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Advice to Men
 
 

WAR ON SECRECY IN THE ENGLISH FAMILY COURTS

UK ATTORNEY-GENERAL SEEKS TO IMPRISON DR MICHAEL J. Pelling for opposing secrecy in courts


THE SECRET COURTS OF ENGLAND

The Courts of England and Wales almost invariably hold Family proceedings in secret, to the great detriment of children, fathers, and justice. There is no public scrutiny and no public confidence in a system of Family justice administered behind closed doors. Anyone seeking to publicise the injustice that occurs in the hearings is rapidly hit with an injunction binding him to secrecy on pain of imprisonment, or is prosecuted under the general law of criminal contempt.  The words of Bentham - "In the darkness of secrecy sinister interest, and evil in every shape, have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice." - have been fulfilled in the English Family Division where sinister interest and evil in every shape do indeed have full swing. As the following example demonstrates.  

THE FORDER CASE

Recently (19 November 2003) an 11-year old boy named Harry Forder was placed in public care by deputy High Court Judge Altman, not because he was neglected abused or otherwise in need, but simply because he refused to live with his mother under a custody order and insisted on living with his father. Harry having run away from his mother and spent some weeks living with his father, Judge Altman then sent High Court Tipstaffs and Policemen to the father's house, who broke down Harry's bedroom door where he had barricaded himself in, and dragged him off by force. Harry had his own solicitor but the Tipstaffs confiscated his mobile phone and prevented him contacting his lawyers. The Judge ordered that Harry be put in the care of the local authority (i.e. official State care), knowing that the boy would run away from his mother if taken back to her. Thus English Family law has reached the ultimate absurdity: the State decrees that the child who rejects his mother and wishes to live with his father shall be punished by not having any parent at all. Harry is still in care, desperate to return home to his loving father. He spent Christmas in care, but the State was merciful: Harry was briefly allowed to see his father through a glass partition.  Legal proceedings continue in this matter.  

As for the father, Judge Altman had him up for contempt of court for not returning Harry to his mother - though the father would have had to use extreme violence on his own son to bring that about. On 24 November 2003 Judge Altman found Tim Forder guilty of contempt, in a secret court, but postponed sentence, which can be up to 2 years in prison. Under human rights legislation (the Human Rights Act 1998) all contempt proceedings are criminal proceedings, yet the Judge insisted on holding the trial behind closed doors. Around 50 members of the public, mainly from the powerful campaigning group Fathers 4 Justice, sought peaceful entry to the courtroom but were barred by the Judge aided by Security Guards and the Metropolitan Police. So in England, if it has anything to do with Family law, you can be tried and sent to prison all in secret.  None of this has been reported in the Press because of the vicious contempt laws against reporting Family proceedings relating to children.   (Full Story)

CAMPAIGN FOR OPEN JUSTICE

From 1995 onwards Dr Michael J.Pelling conducted with others a campaign to open up the secret English Family courts. Fathers 4 Justice (established in 2002) also makes open justice a key policy issue. Dr Pelling took a test case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, based on the failure of his local London court [Bow County Court] in 1996 to hold a public hearing with public pronouncement of judgment in his own son's custody [ or 'residence' as the English courts now call it] case, as required by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Certainly Article 6(1) requires, in unqualified terms, that "Judgment shall be pronounced publicly" in all civil and criminal cases. Dr Pelling argued his case in person at Strasbourg, heard together with the consolidated case of Andrew Bayram on the same issue. Mr Bayram was represented by counsel. The European Court of 7 Judges rejected 5-2 both the case for public hearing and for public judgment in child cases. The Judgment can be read on the ECHR Website at www.echr.coe.int : cases B v. United Kingdom (36337/97) and P v. United Kingdom (35974/97), 24 April 2001.  

Dr Pelling took the view that there had been a deliberate perversion of the law by the Strasbourg judges, who had not upheld the provisions of the Convention. Indeed, the decision conflicted with earlier case law of the European Court. In the United Kingdom the Human Rights Act 1998, which gives effect in domestic law to the Convention, came into force on 2 October 2000. Strasbourg decisions have to be taken into account but do not bind the English courts. Dr Pelling decided to force the issue by publicly pronouncing himself the Residence Judgment in his son's case from 1996. It was published in full in a journal called CONTACT, in April 2003 Issue No.5. The journal in electronic form and the banned Judgment are attached as Word Documents. The UK Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith QC) issued proceedings by Summons for criminal contempt against Dr Pelling on 12 December 2003 for, inter alia, publishing this Judgment. Dr Pelling's defence will be that he was legally entitled to publish the Judgment, both at Common Law and by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998.  

