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Mumsnet and the Naughty Step.

I have been contacted by a number of people to ask why I have been put on the naughty step by Mumsnet.

There are a number of online fora in which I debate issues relevant to public policy. One is another one is

On Mumsnet there is poster whose user id is "spero". She happens to be a family court barrister who tweets as SVPhillimore.

She and I have had a few disagreements in the past which are not worth going into. However, I posted the link above (the twitter link) on the mumsnet forum and a couple of other similar twitter links which were linking to the debate. Mumsnet then suspended my account saying:
Hi, John. We're getting in touch as we've received a couple of reports about your posts on the 'child taken from the womb' thread, It is against our talk guidelines ( to post information which would 'out' a poster, as a couple of your posts on here have done due to your posts containing links to posters personal twitter accounts which give their real names. We've had to suspend your account until you get in touch.

Hence I am now indeed "on the naughty step" at mumsnet. Because it is Christmas little has been sorted out about this, but I would expect something to be sorted out. I am continuing to debate issues on netmums as I have done in the past, however.

There has been an additional debate about the content of an Italian court order. The English translation is as follows:
"In the opinion of this Court, the removal of the child from her parent as soon as she was born, as evidenced by the petitioner, and contrary to the opinion of the doctors, combined with the virtually simultaneous involuntary medical treatment involving a caesarean section on the parent by order of a court, poses an irreconcilable conflict with the fundamental rules that protect the rights of the child in matters of adoption. These assert that questions as to whether a child is available for adoption and the subsequent adoption of the child shall be a last resort and assumes, in any case, that the maternal parenting skills have first been tested and this is especially the case where the separation is carried out at a point where the parent is still in precarious condition and stressed by the recent birth. The Court therefore believes that the [UK] court decision can not be recognized on the grounds that it is contrary to the principles set out , which are in regard to adoptions an integral part of public domestic and international order, taking account of the effects that recognition would have on domestic law , as [such recognition] would then justify the permanent discontinuation of the relationship between the child , the mother , the only parent recognized , and other relatives including the two sisters as well as the the maternal grandmother.
A copy of this judgment is sent to the Italian Diplomatic Representation to the UK for feedback and in respect of issues of competence .
I do think this court order is significant because of the strength of its criticisms of the decision in Chelmsford.

As the story has developed people have concentrated on the issue as to what effect alcohol had. In fact the post that caused me to be suspended was one I wrote at 9.35 on a Saturday morning when I was sober without a hangover.


Unknown said…
good evening John.

Nice to see you 'outing' me once again.

I asked you a question on mumsnet. You never replied.

May I ask it again?

Do you feel any remorse at all for naming Alessandra Pacchieri's baby on the internet, in clear breach of a Reporting Restriction Order?
Unknown said…
Hello John, nice to see you 'outing' me once again.

I asked you a question on mumsnet to which you never replied.

May I ask it again here?

Do you feel any remorse at all for naming Alessandra Pacchieri's baby on the internet, in defiance of a Reporting Restrictions Order?
Unknown said…
Would you like to inform your readers as to what else you said on that thread? Interested parties want to know...
John Hemming said…
It is entirely possible for people to look at the thread themselves.
John Hemming said…
As Essex County Council implied it is not clear that the italian court order that I posted in error did contravene any particular law or english court order. There is a complex jurisdictional question that applies here.
Jerry said…
Without wanting to pour more petrol onto the fire, the Baby was named in the Italian Media prior to the reporting restriction order, which, and by further error, when the RRO order was published by the Judiciary it also had the baby's name in place for all to see
Unknown said…
But are you sorry?
Do you regret publishing this baby's name?
Do you understand why the English court didn't think it was a good idea to identify the baby?
TEFL Ninja said…
I think expecting your readers to wade through several mumsne threads is a bit mich to ask. How about I give them a link to a nice tidy synopsis.
Unknown said…
Come off it. You posted the name of the baby on an English forum, together with the names of her siblings. That was a clear breach of the order not to publicise the baby's name, and no amount of fudging can change that.
Judi said…
john may or may not make a mistake. i don't know.

