Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2007

Election Results: Thursday 30th August 2007.

Epping Forest DC, Loughton Alderton BNP 393 (32.2; -5.4), Residents 367 (30.1; +1.0), Con 163 (13.3; -3.1), LD Neil Woollcott 172 (14.1; +10.5), Lab 98 (8.0; -5.2), UKIP 28 (2.3; +2.3). Majority 26. Turnout 36.7%. BNP hold. Last fought 2006. Isle of Wight UA, Newport North Con 207 (35.5; -3.0), LD Liam Verstraeten 189 (32.4; +3.9), Lab 137 (23.5; -9.5), UKIP 25 (4.3; +4.3), Ind 23 (3.9; +3.9), Ind 2 (0.3; +0.3). Majority 18. Turnout 30.0%. Con hold. Last fought 2005. Stroud DC, Nailsworth Con 857 (44.5; +6.1), Green 810 (42.0; +4.1), Lab 261 (13.5; +0.2), [LD (0.0; -5.1)], [UKIP (0.0; -5.3)]. Majority 47. Turnout 38.0%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Habeus Corpus Precedents

Althouh we haven't had to use these yet we have now got some draft precedents for applying for Habeus Corpus. Whether they will result in a retrial is another issue. As an absolute minimum there should be a public pronouncement of the sentence. (see link)

Secret Imprisonment

There is a case in Cambridge today where it is proposed that a certain woman be imprisoned. She will be requesting an open hearing. It would be wrong for her to be locked up in secret. I am going to visit a Law Library this afternoon to find the precedents for an application for a writ of Habeas Corpus so that we can get her released if she is imprisoned unlawfully (in secret).

The Munch Bunch in the North East

This story (see link), This leader and this story jointly demonstrate the way in which the Family Courts accept basically irrational arguments. We are aware of a large number of babies being taken into care in the North East. What is not clear is the reasoning. We know that some were "munched" by the system. The advantage Fran has is that this is at an early stage where she can fight the system openly. She, of course, would be gagged as soon as the issue goes to court. I think this one that can be won.

The Rule of Person vs the Rule of Law - Gang Culture

Human beings tend to operate on the basis of the "rule of person". This is not that nice an environment as it depends upon the good will of the person involved. What developed in the UK was that the King first had to operate in accordance with a system of rules in dealing with the Barons (Magna Carta). Then generally the role of the King as a strong state developed into the separation of the estates. If we ignore the fact that the Family Division has a tendency to work on the basis of who likes whom (mainly in the lower courts although I have seen it in the High Court as well) rather than law we can assume that the courts operate on the basis of the rule of law. In the absence of the rule of law, however, we devolve back into the "rule of person". I am not sure what the reasoning was behind the liverpool shooting, but most shootings are gang related. Gangs operate mainly on the basis of the rule of person - the gang leader. To be protected in an enviroment where

Comment is Free - Guardian - comments closed

The Guardian kindly invited me to write for their blog area which I did (it is linked). Because they couldn't moderate such a legally sensitive area over the weekend they have shut down comments. One by someone with a pseudonym "niceday99" is well informed and deserves a proper response - to the technical points made. As I understand it, you're basically suggesting that the adoption system of 1999 was doing just about ok, albeit pretty borderline, but that the introduction of an adoption target overloaded it. But why was it "creaking" in the first place? Was it a case of lack of proper checks and balances, or was it simply a funding issue? It is the failure of the proper checks and balances rather than funding Adoption is an expensive process and the number of adoptions will be limited by the resources available to purchase and support adoptive placements. In other words, give local authorities more money to fund this (up front cash, not paying by results b

Election Results: Thursday 23rd August 2007.

