Been a while since I found the motivation to come on and blog, maybe because a lot of my work is published widely in newspapers and magazines, and I don’t really expect anyone to go looking for my thoughts beyond that, but was encouraged today to find positive comments. More than that though, I remain frustrated at the abuse perpetrated on mothers and their children by secret courts and by sheriffs and lawyers who abuse their position knowing that no one is watching and no one can report on their appalling behaviour.
I’ll offer just two examples: millionaire b/wanker who has put his ex-wife and young daughter through the mill following a bitter divorce. The daughter wants to be with mum, and is for the moment, but he continues to fight and argue that it is in her best interests to live with him. Recent court case saw the sheriff side with him, dismiss the opinions of experts in child psychology on no reasonable grounds whatsoever, and lambast the mother of the child even though he acknowledged that the father had beaten the mother up during the marriage, citing the husband’s own admissions and independent supporting evidence, including medical evidence. Our society is supposed to display zero tolerance of domestic violence. How did it manifest itself in court? The sheriff said he would make no further comment on the violence and berated the mother for having a tendency to exaggerate. Presumably medical evidence is not good enough for this guy.
Apologies but I’ve been asked to delete the paragraph that used to be here by the person concerned for fear of being ‘punished’ by our justice system. You’ll just have to take my word for it that this case represents the worst injustice perpetrated by the courts that I’ve encoutered in 22 years as a journalist, and I include the debacle that is Lockerbie because the people affected by this decision are children and they’re still alive.
You wouldn’t believe this was possible in Scotland, or anywhere in the UK, but within a culture of secret courts, supposedly *to protect children, anything can happen because the lawyers know no one is watching.
While desperate mothers betrayed by the courts fight for access to their children, who are usually desperate to return to living with their mums, often without the benefit of public money, the Scottish Legal Aid Board writes out blank cheques to murderers and rapists like that vile piece of scum William Beggs to enable them to complain about their prison food.
Is this a country we’re happy to live in?
*The notion of holding these courts in secret to protect children is a myth. In criminal cases of child sexual abuse, journalists can listen to the evidence and report on it. We must not reveal any information that would give away the identity of the child, so obviously we have to take special care when the accused is a relative of the child and care has to be taken that all the media report it in the same way so that composite identification does not occur by people reading two different versions of the same story. In civil cases, the same would apply. We would not want to identify children and we would not be able to, so why the difference in terms of our access? Secret courts do nothing to protect children, because the law protects them anyway (from identification, if little else). The secrecy exists to protect the lawyers and the legal system, which routinely abuses children by forcing them to give evidence in criminal cases in a system geared up for adults. This means they can be cross-examined by multiple defence counsel _ something that judges in England are careful not to allow. In civil courts, the abuse often involves a refusal to listen to what children want, and clear bias towards one party _ most often the father, often a professional with greater access to money and influence. It’s shameful.