About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Camilla Cavendish

With The secret state that steals our children Camilla Cavendish of the Times launched a series of articles on the family justice system in the Times. The very title rather gives the game away that this is not going to be an objective or analytical piece. On the one hand the lack of knowledge displayed in the article about care proceedings might itself be an argument for greater access to the family courts. On the other hand the inaccurate reporting of matters which are in the public domain hardly inspires confidence in the accuracy of any reporting by her of actual court cases. She starts off with a description of a mother whose child has ended up in the care of her father whom mother believed was a sexual abuser. She asserts that the case (which ended up as a care case) started off as many do as a custody battle. In my experience, the vast majority of care proceedings do not start in this way although there are, of course, care cases which do and care cases where they have previously been private law proceedings. In talking of the particular case she comments on a psychologist who commented on the video interview of the child, concluding that the child had been coached by the mother. He had never met the mother, never appeared in court and who was not cross-examined by mother's representative. I do appreciate that Ms Cavendish is limited in what she can report and probably has only been told one side of the story. However, she does not even seem to consider the obvious possibilities. It might be true that the mother coached the child. There might have been other evidence to support this than the mere opinion of the psychologist. It might have been a bit more subtle than that. The mother may have jumped to conclusions. Even if she did not coach the child or jump to conclusions, it might not be true that the child was abused. The child might be lying or confused or upset with the father or have got the idea off television or a friend or all of the above. If there was no other evidence than the comments made by the child, it may have been very difficult for the court to make a finding on the balance of probabilities that the child had been abused. There may have been a good reason why the psychologist was not cross-examined. I accept that I am speculating. So is Camilla Cavendish. The difference is that she seems to accept the tales she is told by parents without any degree of respectful uncertainty. If one looks at this story with the eyes of the accused father it might be just as easy to get outraged on his behalf if he were to be found to have abused a child on the basis of inadequate evidence. In subsequent posts I will make more detailed comments about the particular issues she raises.

At the end of the series she makes some perfectly sensible suggestions for improvements in the system. Unfortunately even these suggestions are predicated on some inaccurate assumptions about what happens at the moment. Her first call is for open access to the courts by the media. The Times has recently succeeded in persuading the Court of Appeal in Medway v G to lift media restrictions in a particular case about which Camilla Cavendish has written. A great deal about the court's view of the actions of the local authority in that case can be deduced from the fact that there is not one word of criticism of the actions of the lower courts or the local authority in relation to the care proceedings whereas the account of Ms Cavendish is described as 'highly partisan'.

9 comments:

Rosie said...

Can I ask if anyone family lawyers have ever tried to speak to Ms Cavendish or answer her criticisms in the public arena, particularly as she now has a Private Eye award for investigative journalism?

Anonymous said...

i am gutted that in my case the father was proven with concrete evidence and wittness to have influenced our child against the mother what is emotionally damaging, it has been proven that he has comited crime, legal aid fraud and fabircated evidence to pervert the course of justice and also lied under the oath, and I wish i can speak and show evidence of that to the world but sorry we have secret courts and am gagged and can not show you evidence that the judge did not wish to even read evidence against the father and with no concious gave custody to father backing cafcass officer working 3 days a week for 30 000 where it has been found that cafcass officer contradicted herself on wittness stand, just so to diverge posibility of appeal as if you complain against officer next minute you will have care order in your hands mastered in non recorded interviews and meetings. I detest any person criticising any one who is putting their job on line to save children in this country speculating wether they have seen evidenc eor not (fact is probably yes but can not say this as they would get themselves and parent inprisoned) for pure reason that children are psychologicaly damaged every day in front of eyes of thier own parents by process where parents are guilty untill proven innoncent and when parent is proven gulity is treated as innocent. i suggest you first come and wear my shoes and then speak against camilla and 'theory of probability and no evidence'. there is evidence of many judges comitting crime and are never punished , there is evdience of cafcass and psychologysts and others involved caught in lying and sorts and never ever you hear they were repremanded even when evidence of that lying is presented in court, so now tell me again camilla is 'believeing stories without proof', she would surely be stupid to write for years and get awards and than not see evdience before writing story. the fact his her profession is gaged by threat of solicitos and suing her destroying her life and life of her own chidlren and so are parents who could otherwise evidence so many things that as of gagging can not be written. i wish some of the power of sheer ingnorance can be turned in getting truth and justice done by using time and skills to free parents and children of this country. just never ever mention 'innocent without evidence' as i was guilty without evidence and ex was innocent even with proof of guilt. come and see my evidence when i get to speak to camila myself soon. also please start googling on people stories via judgements as they will open your eyes also as soon as you start talking to real people with their real stories. eventualy you will see that camila was speaking sense and truth.
i am asking just one thing...why does cafcass officer and psychologist refuse videoing of aleged conversaions with kids, why you get to be always on your own and they come mainly in two, and why not have two or three independent specialist (one by government, one by parents and one independet) do session with same child and video it and then compare notes....you will find that after some time of knowing those specialist as people they have based their profesisonal opinion on predjudice of their own and will not say same thing. The other problem is 'how you prove predjudice. I guess by tracking their casess and reports and finding patern in the, but we do not have tax payers agency to be the watch dog of them, do we?, or to watch cafcass or judges, we have no independent body to show evidence to and get those destroying our children paying for it. once when they do wrong and you get them to admit they did the answer is 'sorry it's too late' but when you try to prevent them from doing wrong they tell you 'it did not happen yet, you are paranoid'.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, excellant point. They haven't as they know they are guilty and can not lie openly in public and risk being caught.