Suffolk CC, Thedwastre South LD Penny Otton 927 (41.8; +7.5), Con 833 (37.5; -9.4), Green 287 (12.9; +12.9), Lab 88 (4.0; -14.8), UKIP 85 (3.8; +3.8). Majority 94. Turnout 32.4%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2005 Havering, Squirrels Heath: Conservative 1828 Havering Residents Association 310 Labour 210 National Liberal Party, the Third Way 170 UKIP 134

Today's Face the Facts on Radio 4 12.30pm

BBC Times Times Comment Guardian PA Story Face the facts today at 12.30pm has some new material including a whistleblower who has been a senior social worker and confirms in essence that the thesis I have argued is true. On the back of this PA sent out a news story which has gone verbatim into about 30 local papers such as The Lancashire Evening Post I did an embargoed press release as well The Department for Children Schools and Families were slammed today by John Hemming MP for being disingenuous about the adoption targets. On BBC's Face the Facts (on Radio 4 at 12.30pm) The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) denied there was a target relating to taking children from their birth parents in order to meet overall adoption targets. John Hemming MP, Chairman of Justice for Families, said, "This is disingenouous and misleading. There is a target for getting children in care adopted. To have a child adopted from care that child has to be in care first. The gover

Day Care Surgery in Selly Oak

I can confirm from personal experience now that the minor surgeries unit at Selly Oak does a good job. I left home at about 7.40 and left the hospital (having rested for the required 30 minutes after a minor operation) at 10.20. The doctors attending were a very competent Italian doctor and one from The Sudan who was watching.

Camilla Cavendish's article re baby Brookes

The link is to Camilla Cavendish's article about baby Brookes in Calderdale. Note the use of the phrase "appalling vista". The judges accept the system as it stands because they refuse to see that it is very badly broken. This is much like Lord Denning refusing the criminal appeal of the Birmingham 6 because he could not accept the "appalling vista" that the police had lied. The number of miscarriages of justice are in the thousands. It ends up doing a lot of harm. That's to children as well as parents.

Foreign Criminals and the ECHR

So we now find out that the refusal to deport Learco Chindamo is nothing to do with the Council of Europe and the European Convention of Human Rights or indeed the 1998 Human Rights Act. Instead it relates simply to the point that in essence there is actual freedom of movement within the EU. There are points where there is no border control in the UK (I won't identify them) and generally there is little border control in the EU. It isn't really surprising that the government are in a total mess. These issues require attention to detail. The government's new "automatic deportation" law isn't anything to do with "automatic deportation". It would not have an effect on a similar case to Learco Chindamo. There is perhaps an argument for a wider form of exclusion ASBO which applies with a criminal sentance (and as a consequence proof beyond reasonable doubt). However, all of these things need to be consider by the court of first instance - which is exa

Family Law issues in Southern Australia

The link is to a story in Southern Australia where lie detectors are suggested for picking up false allegations. The issue of handling false allegations is a very important one. Sometimes people know what they are saying is not true. However, sometimes people believe what they are saying is true, but it is not. That is the real difficulty with some medical evidence. The doctors believe what they are saying, but it happens to be untrue. The judges cannot handle this directly (particularly when they refuse to listen to more than one expert) and it is really the responsibility of the state (a mixture of all estates) to work to ensure that expert evidence actually is true and where it is unreliable it is not relied upon. This issue is why we end up with "fact finding hearings" that are really just inventions as to one possibility that may be true. The procedures used try to obtain certainty from a complete muddle. The end result is a mess.

That AV/STV By-election

Aberdeen UA, Midstocket/Rose Mount Fought under AV. Stage 1 - first preferences: SNP 873 (29.5%;+3.2%); Conservative 821 (27.8%;+0.1%); Liberal Democrat Steve Delaney 693 (23.4%+1.3%); Labour 518 (17.5%;-3.6%; Solidarity 31 (1.00%;+1.00%); Independent 20 (0.7%;+0.7%); SSP No candidate (0.0%;-2.0) SNP gain from Conservative. Turnout 28.6% Last fought 2007. Stage 2 - elimination of Solidarity and Independent candidates SNP 885; Conservative 826; Lib Dem 708; Labour 529 Stage 3 - elimination of Labour candidate SNP 984; Conservative 873; Lib Dem 869 Stage 4 - elimination of Lib Dem candidate SNP 1258; Conservative 1122 SNP gain from Conservative. The ward now has 2 SNP and 1 Labour councillors.

