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Written Parliamentary Questions: 27th March 2007

Miscarriages of Justice: Family Courts

Q:To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs

(1) which Minister would be responsible for assessing whether systemic miscarriages of justice were occurring in the family courts;

(2) if she will establish a review of family court cases where Dr. David Southall retained a special case file.

A:My right hon. Friend The Lord Chancellor is responsible for supporting the efficient and effective administration of the courts. The judiciary is primarily responsible for guarding against miscarriages of justice and they are entirely independent of the executive. It is open to the parties in an individual case to seek legal advice about the route to appeal if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the case.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills has inquiry-ordering powers in relation to the exercise by local authorities of their children's services functions. In 2004, a review of cases that were before the family courts, and of children where the courts has made care orders (under section 31 of the Children Act 1989) was undertaken by local authorities at the request of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, the results of which were reported to Parliament. There are currently no plans to conduct a review of family court cases in which Dr. David Southall has been involved. (Harriet Harman, Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs)

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