The purpose of this update is to correct, clarify and comment on media reports of family court cases, to explain and comment on published Judgments of family cases and to highlight other transparency news.
Media Reports of Family Courts Case and Family Justice Issues
- Court lifts anonymity order in divorce assets case Reported The Times last week in Story of the Week (The Brief). Their earlier headlines included Wife leads fight to keep divorce hearings secret and Britain cannot allow a drift towards secret justice. (Apologies for those who can’t read this and other reports mentioned in Round-Up because they are behind a pay wall). The Daily Mail also reported on Thursday with Divorcee, 53, embroiled in a legal battle with her banker ex-husband over his alleged £1million family fortune loses her anonymity bid.
- Lost childhoods and the excesses of mad officialdom Christopher Booker wrote in the Telegraph on Sunday (pay-wall) about last Fridays apparent family court refusal to make a secure accommodation order in respect of an older child repeatedly running from care to his parents. We hope the judgment will be published, so as to comment in an informed manner on Mr Bookers report. It will fall for publication under Schedule 1 (4) of the Presidents Transparency Guidance, if a written judgment was given or once a transcript is ordered (para 17).
- We still await publication of two key judgments from court of protection and committal proceedings so as to comment meaningfully on Mr Booker’s previous piece discussed here: Why the Court of Appeal released a grandmother imprisoned for disobeying orders of the court of protection.
Both are useful reminders that, whilst publication of appropriately anonymised judgments is just one aspect of transparency, it is a crucial one if incorrect or misleading accounts of family court cases are to be identified and alternative narratives to reach the public.
- Children unnecessarily removed from parents, report claims The Guardian reported on a report by Legal Action for Women entitled Suffer the Little Children and their mothers: A dossier on the unjust separation of children from their mothers. It was launched at an open meeting at the House of Commons on Wednesday called ‘stopping the forced separation of children from their mothers and the privatization of child protection’. The dossier has provoked discussion of its claims and the limits of research by Professor Andy Bilson quoted within it. The Transparency Project (Family Court Reporting Watch) will comment in detail as soon as possible. (There is a brief summary of the Legal Action for Women report at the Marilyn Stowe blog here).
- Betrayed before she was even born: Social workers knew Poppy, who died aged 4, was at risk before her addict mother gave birth. So why ARE they still in jobs? The Daily Mail reported again late last night on the tragic death of Poppy Widdison as her mother was sentenced. This time baying for the social workers to lose their jobs. Blog to follow
- The Sun and the Daily Mail on an apparent negligence claim by a young adult abused in care as a child They report a young adult who has sued Peterborough council for failures by way of inadequate steps to protect her from sexual abuse allegations she made about her foster father aged 6. Blog also to follow on this.
Media reports we found notably balanced, accurate or otherwise helpful to transparency this week
- ‘The Guardian view on family courts: cuts hurt’ usefully urged the government review on ending cross-examination of alleged (or proven) victims/survivors by alleged (or proven) abusers, to engage with the relevant complexity. Including the need to hear different perspectives; lack of evidence about the extent of the problem; judicial efforts to date to address this so far; and systemic reasons behind the problem, including the impact of legal aid cuts.
In other Transparency News
- Twitter suggested that social workers found by a family court to have lied on oath may have been found fit to practise by the HCP. We’ve updated our blog post on this to include information about the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), the Health and Care Professions (HCPC) Publication Guidance and some related reflections from Celtic Knot. The Transparency Project will be writing to the PSA about the transparency aspects and their intended role.
- LASPO Review The government firmed up some detail on the timing and process of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act review via an all-party parliamentary group meeting on legal aid. The Solicitors Journal reported the promise of a ‘post-legislative memorandum on LASPO’ to the justice select committee before May, ahead of ‘a full review of the Act by April 2018’.
- Press Regulation
Reports this week included:
Inforrm reposted Amber Melville-Browns piece from Legal Cheek: Who wants to be a regulator?
And an Ipso press release about an open meeting in Manchester in February
- The Senior Judiciary announced their endorsement of the recommendations of Lord Justice Briggs Lord Justice Briggs final report was published in July 2016 in conclusion of the Civil Courts Structure Review.
And in case you missed this…
What does open justice actually mean by Judith Townend on the Transparency Project blog
Feature image courtesy of Flickr with thanks to Lauri Heikkinen
This post originally appeared on the Transparency Project blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks.