The mother who went into hiding with her son has been called “utterly irresponsible” by a Family Court judge.
In a judgment published shortly after Rebecca Minnock turned herself in, His Honour Judge Wildblood also condemned the woman’s family for their attempts to “manipulate the press to their advantage”.
This story has been the focus of much media scrutiny, but the reports have primarily focused on the mother. As the judge explained, this is because the father “has not at any time embarked on anything like the publicity stunt in which the mother’s family has engaged”.
Despite the media focus on the mother, it is important that we not forget how this has affected the father. They have been dragged into this mess by the selfish actions of the mother. As the judge explained, the father launched proceedings because “it was necessary for him to assert his right to a relationship with his child”.
In response, the mother made some very serious allegations against him in an attempt to deny him that relationship. Every single one of those allegations turned out to be untrue. The ensuing mess put both father and son under a spotlight that neither of them asked for.
Judge Wildblood quite rightly said that it was “simply unfair for a party to attempt to use the press in an attempt to deny another person justice”. Not only that, he added that it was “absurd for anyone to try to ‘play the press’ in that way, because that inevitably backfires”. I think it is safe to say that has happened. While I am sure the mother still has some support among the public, most people recognise her actions for what they were: a “publicity stunt”.
Judge Wildblood asked the press and the public not to speculate about what would happen to the child now he and his mother have emerged from hiding. It would be “thoroughly irresponsible and incorrect” to suggest that Ms Minnock will be limited to either supervised or “indirect contact”, he said. Indirect contact would mean that the mother cannot have any face to face time with her son and would be limited to letters, phone calls and other forms of communication such as Skype.
In family law, the best interests of children are the paramount concern. The judge said that the best interests of this child cannot be established “until the case has been heard fully and properly”.
Now that all the parties are accounted for, a decision can be made as to what will happen to the mother and more importantly, to the child and this whole sorry state of affairs can come to a conclusion. Personally, I think the sooner this is resolved, privately, the better it will be for everyone. Especially the boy. He has gone through an ordeal which no child should, so it is my profound wish that he is able to get back to some semblance of normalcy as privately and quickly as possible. Hopefully now with strict supervision from a senior judge and a higher court, the media glare will fade as fast as it began.
To read the full judgment, click here.