Yes, she got reward and that is to say we can trust her, those who don't I call them abusers and ignorant people who have secrets in their own closet and own homes when own partners and children.

laurence said...

OMG! The anonymous post which starts ''I am gutted that in my case''
Sounds like I wrote it myself!
I am still ongoing in proceedings and have absolute documentary evidence that the father has continuously perjured himself and continues to do so. I have evidence cafcass are incompetent and that they also change their protocol to fit the story for the parent they ''prefer''.
I would like anonymous to please write to me as I am now going to go to the UK media to blow the lid of the so called 'British Justice system'' which is dishonest biased and corrupt. I am prepared to be held in contempt of court. I was gagged twice in 2009 at The High Court for suggesting I was going public with what happened in my case.
Serious breaches of The Hague convention by a High court judge after the father abducted our son cross border.
Serious incompetence of judges in the family court after they refused to hear evidence from the child that the father was terrifying him and that he was forced to tell lies. They said to bring it into court would ''breach the child’s confidentiality'' even though both side agreed the child expressed his fear of the father and that he was made to lie.

After the ruling that the father could keep my son (rewarding abductors) I went through the family court division at the high Court (ongoing). My child after a contact with me his mother broke down and begged to stay with me. I called SS to document, they refused saying ''they couldn’t get involved''. I made an ex parte application The High Court where my son was interviewed by cafcass. My son told the cafcass categorically that he was made to tell lies and that he want to ''go home to my mother''. He told them ''I shake in bed at night I’m so afraid''. cafcass went back into the judge and said. ‘‘Yes he said he told lies, he wants to be with his mother, that The Hague ruling was a mistake and he wants to go home''. Cafcass were asked for their recommendation. They recommended
‘‘He be returned to the father as he is the parent most likely to set boundaries''. The judge ordered the return that day. My son was then dragged screaming for me from the principle registry in London back to the father. Cafcass also recommended I have absolutely no contact for the next months as both mother and child needed ''a cooling off period''. Since then my child is terrified to speak out as the father was informed of everything my son confided in cafcass about him.
How can cafcass say they listen to children one minute when it’s in the manipulative parents corner yet when a child ''begs and screams'' to go home and tells he had to'' lie'' because he was afraid of the father, then say the child is ''just a child'' and needs ''boundaries'' and needs to go back to the parent that abducted him after this child had resided for 12 years with the mother since birth.? Before the cafcass officer gave his recommendation he held up a photocopy of an article that a friend of a friend wrote about the disgusting errors in my case. This article was posted on the Telegraph online. The cafcass officer said ''here is an article which THE MOTHER posted on the internet, SS sent it to me!!!!!!I stood up and said it had nothing to do with me and had nothing to do with his recommendation. So what's going on here????? We know, but we need to expose it! The telegraph were ''threatened'' to remove the article and the person that wrote it was also ''threatened''.
(Journalists wanting to see mails and evidence of this and other significant corruption please contact me)

contd in part2

laurence said...

part 2

What amazes me is every time I go into court the judge will say ''oh there is sooooo much paper work, I haven’t had time to read all this'' ''what are your recommendations cafcass? So even the judges are not doing their job because they can’t cope! So they pass the buck to cafcass to make the rulings’ ‘WHY ARE JUDGES NOT DOING THEIR WORK? WHY ARE THEY PASSING THE DECISIONS ABOUT OUR CHILDRENS FUTURES AND ABOUT OUR LIVES TO OFFICERS OF AN AGENCY THAT HAS BEEN FOUND TO BE TOTALLY INCOMPETANT BY OFSTED? WHY ARE JUDGES GIVING THE POWER OF JUDGEMENT TO UNTRAINED CAFCASS OFFICERS? ARE THEY TRAINED IN LAW? NO! ARE THEY QUALIFIED CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS? NO! ARE THEY READING ALL THE PAPERWORK? NO! ARE THEY INVESTIGATING PARENTS THAT PERJURE THEMSELVES? NO! ARE THEY DELIBERATLEY IGNORING OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ABOUT MANIPULATION, PERJURY AND ABUSIVE HISTORY? YES! ARE THEY CONSTANTLY ON HOLIDAY, LAZY INCOMPETANT AND HAVE A COMMON TENDENCY TO LIE? YES! ARE THEY ANSWERABLE? NO? WHY NOT?

