Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Hampstead Case verdict "That'll be the Russian mother and the Irish boyfriend"

B e f o r e :
Re P and Q (Children: Care Proceedings: Fact Finding)
Hannah Markham for the London Borough of Barnet
Ella Draper, the mother, did not appear and was not represented
June Venters QC for the father, Ricky Dearman
Justin Ageros for the children by their guardian
Hearing dates: 17 – 20 February, 3 – 6 and 10 – 12 March 2015

HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT ____________________
Crown Copyright ©

 Summary of the significant points made;


66. As the then President, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, said in Re T [2004] 2FLR 838, "Evidence cannot be evaluated and assessed in separate compartments. A judge in these difficult cases must have regard to the relevance of each piece of evidence to other evidence and to exercise an overview of the totality of the evidence in order to come to the conclusion whether the case put forward by the local authority has been made out to the required standard of proof."

105. Even in the presence of Jean Clement Yaohirou, Mr Christie's relationship with the children, at times, was harsh and coercive. He had known their mother by then for about four months, had assumed a quasi parent role and taken it upon himself to enforce discipline.

117. There did not appear to be any emotional connection with what they were saying except that they seemed energised.

•    The children's false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper. 

(That is the children’s Russian mother & her Irish boyfriend!)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Law Gazette 12th March 2015 - Legal Aid Cuts

MPs lambast civil legal aid reforms

  • Sir Alan Beith
The government’s civil legal aid cuts were badly researched and implemented, and have impeded access to justice, an influential committee of MPs reports today.
The House of Commons justice committee says that the speed with which the Ministry of Justice sought to save money resulted in the department failing to meet its objectives for the reforms.
The consequences have been a ‘substantial’ increase in litigants in person, growing pressure on the courts, a fall in mediation and troubling reports of ‘advice deserts’.
Since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act took effect there has also been an underspend because the MoJ did not ensure those who could still access civil legal aid were able to get it.
The cross-party committee of MPs says government’s savings were ‘potentially undermined’ by an inability to show value for money for the taxpayer. In particular the cuts generated ‘knock-on’ costs for courts costs and local councils.
The MPs also criticise the government’s ‘safety net’ of exceptional case funding, which has not worked as intended, denying funding to deserving cases. The report concludes that the Legal Aid Agency failed to give sufficient weight to access to justice in deciding which cases merited funding, which may have resulted in miscarriages of justice.
Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith, committee chair (pictured), said making savings of £2bn from the departmental budget of £9.8bn was ‘clearly a very challenging target’ which was successfully achieved. But the savings were rushed through too quickly to understand the full consequences and prepare for the knock-on effects.
The criticisms are contained in a report on the impact of changes to civil legal aid introduced under Part 1 of LASPO.
‘Many of the issues which we have identified and which have been identified to us could have been avoided by research and an evidence base to work from, as well as by the proper provision of public information about the reforms,’ the report concludes.
‘It is therefore crucial that, in addition to the various remedial steps which we recommend in the short term, in the longer term the ministry work to provide this information and undertake the requisite research so a review of the policy can be undertaken.’
The committee recommends that the MoJ undertake a public campaign to combat the widespread impression that legal aid is ‘almost non-existent’.
MPs want staffing changes for the exceptional case funding scheme, having been ‘surprised’ that applications are not currently determined by officials with specialist knowledge.
On domestic violence, the committee cites concerns about the 24-month time limit for producing the evidence necessary to qualify for legal aid. MPs recommended a new amendment to give the LAA discretion to allow evidence if domestic violence happened more than two years ago.
The committee did not accept the ministry’s assurance that it was monitoring whether vulnerable people can still access legal aid, as there was ‘ample evidence’ that funding was not reaching those most in need.
The committee also urges the government to drop its appeal over the legality of its residence test, which limits legal aid to people with a ‘strong connection’ to the UK.
The report adds: ‘We question whether pursuing an appeal in the “residence test” case is a good use of public money. It seems to us that the residence test is likely to save very little from the civil legal aid budget and would potentially bar some highly vulnerable people from legal assistance in accessing the courts.’
An MoJ spokesperson said the government worked closely with organisations that provide advice and offer early intervention in disputes to ensure they have the full information they need to help people, and there is a dedicated 24/7 online service to help people understand if they qualify for civil legal aid and where advice is available if they do not.
He added: ‘We are keeping these reforms under close review and have already made changes to address issues raised. We are also undertaking a comprehensive research programme to better understand why people choose to go court and how they deal with legal problems.’
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said: ‘We support the justice committee’s call for an urgent review. The Society has consistently warned the government of the dangers of its civil legal aid policies. This report adds to the growing dossier of evidence proving that the legal aid changes have failed to meet the government’s own objectives.
‘There is no doubt that people are being denied access to justice. Recent research has shown that many domestic violence victims are being failed by the system as they face tough evidence requirements before they can even receive advice and assistance under the legal aid scheme. This goes far beyond what parliament ever intended.
He added: ‘The report highlights that even for cases where parliament intended that legal aid should be available, the system is not working, and people are being denied the help they need. This is having a significant knock-on cost for the public purse, as well as a devastating personal impact on people who cannot get help.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • Denying people access to justice gives power to the world's bullies, and that's what is happening in the workplace, in tenant and landlord, in benefits.
    I'm old enough to know actions don't have one single consequence, they spread out, set up events and change lives far in to the future. The grown ups of the 30s, 40s and 50s made huge sacrifices to create a fairer society, to curtail the power of the bully, to rid us of corruption. We're making a mistake abandoning that cause.
  • i note that there is in the report an over-emphasis on the worth of mediation. it is pitched as a direct alternative to "court battles" as if going to a solicitor necessarily entails a trial. the truth is most divorce cases are resolved through solicitor assisted negotiation and only 10% go to trial. honest information to the public about their options would be appreciated instead of repetition of the mediation myth.
  • Andrew is spot on. Undoubtedly, the reforms have hit litigants' hard. It seems that the paradigm is shifting towards the rich, in that only the rich can 'afford' justice. Fees are increasing (evidenced by the 5% levy) and the ability to get legal aid has demised.

