FROM BRUSSELS Pilgrimage to McKenzie Crusade: in defence of justice for future generations

The first McKenzie Friend was created out of the need for legal help due to the lack of money to pay professionals in 1970.

In 2009 I began acting as McKenzie Friend and web publisher for Maurice J Kirk BVSc. Since 14 October 2013, he has been held ‘on remand’ in HMP Cardiff and asked me to continue to uphold the level of quality for this ‘brand’.

In June 2011 a number of us, including Belinda McKenzie, Maurice J Kirk and Ian Josephs, met at the Royal Courts of Justice to support the Nigerian Musa couple whose five children had been taken by Haringey Police without paperwork in April 2010. Acknowledged to be the worst of all child snatching cases, McKenzie Friends continue to help them since they were imprisoned for seven years!

For the Musa hearing I had produced T-Shirts for ‘McKenzie Angels‘ as supporters for court hearings – with the aid of the late Paulette Cooper. For judges do notice when public galleries are full and even asked us not to take notes in the criminal court of the Musas! Do they know that justice is far from being delivered in their court rooms? That’s why ‘veteran victims’ Maurice Kirk and Norman Scarth have been behind our petition to Abolish the ban on recording court proceedings.

In July 2011, Ian Josephs and I were refused as McKenzie Friends for the Musas, also after producing a hand written CV there and then. Other victims of child snatching have said they have been told they can’t have Ian Josephs as a McKenzie Friend.

On other occasions I was asked to leave half way through the procedures and to come ‘with proper attire’, as the T-shirt didn’t seem appropriate, or ‘because I don’t understand confidentiality or ‘because I was not independent’, as on 10 December 2013 in Lincoln Court on behalf of the Portuguese Pedros.

In February 2012, Belinda McKenzie suggested to form the Association of McKenzie Friends as an unincorporated body of volunteers.

On 08 April 2014, Belinda and I were ‘joined to the case’ of Melissa Laird for the purpose of costs.

Coincidentally, the Legal Consumer Panel published the report Fee-charging McKenzie Friends which says:

  • a ‘culture change‘ is needed;
  • McKenzie Friends need to be portrayed in a more positive way in the fourth of its 15 recommendations.

Meanwhile an online war goes on via comments in the Law Gazette about the report, while we were confronted with:

  • an increase from £80 to £155 as the fee for an Application Notice is one of the changes to High Court Fees 2014;
  • the Admin Court not wanting to accept our application as we were ‘not on the record‘;
  • eventually realising that we had been ‘joined to the case for the purposes of costs‘ and taking our papers, after having happily accepted our money. However, the refund that was due to having accepted a Judicial Review that should not have been accepted caused Belinda to be sent up and down between two of their offices twice. It’s very strange when antiquated thinking in historic buildings tries to become ‘commercial’.

It’s all about money. What if

And regarding McKenzie Friends, how about acknowledging the difference between the need for McKenzie Friends in Family Courts and prisons, besides other civil or criminal matters:

  • friendship‘ varies from ‘tea and sympathy’ to sending cash for stamps and being at the end of a phone for prisoners;
  • advice‘ varies from answering questions to writing letters and making phone calls to Social Services;
  • assistance‘ can mean drafting and submitting documents to courts;
  • litigation‘ means effectively running and managing a case which could include the right of audience or at least advising the litigant during court hearings;
  • advocacy‘ means campaigning in the public interest – to us at least
  • or making Freedom of Information and Data Subject Access requests – in the public interest.

The term ‘litigation friend‘ is used on some forms and seems to have yet certain implications.

The right of audience may be on top of the ‘tree of rights’, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee fair trials and compensation and is ‘up to the discretion of the individual judge’.

Web publishing aka exposure or publicity – is the very soul of justice:

It is the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. — Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832)

Between 1852 and 1853 Charles Dickens published Bleak House in 20 instalments.

In 2014, we seem to need many more articles on blogs and petitions to counteract abuse in courts and corridors of power…

Our latest petition is Release Robert Green on Compassionate Grounds, Please!


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About Sabine Kurjo McNeill

I'm a mathematician and system analyst formerly at CERN in Geneva and became an event organiser, software designer, independent web publisher and online promoter of Open Justice. My most significant scientific contribution is
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15 Responses to FROM BRUSSELS Pilgrimage to McKenzie Crusade: in defence of justice for future generations

  1. says:

    Still fighting for justice for my father and us. We witnessed what went on and witnessed the deliberate killing.

    See Ralph Winstanley was a very successful family businessman who had built up a £m business with his children and ex wife.

    We found out after his killing all of dad’s financial affairs were taken out of his hands without his or our knowledge. In a Doncaster Family Court in february 1991.

    Clayton and the solicitor dad thought was representing him, had organised a court case in his name against my brother without his knowledge. Dad found a document on 8th April 2004 and told me he had stopped the case and sacked the Solicitor, refusing to pay him a penny more.

    Clayton and this solicitor turned up at court 6 days after the killing to carry on with this case.

    So much evidence, yet South Yorkshire Police will not investigate, Doncaster Coroner recused himself 30th March 2005 and states he passed only documents he thought necessary to the new Coroner, who again did not contact either of dad’s Consultants why? did money change hands or were they covering up their mates mistakes/killings. Shipman was ignored for many years coming from the Yorkshire Area originally.

    Linda Kirby

  2. Anonymous says:

    In light of the current attacks upon McKenzie Friends and in particular on Facebook.
    I have acted as McKenzie Friend and am aware of other capable McK Friends.
    I wish to place on record that I am yet to find a McKenzie Friend that charge for their services.
    So whatever the agenda is to character assassinate McK Friends I suggest that not all are tarred with the same brush.

    • The report on Fee-charging McKenzie Friends says that only 6.5% of the general public know what they do.

      I have spoken to one who charges £50 / hour and one who wants to set herself up after 4 years of law studies and charge £40 / hour.

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  12. wooddustaffected says:

    Hi, Are you aware that Maurice Kirk has gone missing?

  13. wooddustaffected says:

    Hi, Are you aware that Maurice Kirk the flying vet has gone missing?

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