incidentally, at the time of the abduction and the start of proceedings, as a defence the father made allegations (TYPICAL)about my parenting and my child’s life with me, social services conducted a full section 47 report and found me to be a ''protective element''. The father on the other hand is already known to social services where his child from a previous marriage was placed on the ''at risk register'' due to his emotional and physical abuse. All documented with SS and a senior well known in the courts child psychiatrist, yet All this was IGNORED by cafcass and the court. cafcass said it has ''nothing to do with this case''. The funniest thing is the child (a girl) that was abused by the father of my child was then placed in my care in 2005 by the child adolescent mental health services’ ‘because she was going to be ''taken into care'' the father was called a ''toxic parent''. I looked after this teenager for three years till the abduction. In which time she was treated for PTSD and chronic depression as a result of the father. Today she is a happy healthy young woman and refers to me as ''mummy''.
The father also failed to pay UK court ordered maintenance and school fees for the past 8 years, yet I maintained (and more) the rigorous transatlantic contact order for 8 years and paid 3 return flights per annum to enable good and healthy contact! The father now has cut off all contact and continues to obstruct contact between me and my son. He even control any mails or letters sent and the child does not get them, ALL IGNORED by the court and cafcass. All obstruction supported and ignored by cafcass! Even the school is now in on this obstruction! ( I sent a letter to the school for my son’s birthday, the guardian was mailed and called ask to make sure my son received it, my son to this day never got it! even though my best friend delivered it by hand to the school and the guardian was informed of this on the day. I sent it in an open plastic folder, so everyone could see the content! My son to this day four months later, he never received it even though they gave him the card from my best friend that accompanied it! WHY? Why are the school now saying it ''was a mistake’’? So even the school participate in this conspiracy! I wrote to the guardian about this and to date since October have never had a response! Oh guess what she’s been on holiday since before Christmas and doesn’t return till Jan 11th! This is a bloody CHILDS GUARDIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!And we had to wait 7 weeks for her to get onboard!

laurence said...

Advice for parents subject to similar corruption
1, keep a timeline of everything

2, make sure you make a paper trail by mails and letters so you have documentary evidence to show in court later if you want to expose them.

3, If you have documentary evidence to prove perjury in court by either cafcass, the other parent or witnesses, go to the police and ask the police to pursue prosecution for perjury.

4 ask your lawyers to get copies of transcriptions of what has been said in court. Get copies for you. This can be very revealing when you hear what cafcass and parents say in court with regard to perjury when you need it at a later date.

5 tell cafcass you will be recording your interviews with them for the record and DO IT! If you do it surreptitiously you can’t use it in court later. But useful for an undercover TV program!!!!!!!!!!!

4, be very careful who you show court paperwork to! This can be classed as contempt of court, don’t give them any PROOF that you are in contempt!

5, ask a local journalist to accompany you to court to document hearings if you suspect lies and corruption. (The law permits that now, supposedly) if the journalist is refused entry ask the court (so it’s on the court transcription) to declare why the entry has been refused, then make sure the journalist writes about this.

Take comfort you are not alone!
Use that negative pain energy positively!
DONT GET MAD GET EVEN!


REGARDS

Anonymous said...

Yes Cafcass and the like are idiots. They do not undertake proper investigations believing only what is most likely the easiest way to deal with things completely regardless of what is actually happening. We are powerless to change the system and to employ people who will challenge what is going on, and of course, to undertake a full and proper investigation of the matter i.e. witnesses to events. Simply put, they have "no balls".

Children will continue to be at great risk and lives lost.

saphy222 said...

This has to come to a head at some point, they surely can't take children on these terms indefinately. Somewhere along the line, it will be blown wide open because the children they are taking and leaving open to abuse in the 'care' system, will grow up and speak out. I currently have a problem and don't know what to do about it. Two of my grandchildren are being abused by a foster carer. How do we get them moved? Social worker keeps saying, oh no, they're ok where they are, I spoke to them...gggrrr and the kids are getting more and more angry every week.
Can we take court action to get them moved?

saphy222 said...

As for Camilla, at least she had the balls to ask questions and meet real people. Don't sit there at your desk and pull apart actual work other people have done. Come to court with us and see if you think it's made up. It's all too real, Social Services have gone power crazy, and are taking children from all walks of life, for all kinds of pathetic reasons. Guess what, lawyers have lost their children too. This Lamb Report on Social Services, he is a typical judge, sat at a desk and read through the cobwebs and came to conclusions, gave powers to people who went crazy and 'ran' with it. Type in a search engine, Social Services stole my children, 17 million hits..is that the truth, or a lie?...
It has to stop, start helping parents and children. Keep families together, no one can love you like your Mum/family.