This response to the consultation goes beyond the scope of questions posed, as this is written on behalf of an unestimable number of Courts’ Victims and McKenzie Friends with a variety of experiences in and out of courts.
I am a systems analyst who used to diagnose software at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research in Geneva, publish 32 websites and petitions as Voices for the Voiceless and have played many roles as McKenzie Friend. This includes the receipt of ‘gagging orders’ faked by local councils.
More recently, assisting a mother to get her children returned and protecting other child victims at risk, led to what we have been campaigning against and Harriet Harman MP alerted Parliament in 2006 to: 200 parents a year are imprisoned in secrecy!
Hence I am writing not only as an advocate of Children’s Rights, but also as a victim of Human Rights violation due to court secrecy – from personal experience of threats of imprisonment and the reality of arrests and prosecution.
Replacing the term ‘McKenzie Friend’ or eradicating the need for McKenzie Friends?
- There is hardly a need for ‘rebranding’ McKenzie Friends, as the term is known to only 6% of the population, according to the report produced by the Consumer Panel of Legal Services on Fee Charging McKenzie Friends. Furthermore:
- The case that created the name established that people need McKenzie Friends, because they cannot afford professional help.
- Since then, however, more and more victims of white collar crimes have been looking for McKenzie Friends, for they are dissatisfied with legal professionals or have become their victims.
- The rising demand for McKenzie Friends should thus be seen as the failure of funding the national economy as a whole and of access to justice in particular.
- This leads to the Enforcement of the Bank of England Act 1694, where the writers of the Act intended to “avoid the oppression of Their Majesties’ subjects.” This unwanted oppression is now taking place on a large scale and on many levels – due to money as a tool for control, particularly via professionals in public service institutions.
- Besides assisting LiPs, we have been acting as Public Interest Advocates. In this process, we invented McKenzie Angels to distinguish between legal assistance and pastoral, financial or court support in the public gallery or otherwise.
- Via our website,which has had over 76,000 visits since February 2013, we have had mainly calls from victims of the family court system, especially mothers, where help with Police, Social Services and ‘Experts’ is also required as support roles.
- Different terms for different roles are reflected on Victims Unite: [512,000 views]: victims turned starfighters, online campaigners, human rights activists, McKenzie Friends and Public Interest Advocates.
- The list of victims includes all those often termed vexatious litigants who have been unlawfully sectioned, fraudulently bankrupted, imprisoned and defrauded by white-collar criminality. Many have suffered in addition police and prison brutality. An unrecorded number have died from ill-health and suicides.
Acting as ‘Court Supporters’ or Defending Litigants-in-Person?
- McKenzie Friends especially members of the Association of McKenzie Friends cannot be called ‘court supporters’ due to the ambiguity of the term which implies we are in favour of the court and its arcane processes when mostly we are severely critical of them and often ourselves under attack from them. The attacks may also be on those sitting in the public gallery identified as supporting the LiP.
Our loyalty is always to the litigant and to ‘Open Justice’, not to the court. Open Justice and ‘Making sense of Justice’ are the titles of the official website, regarding criminal justice. In family courts, ‘court supporters’ or ‘litigant friends’ are ‘discretionary’. Why?
- In a criminal case that fraudulently ensued from the family court, a court usher told us that the jury was rigged. Hence the parents were deported and their children kept in care, despite having reported abuse in care.
- Our members also had to fight a case to be allowed to take notes in the public gallery which two judges had disallowed. Is that indicative of ‘open justice’, ‘human rights’ or ‘fair trial’?
- Similarly, a veteran victim who was hard of hearing, was imprisoned for recording court proceedings. This seems pre-historic in the 21st century where everybody has a phone that can record. To Abolish the Ban on recording court proceedings would be a simple way forward.
- In fact, court records and transcripts being redacted or missing are among the many white collar crimes that victims have suffered.
- Furthermore, we have to make the sad observation that once fraudulent crimes are being committed by Public Authorities, the fear of losing job and pension are such that mistakes are not being admitted, and apologies and compensation are rare exceptions.
- Instead, following the ‘model’ of Hillsborough, cover-ups are organised, leading to stitch-ups, as in my own case.
- Blue-collar Police traumatise ‘criminal suspects’, while they are ‘innocent until proven guilty’, as far as white-collar court officials are concerned. Is that the desired ‘making sense of Open Justice”?
- From my experience of hearing victim stories since the late nineties, it is rather touching that most people seem to want to have their pain and suffering heard and acknowledged, without expecting compensation.
- The publication of their cases on the web is thus a ‘soothing first-aid’ but in no way addresses the underlying problems. Yet taking the worst of all bankruptcies to Ministers didn’t achieve anything either.
- The demand for McKenzie Friends in civil courts should thus be seen as a result of increasing white and blue collar criminality and decreasing ethics, morals and professionalism in public institutions.
- This should be associated with what’s dishonest with our money system, i.e. the Bank of England that operates without compliance to the Bank of England Act 1694.
Practice Guidance or Rules of Court?
- From the Public’s point of view, there is no difference between Practice Guidance and Rules of Court. The distinction relates to a professional culture to which non-professionals are not privy, whether as inadvertent victim of criminals, client of fee-charging or protégé of voluntary McKenzie Friends.
- It seems that legal professionals make up the rules as they go along – without scrutiny or accountability.
- Ethics and Justice Panels for Public Accountability might be a structural remedy.
Rights of Audience while Children are Screaming to be Heard?
- What would justify the distinction between rights of audience in a family or in a civil court, except the need to cover-up criminal activities by secrecy?
- Why should there be ‘Contempt of Court’ in a democracy determined by social media?
