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Pressure placed on witnesses

The linked story is from the Sunday Telegraph and involves social workers in Northumberland pressurising witnesses in Fran Lyon's case. What is unique abount this attempt to pervert the course of justice is that it has been done in a case which is essentially public.

The "culture of consequentialism" means that the ends justify the means. The objective of the local authority is to get the baby. Therefore what is done to achieve this objective is not material as long as they get the baby.

It shocks people when they end up in the Kafkaesque world of the Family Courts. Generally things in the UK do not work this way. However, as a result of the secrecy of the court processes bad practice becomes endemic. This is why people start out really bewildered by the irrational way that the system behaves.

Another thing that happens frequently is presenting people with the need to prove their innocence. It is suggested that something is possible (without any evidence to prove that it is true) participants are than required to prove that it is not true.

That is actually rather difficult even for people who are totally innocent of the allegation. However, if evidence was required for allegations then it would mean people would make less money.

Another variant on this is to keep these allegations out of the formal discussions and merely use them to put pressure on witnesses. That makes it impossible to deal with the allegations because people under investigation don't know what they are.


Sociable said…
Detailed below is my submission to the DRC Agenda website, regarding this issue, which as yet has not been published on their site.

DRC Comment: By Peter Farrington DRC Forum Member.

Picking up on what is perhaps, after the right to life itself, the most fundamental of the human rights which is of course the right to found a family I am alarmed at the lack of comment by the DRC about the recent stories in the press concerning the forced adoption of Fran Lyon's unborn child.

This report reads like something one would expect to only read about in text books detailing how badly the mentally ill and those with learning difficulties were treated in the dim and distant past.


Surely in the post DDA and DED world things like this can't still happen, or can they?

For obvious reasons I can't give details, but I have spent the last year and bit trying to help another young mother who has mild learning difficulties gain the right to at least have a chance to be a full-time mother to her baby, which was placed in care shortly after the birth because of concerns about what "might" happen rather than as a result of anything which had actually happened.

Sadly such cases are becoming all too common and raise serious issues about the application of not only the DDA and DED duty Social Services have to such mothers, but also the mother's fundamental rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act itself.

A model of best practice is available, but rarely used, as detailed in the research paper “Finding the Right Support”, from the Norah Fry Research Centre based at the University of Bristol, which suggests a planned cooperative approach may well lead to successful outcomes in such cases not least for the children involved themselves.

As a qualified social worker who trained in child protection I have to confess I am ashamed of the actions of the social workers in the case I am involved in and for the first time am truly happy I am no longer able to work in such an environment where such lack of respect for the individuals concerned is possible.

In the case I am talking about the only issue is a learning difficulty that is so borderline that the individual concerned does not even qualify for support from Social Services in their own right for that learning difficulty despite having been in care for other reasons for most of her early life.

The point I have made is that her needs for support as a mother and not just as an adult are being completely ignored. If nothing else they owe her such support having taken over responsibility for her as "parents" until she was 18.

The one single thing that defines British justice is that one is presumed innocent until proved guilty, but sadly for those of us with disabilities, and especially where mental health or learning capacity is involved, the sad fact is we are often treated as being guilty until we are proven guilty or as in this situation simply deprived of the possibility of proving our lack of guilt.

Peter Farrington aka "Sociable"

N.B. My own article at the DRC is the one entitled: "Nothing About Us Without Us?"
. said…
Again Mr Hemming you post no evidence for the audience to make their own minds up. I would rather you did not make my mind up for me so please outline your evidence for this case.

I don't trust your judgment.

Dr Rita Pal

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

I have only just found this one which I think is accurately reported below (but if it is not please give me an accurate report).


R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

Here, the magistrates’ clerk retired with the bench when they were considering a charge of dangerous driving. The clerk belonged to a firm of solicitors acting in civil proceedings for the other party to the accident. It was entirely irrelevant that there had been no evidence of actual influence brought to bear on the magistrates, and the conviction was duly quashed.

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