Justice for Families – Campaign Report 17, John Hemming, MP

Ed: As parents with children and young people with ME have been subjected to false accusations of MSBP (FII) I am posting the latest campaign report from John Hemming, MP.

From: John Hemming MP

November 08, 2007

Subject: Justice for Families – Campaign Report 17

Campaign Report
Quite a few things have been happening recently. Fran Lyon’s case has been highlighted as an example of the money made out of allegations of Munchausen’s syndrome by Proxy. Rachel Pullen’s case where the local authority’s expert stopped her from being able to instruct a solicitor and the Official Solicitor stepped in has also highlighted a further problem in the system.

It is worth me writing a bit more about Rachel’s case (which appears in the press cuttings below). Between 1st January 2006 and 22nd October 2007 there were 340 cases like Rachel’s where the Official Solicitor acted. The Official solicitor is someone (Alistair Pitblado is in charge of the organisation) who acts when people don’t have the “mental capacity” to make decisions and in theory don’t have anyone else to make decisions for them. What this means is that Rachel was not allowed to say “no” or contest the local authority.

It takes a few moments for this to sink in as to how evil this is. What it means is that the local authority’s expert can say someone is incapable of instructing a solicitor so the adoption case goes through “on the nod”. Yes it is that bad. There is an EDM about this.

We are also working to stop the secret jailings. We have managed to get the government to admit that secret jailings are illegal and if anyone is imprisoned then the judge must say for how long and what for – even if the trial is in secret. A parliamentary question has been asked about 71 year old Charles Roy Taylor who is currently in HMP Nottingham. This should elicit what is by law required.

I am also working with other MPs to produce parliamentary petitions about things that are going wrong. Parliamentary Petitions are covered by Article 9 of the 1688 Bill of Rights and hence issues that would otherwise be covered by the 1960 Access to Justice Act are not.

The article below from Community Care (about things being worse since Laming) is important because it demonstrates that our argument that in the rush to recycle children those at risk are being missed is true.

We will be running more parliamnentary lobby events as well. Particularly the voice of children needs to be heard.

We are holding training meetings with volunteers on 11th and 12th of November. I think there are still a few places if anyone else wishes to be a volunteer advisor. Email Emily Wilson-Gavin on emilyw_g@hotmail.com  if you are interested.

Key campaigning activity is to encourage your MP to sign the Early Day motions (see later). We aim to be doing some street theatre as well as demonstrations outside the family courts.

Demonstrations planned for Southampton and Bristol – click for details

New Forum
A new forum has been created at http://justiceforfamilies.freeforums.org/

Early Day Motions
EDMs are motions in parliament. Normally they don’t get debated. However, they are a sort of petition signed only by Members of Parliament. You can ask your MP to sign an EDM. You need to say which number EDM it is. MPs who are members of the government cannot sign EDMs, but you can ask them to write a letter to the minister in support of the EDM.

Using EDMs, therefore, is a good mechanism for lobbying. You can ask your MP to do something and check by looking at the online records (see links for each EDM) whether they have done it or not.

Every Queens Speech all the EDM’s stop and cannot be signed and a new set of numbers starts up. I retabled all of these on the day after the Queen’s Speech.

The following URL gives a list of the EDM’s that I have tabled.


EDM 124


That this House notes that local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted; and calls urgently for effective scrutiny of care proceedings to stop this from happening.



That this House believes that mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed as this is in the interests of the long-term health of babies; recognises that for newborn babies this means breastfeeding on demand; further believes that newborn babies in care should also be breastfed on demand where this does not result in any risk to the baby; and calls for the Government to introduce guidelines to ensure that facilities are provided to ensure that newborn babies can be breastfed on demand.

EDM 126


That this House notes the comments of a senior social worker that meetings have been held during which solicitors acting for parents have discussed how to undermine the cases of their clients; further notes that there are many odd cases in which solicitors fail to oppose care proceedings or accept that the section 31 threshold has been met notwithstanding the opposition of their clients; recognises that reporting and obtaining the investigation of such behaviour outwith parliamentary proceedings remains a contempt of court for hon. Members; and asks the Solicitors Regulatory Authority to review the implementation of the new solicitors’ code of conduct and how this relates to conflicts of interest in the Family Court.



That this House regrets the Government’s proposals to retain secrecy within the family courts; believes that this secrecy permeates bad practice throughout the whole system of children services; feels that it is possible to protect the identity of the child while allowing parents to talk and seek advice publicly about their treatment in the family courts, and that professional witnesses should be uniquely identified to monitor consistency; further believes that every case should have an anonymised judgement handed to the parents that they can discuss publicly; and calls on the Government to recognise that there are very serious problems in the system that have been postponed rather than resolved by the limited proposals contained within the consultation document.



That this House notes that in an email dated 24th October 2000, John Radford, Doncaster’s then Director of Public Health, described the issue of research on babies by Dr David Southall at Doncaster Hospital in the late 1980s as `potentially a hot potato as to my recall the intervention resulted in increased deaths and didn’t have proper consent’; expresses concern that the details of this research and its outcomes have been covered up by the health authorities; expresses particular concern that the research protocol specifically required that no action be taken to prevent cot death in the children selected until sufficient data had been collected; notes that the inquiry into CNEP ignored CNEP in Doncaster; and calls for a public inquiry into this and other research managed by Dr Southall to identify why the checks and balances in the system failed.



That this House notes that it is common practice for a firm of solicitors to perform outsourced work for a local authority and also to represent parents when parties in cases against the same local authority; notes and is surprised that this conflict of interest is acceptable under the professional conduct rules; understands that some parents would be surprised to find that this is the case; and calls for the Law Society to require that parents be asked to confirm in writing that they recognise that the firm they are instructing is conflicted in this way as part of the client engagement process.



That this House notes that from time to time the advice given by an expert appointed by one party to a court case is used to permit the exclusion of capacity of a further party to that case and then the Official Solicitor is brought in to act on behalf of the latter party; believes that it is an unacceptable conflict of interest; and calls, notwithstanding the duty of experts to the court, for the Government to introduce legislation to prevent this from occurring.

Online Petition

Various stories from other online sources (thanks due to Ali and Wendy for collecting them)

Baby died after ignoring warnings


The Websters who won the right to keep their baby son after having three older children forcibly adopted, have been granted legal aid to appeal the adoptions

No better after Laming

A story about a failed adoption

Tuan Nguyen is a suspected victim of child trafficking and now missing from a Salford care home. thought to be 11-14. They are unsure of his age or origin and it sounds as though they have not bothered to get him an interpreter.


Rachel Pullen’s story in Nottingham


Talking to babies is child abuse according to staff at Calderdale Royal Hospital.


Social worker struck off for breaching user’s confidence sharing information provided by an abuse victim with the alleged perpetrator.


Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call in Britain under laws coming into force tomorrow.


Judge Nicholas Critchton on the family courts.


Parents of obese children to get official warning letters.


Up to 50,000 assaults on care staff every year, LGA claims.


Christian Judge unable to separate his personal beliefs to perform fairly in court.


Jack Frost’s article in the Irish Press


The Garvey children returned after their grandparents campaigned for two years. The grandparents, in their forties, had been looking after the children because their daughter had been suffering P.N.D. The article states that only one percent of families who campaign against this council win. other papers who helped this story, Plymouth and Devon port column.


National adoption week-pictures of kids


Christian couple win right to carry on fostering


Chrisitan magistrate in gay adoption row