demands and will refuse to let the aggrieved mother say a word! The result in nearly all these cases is that babies and quite often all the other children from the same families are taken into care for eventual adoption by strangers.
9: Local authorities are rewarded by central government for reaching “adoption targets” hence adoption is prioritised.
10: Fosterers get up to £400/week/ child, special schools up to £7,000/week/child, adoption agencies, experts lawyers all cash in lavishly!
SO: What to do? – Stop the secrecy and the gagging of parents forced to remain anonymous and unable to complain under their own names.
- Stop adoptions of children for emotional abuse or for “risk”, and open adoption records to children already adopted.
- Stop judges deciding cases of long term fostering or adoption, and give juries the final decision. Better still abolish forced adoption altogether!
- Stop excessive rewards for those who live off the misery caused by this wicked system!
This would be a very very good start!