as a survivor of the family court system
mistakes abound there,
i am grateful let john hemming
has the courage

and tenacity to carry on this campaign. all humans make mistakes wouldn't it be great if i was a bit more give and take

within the family court system on all sides

Anonymous said…
As Jerry has pointed out other mistakes have been made by the judiciary and it was only a matter of time before details published by the Italian media would permeate into the UK.. Following the comments on Head of Legal has been an eye-opener and I have referred others to the blog section, not for good reasons but as an example of how key people behave and their views on what must rank as one of the worst abuses of Human Rights. Subsequently I moved onto Mumsnet....which again was an eye -opener. Community Care ran a thread entitled AIMS to see ourselves as others see us ( or words to that effect). The majority of comments were completely oblivious to the published and evidenced criticisms of another profession but there was the occasional social worker who was able to see that the points being made were reasonable and to respond accordingly. The lesson from all this is to take a step back and realise that with the internet there are many more situations where we can be seen and judged.
TEFL Ninja said…
*only a matter of time before details published by the Italian media would permeate into the UK..*

The extract posted by John was not published by the Italin media. Becuase they are bound by Italian privacy laws.

I spoke directly to the president of the tribunale that produced the document that contained the extract John posted on mumsnet (complete with all three childrens names, dates of birth ect). The document has not and will not be made public.

Well.. expect for the bit that John plastered on mumsnet.

You say mistake, I say grave error of judgement which demands the professional making said grave error should be held accountable. Be they a social worker, court employee .... or MP.

But then, my line in the sand doesn't move based on *who* went to the pub and then got loose lipped with confidential legal documents on mumsnet.

Others may find their principles are a little more...flexible.
Jerry said…
"Balancing the scales" the world would be a whole better place if for just once in a while people took that vital one step back and viewed the situation as a whole from another angle, unfortunately human beings were made fallible, no one is perfect, even those who blog in the mannerisms which they have in determining whether John was wrong or right in his approach to this, the focus has been lost on what the keystone to all of this was about, how do the rest of the World think the UK Child Protection system works if the headlines are what they were, I am not just meaning the comments by Christopher Booker, which personally were lackadaisical, but the rest of the worlds media.

everyone is entitled to their own opinion in this country, it's not been taken away from us yet.

Those who lambast John seem to be the ones who refuse to take that all important step back from the issues and address them the most suitable and correct way.

In all the years I have known John, yes, I agree there have been many occasions I have have slapped my forehead screaming D'oh and wanted to clip him round the ear, trust me its into double figures, but then who is to say if he was right or wrong, he is entitled to be both wrong and right, not just as an MP but as a human being.

I had stated above that mistakes had already been made prior to John's comments on Mumsnet,

With such a fallible system in place surrounding not just the Court of Protection and Family Courts but in many many other guises of the Justice system sometimes it does take mistakes and errors made by various outspoken people in order to create the discussions we are having now, if John, or even Christopher Booker come to that had remained silent on the Italian C-Sec. case despite the inaccuracies would we have even known about it, that to me is the bigger and wider issue here, for too long the hurt and suffering by many people on home soil and alien has occurred for simply far too long.

If one would follow President Munby and his Judgements from over the years you will see that while he is steadfast in protecting the innocent and vulnerable he wants to expose the failings of the state and systems, amongst other bodies too, he wants an open and transparent judicial system, we are still back in the dark ages on that though.

In order to have what President Munby wants we would have to face these issues from a stepped back position, it is wrong to test how deep the water is by simply jumping in both feet first.