THE MATIN CASE

That was not all that Dr Pelling published in CONTACT 5. In January 2003 in a case rather similar to Harry Forder's, Mr Justice Singer in the High Court made an order returning Forhad Matin (then aged 10) to the care of his mother, who had a Residence order, when the boy, like Harry, had been living with his father for some weeks. Forhad had been ill-treated and physically assaulted in his mother's home; he was desperate to live with his father. He was at Court on 23 January 2003 as were both parents. The father acted in person with Dr Pelling as his legal assistant. The Judge sent a Children & Family Reporter [Court Welfare Officer] (one Muriel Raleigh) to tell Forhad his decision that he should immediately return to his mother for the next few days. The father remained in the courtroom but Dr Pelling came out and found the Reporter, in the public corridor outside, berating and bullying the child into going home with his mother. When the Reporter lied to the child that his father had gone away from the Court, so that Forhad would have no choice but to leave with his mother, Dr Pelling intervened and told the child the truth that his father was still there and that if he did not go with his mother then his father would be there to take him home.  

Mr Justice SInger himself then came into the public corridor on his way out, and was told that the child was refusing to comply with his order. There then ensued the extraordinary spectacle of an English High Court Judge trying to enforce his own order for nearly half-an-hour by arguing with and threatening a 10-year old boy into compliance. As Forhad related, the Judge threatened: "If you don't go with your Mum I'll put you in a place where you can't see your Mother or your Father" - which Forhad understood to mean a threat to put him in public care. However, Forhad resolutely stood his ground, and in the end the Judge gave up, called everyone back into court, and rescinded his earlier order. Thus Forhad went home with his father, who in due course in April 2003 obtained a Residence order. But Mr Justice Singer blamed Dr Pelling for the failure of his order and said he would report the matter to the Attorney-General for contempt.  

The Attorney-General's Summons of 12/12/03 for criminal contempt includes a charge that Dr Pelling interfered with the administration of justice on 23/1/03 by intervening as above to correct the Reporter's lies and assure Forhad that his father was still there. Dr Pelling's defence will be that it cannot possibly be a contempt of court to tell the truth under the circumstances of this case.  

Dr Pelling in the public interest published an account of the events in the Matin case in CONTACT 5, as the lead article under the headline "MR JUSTICE SINGER CHILD ABUSER". This can be read in the attached Word Doc and is also produced below in this Email. The Attorney-General's Summons includes a further charge of criminal contempt in publishing this article. Dr Pelling's defence will be that there was no contempt in what he published and that he was legally entitled to publish, both at Common Law and by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998.  

ATTORNEY-GENERAL v. PELLING

The Summons was served on 17 December 2003. No hearing date is yet fixed for the trial, and certain procedural matters are in process of resolution first. If guilty of contempt Dr Pelling faces imprisonment of up to 2 years.  

This is the first in a series of Emails being sent out worldwide. Men of so many nations are oppressed by evil laws which punish them for the offence of seeking only to be good fathers to their children. Those laws and court practice are often backed up by stringent restrictions on freedom of speech in order to perpetuate a rotten system of law and the Family law gravy train, financed by the victims. You can help in the instant case by helping to publicise the UK Attorney-General's persecution of someone who sought to tell the truth about English Family law and open up the English courts. You can contact the Attorney-General and put your opinion to him (contact details to follow). And of course those who are able can help by attending the trial when it takes place in due course this year at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. In England there has already been tremendous support from Fathers 4 Justice and many others.

This Email is blind-copied to most recipients to respect the privacy of your email addresses, but may of course be forwarded to anyone, individuals and Press. Please forward also to University Law Departments, since the legal issues involved are of interest in the English common law jurisdictions. Further information will be put out about these issues as the case develops. If you do not wish to receive further Emails in the series please email me back and I will remove you from the group. Information about the case is also available from the Website www.fathercare.org .

I thank you for your interest and support.  

Dr Michael J.Pelling

_____________
See also:

Justice Singer, child abuser

More:


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Posted 2004 01 12
Updates:
2004 04 04 (installed bookmarks and )
2004 12 24 (reformated)