United Nations to Look at UK Childrens Social Services

In an Email today from the secretary of the United Nations Human Rights Committee it has been confirmed that Committee Members will be looking at John Hemming MP's submission about UK Childrens Social Services. John Hemming MP said, "It takes some time to work through different systems of administration. I am pleased that we now seem to making some progress at getting the United Nations to look at the way in which England and Wales recycle children. It is plainly wrong for England and Wales to continue doing things in this way. More of the abuses of process that occur in the Family Justice System are being highlighted now. However, what needs to happen is the recognition that the system is wrong. I therefore welcome the communication from Patrice Gillibert today that our submission will go through to the next stage." "I am still waiting for the High Court to decide whether or not I can start reporting malpractise to the authorities. It is wrong for judges to be

Covert Tape Recording

One of the issues raised in the Sunday Telegraph today is that of covert tape recording. The recording of Video pictures with CCTV is covered by the Data Protection Act because it records someone's face. As far as I can tell a Public Authority is prevented from doing a covert tape recording unless it is done in accordance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. However, as it is entirely reasonable to take notes of a conversation that someone has with another party then I cannot see that the privacy aspects of ECHR constrain recording the same conversation. The situation may be difficult for a situation where someone is "bugged". I know that Childrens Social Services don't like meetings being recorded. I think, however, that this is wrong and they should be willing to have recordings made. It is much like the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 where tape recordings are used for interviews to ensure there is accuracy of evidence. I would think tha

In the Sunday Telegraph Today

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies A proposal to take a newborn baby into care in Calderdale The first of the stories is important. It recognises that the people investigating the public family law system are those who do not wish to recognise errors in it because they are responsible for errors. What is actually needed is a review that looks at a wide range of cases and what is done in other countries. It is true that we cannot prevent all deaths. However, we should be looking at what is the better approach. Much that the current system causes a mass of misery for both children and parents (and the extended family) I contend that it actually fails to prevent the more serious cases of abuse that result in death - that could be prevented. In itself by making mothers and fathers frightened of the system we end up with support services that people are frightened of talking to. That is not good. The second story is one of many where the allegations of potential emotional abuse give rise t

Another angle of parents and childrens social services

The link is to this story: A girl yob aged 14 who started a £1million blaze was locked up yesterday - to save her from her parents' bad influence. Although I am unsure how prison will be any better than living at home it was probably the right thing for the judge to do, much that this was more for punitive reasons than anything else. However, we do really need to identify what we are asking CSS to do. If we mix up too many tasks then we really get in a mess. This is where conflating S31 and S20 of the 1989 Childrens Act. When parents "lose control" of their children the local authority is supposed to step in. I am not sure, however, that I would be critical of the CSS in this instance. However, the focus at the moment is on baby broking. At the same time we have a Chief Constable talking about children being taken into care because they drink alcohol. Given the track record of "care" for aubstance abuse that does not seem a good idea. I do think, however, t

Father in court over murder of baby

The linked story I mention because superficially it does not seems to be a case where Childrens Social Services could have any effect. However, it is also not certain whether it is murder or another Shaken Baby Syndrome case. What worries me about these cases where young babies die from head injuries is that the science is really not clear. If we simply blame the parents each time the danger is that the proper research to identify children at risk and take the action to prevent subdural haematomae will not happen. Babies with glutaric aciduria fall into this category. However, on the hand it may be simply a tragic case where the father is guilty as charged. I am trying to get a proper study done as to the deaths of children on a proper cohort basis as that is the only way of really understanding things and preventing sad situations. A real FII case appears to have gone through in Scotland. The point about FII is that sometimes it happens, but it is a mistake to see it as the most

Election Results: Thursday 16th August 2007.