Despite John's comments which each and everyone can determine for themselves if he is right or wrong, I do not see many other MP's flooding the media, social and other with outcries of injustice, I have met many MP's on my travels and most, one could determine to be wet behind the ears to the injustices that occur and simply turn the other cheek

Jerry said…
On the 10th December the Judiciary published the RRO from Charles J in its entirety, including the Explanatory Notes which included the names of all parties and child, which as it happens only the Media should have been issued with, it was brought to the attention of the Essex Legal Team who then took swift action to seek that the Order was taken down from the Judiciary website and re-published the main Order with the "Explanatory Notes" omitted,

Prior to any RRO on the 2nd December 2013 the Italian Press released an article which can be found on this link,

It however should be noted that although google translate is not perfect in translating the Article

Readers can determine for themselves what is published prior to any RRO being applied for or a granted Contra Mundum

For what it's worth it was me who sought assistance from other notable barristers in highlighting the concerning contents of the published order from the Judiciary which those barristers in turn took immediate action to alert those in Essex's legal department to the fundamental error.

I could be the first one in contempt by publishing the original complete RRO as found on the Judiciary Website, however there was nothing in the order that preventing me from distributing it, it was in the public domain

BoudiccaR said…
Gosh yes Jerry, don't let standards, decency, probity or the rule of law get in the way of arrant self promotion at the expensive of vulnerable children.

Judi said…
We really need to start looking at the broader picture. child protection has been failing for years ,animals get treated better
when children in the care system. animals have a right to have a
suitable environment do children in childrens homes have one?

are the authorities bothered or are they too busy to busy protecting their own backs? a little bit of open mindedness may go a long way.

Unknown said…
No-one claims the system is infallible. The point is that John Hemming really doesn't help by publishing the misleading and alarmist claims that he has done, and he certainly hasn't helped Ms Pacchieri or her children by publishing their names on a public website.

It's no defence to say that someone else made the same mistake. As an MP with a particular interest in this area, John Hemming must know better than most that you simply do not ever publish anything that will identify a vulnerable child. Yet he chose to do so, and still does not apologise for it.
John Hemming said…
>John Hemming must know better than most that you simply do not ever publish anything that will identify a vulnerable child.

As I am sure you know children in care are advertised in newspapers and on websites for adoption.

Unknown said…
Adoption adverts do not give the full name and in fact often use false names.

But as these children weren't being advertised for adoption, that is totally irrelevant, isn't it?
Judi said…
realistically the moment social services intervene everyone in the childs neighborhood knows. there is no confidentiality. when children go into foster care
the other children at school are aware of that. the hypocrisy of the system
is not protecting children and ensuring their welfare into adulthood
Unknown said…
No, Sue, that really doesn't work in this case. This is a baby whom no-one in the neighbourhood knows because her mother doesn't live there, and the older two children actually live in Italy.
Judi said…

i am aware of that i'm just making a more general point. in my area social services run events where any member of the public can come and meet the foster children as long as they express an interest in fostering. So very similar to looking around an animal shelter. Incidently on christmas eve my local paper ran

a good news story. it was about a couple who had just adopted a baby , he was named and there
s a video on the web site. so much for his privacy. it was clearly approved by social services as the article was used as to publicise them.
BoudiccaR said…
So Johm are you prepared to offer an unequivocal apology for having 'inadvertantly' published the names of vulnerable children, protected by law not only in the UK, but also in Italy? Please don't ask your eight year old. I doubt she is old enough to understand the gravity of the issues at stake.
Judi said…
I take it I am supposed to be 8? well you're wrong on a bad day i'm 7 are you elevated me by a year. you're right i don't understand all the issues but i do understand what the care system does to families. i have seen it from all angles, i have had friends have been adopted, i have friends who has been foster carers, i have a relative who had a child taken away from her 50 years ago without a court case and it still affects both that mother and her son now. just a suggestion if you are that worried that mr hemming
maybe in contempt of court why don't you report him to the police?
this is a wild guess but i would bet you're neither about young black male or a working-class woman or andrew mitchell so they should listen to you.

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