Skip to main content

Letter in The Times

The Times have published a letter I wrote to them about Expert Witnesses and family court proceedings today. It is behind the paywall so I will copy it here: Sir, Andrew Christie is right in seeing the low quality of expert evidence as being a problem. However, the experts are already appointed by the parties jointly to a case. This results in them acting as the hired guns of the local authorities because of the inequality of arms that arises from the imbalance of power in the cases.

A simple way of reducing cost would be to remove the guardian ad litem and simply commission an independent social worker report. This would substantially reduce the legal costs and improve the quality of decision-making at the same time (as research recently published by Dr Julia Brophy shows).

What, however, is crucial is to allow wider scrutiny of the quality of expert opinions. It is still contempt of court for me as an MP to refer an expert to a regulator. The idea that family court experts themselves should be allowed to regulate the quality, as suggested by Judith Freeman, is risible. In the case of Lucy Allan (Camilla Cavendish, Opinion, Apr 12) the same expert gave two separate and contradictory opinions on the same person. Once for the local authority without meeting the mother and once privately when she did meet the mother. This should not be tolerated.

It is my assessment that of the order of 1,000 children a year are still being wrongly adopted because of the unreliability of the judicial process, caused mainly by the unreliability of the evidence. Because this happens mainly to poorer families their pain is not heard. My conclusions from studying many forms of secret court proceedings are that the greater the amount of judicial secrecy, the greater the tolerance of malpractice (such as reports written by psychologists who don’t meet the subject of the report). Part of the solution has to be to increase the amount of independent scrutiny.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Statement re false allegations from Esther Baker

Statement by John Hemming
I am pleased that the Police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me and that the allegations had no substance whatsoever.
I would like to thank Emily Cox, my children, Ayaz Iqbal (my Solicitor), my local lib dem team and many others who supported me through this dreadful experience. There are many worse things that happen to people, but this was a really bad experience.
It is bad enough to have false allegations made about yourself to the police, but to have a concerted campaign involving your political opponents and many others in public creates an environment in which it is reasonable to be concerned about ill founded vigilante attacks on your family and yourself. Luckily there was a more substantial lobby to the contrary as well, which included many people who were themselves real survivors of abuse, which has helped.
I am normally someone who helps other people fight injustice. …

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).

KING’S BENCH DIVISION

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.

LORD HEWART CJ:
It is clear that the deputy clerk was a member of the firm of solicitors engaged in the conduct of proceedings for damages against the applicant in respect of the same collision as that which gave rise to the charge that the justices were considering. It is said, and, no doubt, truly, that when that gentleman retired in the usual way with the justices, taking with him the…

Service launched to reduce the pain of calling a call centre.

Click here to try the beta test call entre phoning service"John Hemming, who has created an internet Startup called Cirrostratus since he ceased being an MP, is launching a free online service to make life easier for people phoning call centres.   The service is provided by Cirrostratus, but the SIP backbone is provided by the multi-award winning business VoIP solution, Soho66." John said, "Many people find phoning call centres a real pain.  Our service is aiming to make things a lot easier.   One click on alink or the bookmarks list and our server will phone up the call centre and get through all the menus.  This is a lot faster than when people have to phone up and is less irritating." "Additionally the system uses WebRtc and the internet to make the call. This means that people don't find their normal phone system being blocked whilst they hang on the line waiting to speak to a human being." Marketing Manager from Soho66, David McManus, said: &q…