Aberdeen, Midstocket/Rose Mount Awaiting results Blaenau Gwent WCC, Blaina Ind 381 (36.;1 -11.4); Lab 315 (29.8; -22.7) Ind 310 (29.4; -18.1) No description 49 (4.6; -42.9) Majority 66. Turnout 29% Ind hold. Last fought 2004 Gloucestershire CC, Lansdown Park and Warden Hill Tory 2208 (52.3; -6.6), LD 1605 (38; +7.3), Lab 226 (5.4; +6.6), Green 184 (4.3; 7.3) Majority 603. Turnout 30% Con hold. Last fought 2005 Portsmouth UA, Fratton LD 1196 (58.6; +3); Con 496 (24.3; +1.5); Lab 144 (7.1; -5.3); English Democrats 131 (6.4; -2.1) Majority 700. Turnout 20.7% LD hold. Last fought 2007 Ryedale DC, Sheriff Hutton Con 348 (53.8; +2.5); Ind 299 (46.2; -2.5) Majority 49. Turnout 46.9% Con hold. Last fought 2007

Another sad death from child abuse in London

The link is to a story about Barking and Dagenham. This story fits in with the thesis as to what sort of interventions are avoided. Note that in the changes document I am suggesting that where there are clear mental health issues that risk is a key determinant. (That doesn't mean just someone saying a bit of therapy is needed). There is a further important point relevant to this case. If Childrens Social Services have massive caseloads because they are chasing up cases where "Emotional Abuse" is alleged. (Which can mean just shouting at children) Then they don't have the resource to deal urgently with issues where rapid action is required. There needs to be some clear focus on cases which involve substantial risk of physical harm. That is what has been missing in Swansea, Huddersfield, Haringey and Dagenham in the recent stories. I presume the local Safeguarding Children Board will say "lessons will be learned".

Wakefield pays "fine" of £1 Million for Shooting Messenger

The link is to one of the stories where Wakefield Childrens Services sacked Care Workers for blowing the whistle on child abuse in Wakefield Childrens Homes. This seems to happen with considerable regularity. Vide Haringey. Six care workers sacked for revealing a shocking catalogue of mismanagement in children's homes to the Yorkshire Post have won a £1m settlement from Wakefield Council.


Full Time Caseworker to Councillor John Hemming MP Constituency – Birmingham, Yardley Salary: to be negotiated depending on experience The role of a caseworker in the constituency office involves a variety of areas dealing with many government departments and members of the public both face to face and on the telephone. Our office makes good use of the technology available and you will need to be familiar with Microsoft Office, email and internet and be willing to learn how to use our customised casework system. Amongst other things the post involves writing correspondence on behalf of the MP, carrying out research and helping to run the advice bureau for the constituents. The ideal candidate will be degree level or equivalent experience coupled with a knowledge and interest in local and national politics. The ability to produce high quality written work alongside excellent communication skills is essential. You must be well presented, have the ability to work as part of a team as

Abuse Investigations should be taken away from Childrens Social Services - Hemming

Writing to Minister Kevin Brennan, John Hemming MP, chairman of Justice for Families, has called for the responsiblity for investigating allegations of Child Abuse to be removed from Childrens Social Services. "With the sad death recently in 'Climbie' council Haringey of a 17 month old child in early August 2007, following the convictions for the murder of Leticia Wright in Huddersfield, it is quite clear that our system designed to protect children is failing." said Mr Hemming "In the attempt to find "adoptible commodities" to satisfy the government's targets, serious cases of abuse have been missed." "The police are far better at investigating allegations of abuse than Childrens Social Services. We need people who concentrate on issues of evidence." "There is also a conflict of interest between being a support service and an investigative service. The two responsibilities need to be separated. In Cleveland it was found th

Another sad death from child abuse in Haringey

The link is to yet another story. I am trying to put together some record as to deaths of children from maltreatment in the past two years. This one I think was very early August 2007. I am aware of some issues about Haringey that I am not at liberty to reveal at the moment. However, it seems quite clear that the system is massively dysfunctional. I have argued that the system intervenes where it shouldn't and as a consequence of that fails to intervene where it should.

