Vicky Haigh - judgments published
The recent judgments have now been published in the Vicky Haigh case Doncaster v Haigh
and Doncaster v Watson
I am not going to comment specifically on the Watson case.
I have always had and remain to have three concerns about the issues relating to Vicky Haigh. The first two were public.
Firstly, I was concerned that there was an attempt made to jail her for talking at a meeting in parliament. The meeting was one at which Anthony Douglas was answering questions and I was chairing. She asked a question of Anthony Douglas. When she asked this question she did not name herself, her daughter or her ex-husband. However, this was used by Doncaster as a reason why she should be imprisoned. She did name Doncaster.
I have some great difficulty with this from a constitutional perspective. The First Amendment to the US Constitution is specific about people's right to petition government. In the US that has been considered to involve all three estates of the constitution. In asking a question at the meeting I chaired Ms Haigh was petitioning the legislature and the government (Anthony Douglas is the Chief executive of a government agency).
It is really worrying if people are threatened with jail for complaining. It is even more worrying if they are threatened with jail for simply naming the bodies they are complaining about without identifying themselves.
This right is actually in the UK constitution in Article V of the English Bill of Rights. It refers to the Monarch, but in essence the Monarch is the whole of the state."That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;"
Back in the late 1600s and early 1700s parliament used to act to protect people against whom action was taken or threatened for petitioning parliament - even if a formal petition had not been written. I think it should do so again.
Secondly, the authorities were threatening to take Vicky's baby at birth. I do not think that was a reasonable threat to make.
Thirdly, Vicky should have a right to appeal the original fact finding decision. Wall P (the judge dealing with these two hearings) makes an issue of the fact that she has not yet made an application for permission to appeal the decisions.
One thing Justice for Families does is to help people do is to make appeals (which starts with an application for permission to appeal). It was the case that Vicky's lawyers told her she could not appeal. It is still the case that she is being prevented from appealing - simply because her lawyers are refusing to give her her case file - claiming that they need to keep the file so that the LSC will pay them.
Hence there is nothing that can be read into the fact that no application for permission to appeal has been made yet.