Sunday, 20 March 2011

Secret Injustice

In a country like this we expect justice to be fair, open and principled. Indeed an honest system of law that defends our rights and freedoms is one of the key things which make our society morally superior to the examples of totalitarianism and dictatorship that we see elsewhere in the world and is a key element of our country’s social identity.

 In recent years many of us may have thought that justice was becoming unbalanced, perhaps concentrating too much on the rights of criminals rather than victims or the rights of people not to be offended being placed above the right to free speech. We may have been angered by judgements from the European courts overriding out traditional laws. We may have noticed that fixed penalties were taking the place of real trials, often for misdemeanours like being late with a tax form or forgetting to SORN the car, this despite the Magna Carta expressly forbidding such practice which ignores both Habeas Corpus and the requirement for a jury before forfeiture (fine). More recently we may have wondered about people abusing the libel law or the use of injunctions, often at the behest of rich celebrities or corporations, in order to prohibit publication by the media that could cause personal embarrassment.

Even so most people have faith that ultimately our judges and legal system, even though weighted towards the rich and sometimes an ass, will nevertheless deliver open transparent and fair justice.

Increasingly there are reports that this is no longer the case. Reports and rumour suggest that in particular the so-called ‘family courts’, where proceedings are held in private on the pretext that  children might be harmed by publicity, are using hyper-injunctions to prevent potentially wronged parents from getting help and advice. Christopher Booker in the Telegraph has written about family courts on a number of occasions over the past couple of years and the lack of publicity and hence scrutiny they afford.

In Hansard this week is an even more worrying report (H/T Anna Racoon). Mr John Hemming, MP for Yardley, used parliamentary privilege to air his concerns, and Hansard is public so can be quoted and reported. Interestingly John Hemming also quotes from Magna Carta, confirming the validity of unrepealed sections.

This Hansard record confirms that social services are using a combination of the family courts and hyper-injunctions not just to ensure anonymity and prevent publicity but to prevent affected people from talking to anyone at all, even up to and including independent legal advisors and their Member of Parliament. The Hansard report also suggests that parents, fighting to prevent their children being taken into care, are being blackmailed by such injunctions, which if broken by the parent, would be deemed contempt and the child would be taken away. This despite some affected parents having never been found guilty of any crime.
This is morally indefensible! It means parents caught up in family court proceedings and at risk of having their child taken into care are completely at the mercy of Social Services and court chosen and court appointed experts. No chance to choose their legal advisor, no way to get further advice, and nowhere to go to appeal if they think they are being unjustly treated. It encourages abuse by the authorities to cover up their own failings, to pursue personal vendettas, to act entirely without scrutiny, and is no better than the sham justice of a totalitarian state. 

When it comes to vulnerable people a similar situation applies, and reports suggest such people, judged vulnerable only by the court, not an independent expert, are having their homes and assets seized and sold to pay for the court and legal costs. Some people suggest this may even be a scam to steal from the vulnerable.

This is wrong!

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog you have here Woodsy, I have just lost a long comment I tried to post to you about the 'Law', and I am in too much pain to re-do it all, I agree with you that the system is in need of serious sorting out not just for the vulnerable but for all who come into contact with the corruption that is now endemic throughout the system!
    My hand is on the mend thanks!
    I am going to put your blog on my bloglist as it is a great read and well written, its a pleasure to have found you and I look forward to visiting you again soon!