Huddersfield Death a new issue

The link is to a story that has not been widely told relaing to Leticia Wright with an extract below. Zaheer Hussain, the biological father of four-year-old Leticia Wright, right, said he was last with his daughter around two months before she died. He told the jury that the girl's mother Sharon Wright, 23, formerly from Hartlepool, then stopped contact between him and his little girl. Mr Hussain told the jury at Bradford Crown Court: "We were in a shopping mall and I told her it was time to go and she wasn't having it and crying and she didn't want to go and said she wants to stay with me. "I couldn't do anything to keep her because Sharon would have argued and I don't know what I could have done about it." He added: "I have never seen her like that, she proper kicked me, smacked me, punched me, screaming and crying 'no, no, I don't want to go' and I just had to pick her up the best I could with her still hitting me and took her back

Mixed race toddler's carers found guilty (Kirklees)

This is another of those cases where one would have expected intervention from Childrens Social Services. She was a mixed race 4 year old. Harder to get adopted than an unharmed baby. It is important to remember that with all the social workers leavingt the profession because they cannot stand doing what they are doing it leaves fewer and fewer experienced people. Those people need to hunt up the "adoptible commodities". That cuts the time available to protect children. Apparently an "independent professional" has done a review. The question is independent from what. Not independent from the profession. Not independent from the paying local authority.

By-election results: Thursday 9th August 2007

Elmbridge BC, Walton Ambleside Con 310 (45.5; -2.6), Ind 252 (37.0; +5.6), Lab 60 (8.8; -1.2), UKIP 33 (4.8; +4.8), LD Sereena Davey 26 (3.8; -6.7). Majority 58. Turnout 23.3%. Con hold. Last fought 2007. Tower Hamlets LBC, Shadwell Respect 1512 (43.2; -1.7), Lab 1415 (40.4; +9.2), Con 476 (13.6; -3.9), LD Rosie Clarke 98 (2.8; -3.6). Majority 97. Turnout 39.7%. Respect hold. Last fought 2006. Prudhoe TC, Castle LD Darren Levitt 179 (64.4), Con 99 (35.6). Majority 80. Turnout 15.0%. LD hold. Further results from 2nd August 2007. Glynneath (Welsh Community Council), West Central PC 167 (68.2), Lab 78 (31.8). Majority 89. Turnout 37.5%. PC gain from Lab. Pontwardawe (Welsh Community Council), Rhyd-Y-Fro PC 63 (61.8), Lab 39 (38.2). Majority 24. Turnout 17.6%. PC gain from Lab. Further result from 17th July 2007. Gainsborough TC, South West LD Harry Clarke 301 (7.7), Ind 119 (28.3). Majority 182. Turnout 11.6%. LD gain from Ind.

HP Sauce - spot the difference

It is naughty to continue to market HP Sauce with the Houses of Parliament when it is now no longer made in the UK, but in the Netherlands. I have written to various people about this and we will see what happens.

PMQs - Entertainment not accountability

I have not being going to PMQs that much recently. That is mainly because I find I can be more effective dealing with things in my office. PMQs is quite an entertaining spectacle, but really does not help in terms of accountability. The House of Commons is actually quite bad at holding the government to account. That is obvious when you look at the ludicrous responses I have got from departments about the costs of red boxes. Some have given a straight answer, some have avoided the question and others have claimed that it would cost too much to find out how many red boxes they have bought. What this results in is the government party having a tendency to introduce legislation to change government. Often it could be done simply by administrative instruction. However, we end up instead with a piece of legislation.

North East Wales (Flintshire)

The link is to a story where the Ombudsman has judged that a council should pay compensation to a family that was investigated by Childrens Social Services. Note particularly: As well as recommending the apology and the £4,000 payout to the mother, the ombudsman said another £1,000 should go to one of her daughters for the distress she in particular was caused, Why when the system is supposed to protect children does it cause so much distress to children?

