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