    The cuts have failed to provide support to those who need it most, setting the stone for the wealthy - almost making them untouchable. Many litigants-in-person simply do not have a disposable income to be running up extortionate legal fees - whether or not their claim is one of great substance. Instead, litigants' are scared. Litigants' are denied the right to fair justice. Litigants' remain unrepresented.

    After all, on the the nation's constitutional standpoints is held within the Magna Carta 1215: "To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice." -- an averagely prudent layperson can spot the demise.
  • i.e. everything that everyone with any knowledge of the Legal Aid and courts system said at the time has come true.
    Paul Hawkins
  • Not only did MPs lambast legal aid reforms they went on to suggest there should be a consultation on the proliferation of Mackenzie Friends (paid and unpaid). Not surprisingly, the LSB Consumer Panel chair is against this - Mackenzie Friends who are not legally qualified, have no duty to the Court and who probably do not have PII should not be regulated (according to her) yet we qualified lawyers must be regulated to within an inch of our lives!
  • If the "grown-ups" (and some not quite grown up) in the 30s and 40s had been asked what they were "making huge sacrifices" for, I doubt whether many would have replied: "To rid us of corruption, to secure free legal advice for all, to keep court fees down". I suspect their hopes might rather have been directed to preserving the sovereignty and distinction of their country - a cause not very fashionable today. But some of them are still alive, and still grown up. Mr Benington can ask them.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Poor Law - Kenneth Clarke has he really got away with it? The Magna Carta say's all people are equal in the eyes of the law - The abuse agenda cover up was hard to watch!

FAO: Mr Jackson of Panorama - My statement on a programme you say you are doing on Chris Fay
On 21 December 2012 I was forced to put a set of documents on The documents consisted of court exhibits from a 1982 court case regarding a raid at Elm Guest Hse.
The documents were namely: a signing in book, a receipt book, a book where the names of guests and the rooms they stayed in were clearly marked out and some evidence of VIP business bookings.
Aside from this 1982 court evidence, I obtained while working as development officer of the National Association of Young People in Care, I did not have my own notes on the case apart from what I had already published on on many of the cases, as NAYPIC had been raided in 1993.
During the seizure of the NAYPIC files, and contents of the organisation’s Camden office, most of my casework notes were taken by unidentified men arriving in unmarked vans. I did, however, retain a number of files as I arrived during the raid of the office and seizure of documentation. 
Among these were the notes of a former volunteer, a Labour councillor for Greenwich, Mr Christopher Fay. These were more elaborate than my own in that Fay named abusers and how they were allegedly connected, according to pieces Fay had put together with his journalist contact, John Oakes, and were based on meetings between Carol Cazier, owner of the Elm House Guest House, held at NAYPIC where she spoke to me in my office, and where Mr Fay had access to her.
I believe the information I was told by Carol Cazier is responsible for the demise of the organisation. It led also to the drugging and rape of one of its workers and perhaps the killing of two others.
By 2012 it had been some time since these events and I had meanwhile established two successful art galleries. I could not understand why so many years later the issue had raised its ugly head again.
In 1990 I had asked Christopher Fay to leave NAYPIC following a conversation with a senior colleague official, about his untrustworthiness. During this exchange I was advised in the strongest terms to disassociate NAYPIC from Mr Fay.
Christopher, an adult advisor, Sarah a NAYPIC management committee member and I had co-written a NAYPIC publication called, Abuse in the Care System, and another document called, The Therapy of Fear, the compilation of which had offered him unlimited access to the organisation’s case files.
Mr Fay was bitter when I sacked him and I believe remains so, due to events that have later transpired. He has appeared hostile towards me. I do not know Fay, Tom Watson, Exaro or those sensationalising these events without due process or presenting of evidence in a court of law. 
I did not have the permission of my clients and service users, to whom I have a duty of confidentiality under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, to give the NAYPIC files to the police.  I believed that the files were of public interest and that the files contained some evidence that may be helpful to substantiating allegations of abuse. Due to my duty to protect the confidentiality of victims named in the files I objected to the files being taken from me.
I am saddened that Elm Guest House victims have not had justice.  The raid by police on my house, during which my files were removed, has so far not proved helpful in achieving justice for victims.  I have worked tirelessly to give these people justice as you can read on Youth Parliament website. I feel that I have been hijacked at a point when there was an opportunity to establish a class action.
Further information:  ITV News UK Editor, Lucy Manning, interviews Mary Moss about child abuse that took place at Elm House Guest House, which is currently the subject of a police investigation.