Where's the judgment?

The linked story is about the failure of the system to provide judgments to two parents at Liverpool County Court. Without the judgment they cannot appeal to the Court of Appeal. The system of correcting unlawful decisions at a lower court is, therefore, blocked. This is not a trivial issue. It undermines the whole process of law. I am told that frequently parents' solicitors prevent the parents from getting their judgments. Without the judgment they cannot appeal either in person or through another firm. There is an argument that you can appeal on the basis that you haven't been given the judgment. We may try that in the future. However, generally people have been bounced from the European Court and the Court of Appeal because they don't have the judgment.

Death of child in Ealing

The sad death from very serious physical maltreatment over a period of time of a child in Southwark does fit with the theory that the system is concentrating on white children. The problem with the investigating procedure is that it is not truly independent of the system. What is needed in this situation may not be the formality of a judicial inquiry, but at least someone independent of the child abuse investigation system should be appointed.

Foot and Mouth and an October General Election

The link is to the politicalbetting website which reports the expectation of an early election going to late 2008 on the spreadbetting markets. I do think the outbreak of Foot and Mouth means that noone could sensibly plan for an October general election as canvassing should be discouraged in rural areas.

Lib Dem Regional Floods Task Force

Lib Dem Regional Team Leader and Shadow Minister for the West Midlands John Hemming MP and West Worcestershire’s Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Richard Burt visited the county yesterday to look at the problems caused by the floods. "It is clear," said John Hemming, "that there are problems beyond those immediately of water damage. A lot needs to be done in helping businesses, residents and farmers in flood damaged areas get back on their feet. We have established a regional flood task force to look at this issue and come up with recommendations. "The Environment Agency", said Richard Burt, "do not seem to deserve their bonuses. Some river channels have not been cleared for many years and there are questions as to whether inaction by the EA has exacerbated the problems of heavy rainfall across Worcestershire. Our regional flood project team will review how differently the EA and local authorities should behave to enable the West Midlands to c

Written Parliamentary Question 2nd August 2007

Environment Food and Rural Affairs: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were: and what tendering process was used in selecting them. A: During the last five years DEFRA has purchased two ministerial red boxes, both were in financial year 2005-06, at a cost of £750.00 each. They were supplied by Banner Business Supplies. As the value of orders was below the minimum HM Treasury threshold for competition, the orders were placed on a single tender basis with Banner Business Supplies. Jonathan R Shaw (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Guardian on the culture in Social Care

The link is to The Guardian's perspective on how social workers approach assessment of their clients. Taking out a few quotes: "My experience is that when it comes to advocating for resources, social workers are inclined to present the worst aspects of someone's case and skip over some of the positives to get maximum impact. Obviously this is a dodgy path to tread, because your argument is that it is all doom and gloom but an increase in services will make it all better. The risk in that approach is that the manager may ask: if things are really that bad, shouldn't we be heading towards child protection procedures or court? " "There is a longstanding tradition within radical social work that entails being economical with the truth if it means you can get help or services that otherwise would be denied."

West Midlands Lib Dems launch Regional Team

The West Midlands Liberal Democrats are announcing their team of regional spokespeople. John Hemming MP has been appointed as the Shadow Minister for the West Midlands (and Regional team Leader) and will be shadowing Liam Byrne MP. Lorely Burt MP is the Deputy Team Leader also dealing with Business and Enterprise. Her husband Richard Burt joins her in the regional shadow cabinet dealing with Health. Paul Keetch MP will deal with the regional issues relating to Defence. Liz Lynne MEP will deal with European issues. Martin Turner will handle Culture, Sarah Carr Farming and Agriculture, Ayoub Khan, DFID, Africa and Asia; Jerry Evans will look at Environment and Sustainability, Tariq Khan will deal with the Home Office, John Redfern Local Government, Alan Beddow Housing and Karen Hamilton Children Schools and Families. John Hemming said, "This is our team for the regional agenda. We need to be challenging the govenment. In particular we will be looking at the issue of the f