Father fined after mother’s holiday with children

News|May 7th 2015

A Berkshire man with no access to his children has been fined after his ex-partner took them on holiday.

Charlene Megraw, the children’s mother, had taken their children to Scotland during term time without informing the school. When they returned and told classmates and teachers about their holiday, the school took action, issued penalty notices and the parents were taken to court.

Mr Allen objected to the fine as he had previously been banned from contacting his children following his separation from Miss Megraw. In his appeal against the decision, he claimed that he had no knowledge of the holiday. At the Reading Crown Court, Judge Ian Grainger expressed “some sympathy with Mr Allen”, but he ultimately upheld the original decision as it was “an offence of strict liability”:  a matter for which someone can be held liable even if they are not specifically at fault.

Under regulations implemented by Education Secretary Michael Gove, parents are ‘strictly’ liable for any of their children’s unexcused absences from school. As the children’s father, Mr Allen was therefore legally responsible despite his lack of control over the situation.

Prior to these new rules, a head teacher could grant up to ten days leave for holidays. Now, time off during a school term is only allowed for “exceptional circumstances” such as bereavements.

Mr Allen called the justice system “a complete joke”. He added that it was “absolutely mad” that he could be punished for something he had no control over.

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  1. Dr. Nigel Miles says:

    This goes to illustrate how vacuous such laws areon parental responsibility. Parental parity will end such nonsense and it’s about time responsible voters took action to remedy this in Parliament.

  2. Yvie says:

    Fathers can find themselves with their hands tied post-separation regarding contact with their children. If they are denied control, how can they be held accountable? It’s a bit like the CSA – apparently non-resident fathers are responsible for all mistakes, including those made by the CSA.

  3. Pete says:

    Just goes to show that politicians and judges haven’t got the common sense they were born with !

  4. Luke says:

    ‘Judge Ian Grainger expressed “some sympathy with Mr Allen”‘

    Some sympathy ??? SOME !!!!

    I have ‘some sympathy’ with the idea that the Judge should find alternative employment from today.

  5. Nordic says:

    This judgement is so crazy, it had me laugh out loud. However, no doubt the poor Mr. Allen will struggle to see the funny side in a justice system that penalises him for events the system itself had barred him from having any control over. This is straight out of a book by Franz Kafka.

  6. Bolchedik says:

    pete, this has little to do with judges having no common sense. it has to do with the common (as in stupid) sense of only being able to see things in terms of economics and politics. we live in an excessively patriarchal state that treats women as infants and dependents, not responsible for their actions, and therefore not punishable. this is why women do not go to prison for crimes. but someone somewhere must be responsible. if the punitive state cannot find a father or ex-husband to bugger, it will probably look for a brother or uncle.

    the hypocrisy is that the state only seems to allow for financial dependency on the male gender. it doesn’t allow for the idea that someone somewhere might be a dependent on a male for other reasons than money.

  7. Luke says:

    One thing I should add is respect to Marilyn Stowe for allowing this story to be put up on her website.
    She must know that this kind of decision brings our system into disrepute and shows it in a very bad light – but she still put this story and a number of other contentious judgements up too. As someone who strongly disagrees with Marilyn on a number Family Law issues I think doing this is greatly to her credit, a lot of websites I go to have a very tightly controlled message that pushes just their own point of view.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Luke
      Thanks for your comments. I am happy to publish anyone’s comments provided they are not simply using the blog as a platform for abuse.
      As you know I have my own opinions about family law and the issues which are featured and which I know are not always shared by readers or indeed other writers for the blog but this is a genuinely open forum and I really do welcome all comments and opinions.

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