MP advises families to move abroad

Children|Family Law|News|January 14th 2014

Parents who face losing their children in family court proceedings should leave the country, Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has suggested.

Speaking on BBC Panorama, the sometimes controversial MP said he had been in touch with hundreds of parents who had been taken to court after being suspected of harming their children.

He claimed:

“All the cards are held by the local authority. It has large resources to fight the cases – it does all the assessments. My advice to people – if they can afford it – is just to go abroad. You can’t get a fair trial here, because you can’t rely on the evidence being fair. It’s best simply to go if you can, at the right time, lawfully.”

Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said the suggestion was unhelpful and the family court system is focused on the protection of children.

“We can’t play poker with children’s safety, we’ve got to have a system that plays it safe to begin with. I do think we have a responsibility to make our family courts better, to make them more transparent, to build public confidence in them. To advocate leaving altogether doesn’t solve the problem for the vast majority of children and parents who need our courts to be as good as they possibly can be.”

According to Cafcass, local authorities made 10,218 applications to take children into care during 2012, a record number and 11 per cent more than the previous year.

John Hemming is MP for Birmingham Yardley and chair of the Justice for Families Campaign Group.

The episode of Panorama, broadcast last night, investigated “the secretive world of the family courts” and asked “whether some parents may have unfairly lost their children forever.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Tristan says:

    I watched the programme, spellbound. It pointed out case after case where parents had lost their child for ever on the basis of medical misdiagnosis. Reading between the lines it would appear that all the court reports which conveniently provide the evidence base for these findings of non-accidental injury are possibly coming from a single medical source. It could be just one doctor-expert possibly who is behind it all. That is a real worry and one which needs to be investigated further. I hope investigative journalists will keep digging further and reveal the credentials of this so-called expert. So far the name or names are kept secret despite other doctors coming out openly and saying there is possible or probable injustice going on here and that the cause of the broken bones is rickets and not child abuse. The courts are refusing to re-open cases where it can be confidently surmised that the children were suffering from rickets which would explain their bone injuries. It seems these poor parents have no legal remedy.

    We have already seen with doctors like Meadows and Southall how their enthusiasm for making findings of abuse against parents led to literally hundreds of parents being misdiagnosed as cases of Munchausen syndrome. The GMC needs to come clean here because there could possibly be injustice going on here on an industrial scale as happened with Meadows and Southall.

    It seems the approach of UK family courts to public law matters is just as scandalous as it is in private law cases.
    John Hemmings is right to advise parents to flee rather than face UK family injustice.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hemmings is indeed right. Some say this is the worst country to have a child in all of Europe. There is no future for children here. Everything to do with raising children in the UK is just sub-standard and embarrassing, starting with all the legislation around family and separation. The minute that a politician starts pledging to change this dismal state of affairs, rather than thinking always about how to profit from them, they will have my vote.

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