- One of the veterans of McKenzie Friends is Ian Josephs LlB Oxon who publishes Forced-Adoption.com. At the recent Children Screaming to be Heard conference, he suggested once again, that no child should be taken away from its biological parents unless or until they have been convicted in a criminal court. This simple prescription would eliminate most family court cases and thus the current demand for McKenzie Friends.
- Former pilot Len Lawrence has been asset stripped by judges in the Court of Protection who were not even authorised for that court. His presentation to the conference covered the Abuse of psychiatry in the UK Legal System.
- Our experience includes a number of parents who were wrongly imprisoned so that they could be deported, while their children are kept in the UK care system. Is ‘Open Justice’ in criminal courts the answer to this glaring violation of the right to Fair Trial, Family Life, Human and Children’s Rights?
- In her remark about ‘secret prisoners’, Harriet Harman MP referred to the work of the Constitutional Affairs Committee which doesn’t seem to have made any difference in 10 years.
- Assisting LiPs in HMP establishments needs to be addressed, as our experience shows that lawyers take their Legal Aid money and run, without doing anything in the interest of their clients.
- However, the Treasury Solicitor’s Office took us to court for ‘costs’ incurred after we assisted a mother in HMP Holloway whose application has still not been heard, since she was deported, while her non-UK son has been kept by LB Barnet.
- Complaint procedures are only ‘fob-off mechanisms’.
- The Law Society and ACPO have been identified as culprits, but how could we as McKenzie Friends address this institutionalised culture of NOT delivering justice, with or without Rights of Audience?
Information for Courts re McKenzie Friends?
- Suitably designed forms outlining different roles for McKenzie Friends could possibly be helpful, but LiPs have been helped without forms so far. Why now?
Code of Conduct for McKenzie Friends?
- The need for McKenzie Friends arose because Professionals Oaths don’t seem to work for professionals – whether judges, barristers, solicitors, experts, police or social workers.
- How could Codes of Conduct for McKenzie Friends rectify this professional deficiency?
Practice Guidance or Rule of Court?
- A systemic approach to information systems would result in ‘Plain Language Guides’ that should, above all, offer Plain Procedures, Plain Remedies and Plain Application Forms – with suitable NAMES rather than meaningless abbreviations.
- To supplant the current myriad of publications with yet more ‘guides’ may act as first-aid for the currently challenging situation, but won’t repair it.
- The accelerating shift from paper to screens needs to take into account
- ‘drop-down menus’ with the right choices for courts and jurisdiction;
- ‘bullet language’ with the right points for procedures and forms;
- and lists of options for the right remedies and arguments.
Plain Language Guides
- Another body writing more guides will not bring about the renewal in thinking that is required in our age where the pace of change is determined by technology. A ‘radical’ reform ought to go to the roots of the rising demands for McKenzie Friends:
- UK Justice and the Public Interest or the Interest of Vested Interests?
Vested interests are the unholy marriage between financial interests, especially through ‘passive income’, and the legal profession as providers of services to financial institutions as clients.
The legal framework for professionals in public office is ensured by:
- The omission of Articles 1 and 13 in the UK Human Rights Act – glaringly disallowing a remedy against national authorities despite EU membership;
- Royal Charters as the historic ticket to immunity;
The financial framework for professionals in public office is determined by public funding and public and professional liabiity insurances:
- Please note this Early Day Motion regarding Municipal Mutual Insurance Company and Clwyd County Council;
All in all, the ‘public gravy train’ is running on schedule for professionals, but not in the public interest. Furthermore, the lack of accountability of judges – due to ‘individual discretion’ – seems to be only addressed when it’s too late and the Ministry of Justice sacks them.
- Secret Family Courts in the Interest of Open Justice?
To get desperate calls from parents whose children were taken while only receiving fob-off letters from professionals in public institutions has led us not only to petition the UK but also EU Parliament:
- Children Placed in Foster Care was submitted by former MP John Hemming and published in Hansard on September 2013.
- Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent was submitted in 2013 to the Petitions Committee of the EU Parliament and presented orally in March and November 2014, in January 2015 in support of a Bulgarian family and and has reached 5,800 signatures online;
- Using the secrecy of family courts to cover-up criminal activities is the first amendment to our petition to Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent to the EU Parliament;
- Using Bail Conditions to Prevent Online Exposure of Organised Child Abuse in the UK – the second amendment to the petition;
- In support of Petition 1707 is the account of a former Justice of the Peace (Magistrate) who was unfairly dismissed and felt that MEPs would require the historic background to appreciate the operation of UK Family Courts.
- Abuse of power and position to persecute and prosecute ‘Public Interest Whistleblowers’ who do not expose their employers but Public Authorities. The Child abuse whistleblowing helpline recognised ‘institutional corruption’ and referred me to Police.
- Institutional corruption in general as anticipated by the writers of the Bank of England Act 1694:
- They wanted to avoid the oppression of Their Majesties’ subjects by not allowing the Corporation to trade and by charging a fine;
- In today’s terms, this would mean the Bank of England to pay triple the National Debt to HM Government instead of running a Debt Management Office to ensure interest payments– a deadly sin in Islam and forbidden in most other philosophies and religions;
- The corruption perceptions published by Transparency International put the UK at place 10, showing a trend of improvement since 2012, yet these ‘clean’ countries export corruption globally;
- Institutional corruption in particular, regarding child-snatching and organised child abuse:
- How We Finally Turned into a Nation of Paedophile Hunters is an indication that ‘child sexual abuse’ and ‘child-trafficking’ are at the other end of the ‘follow the money’ spectrum;
- The time might have come for a Royal Commission into Police Procedures to follow the model set by the Royal Commission into New South Wales Police in 1997 which resulted in Corruption, Reform, Paedophilia and Satanic Ritual Abuse as topics of their reports;
- The credibility of the National Inquiry is waning as much as that of the Police:
- “There is a need for an urgent, thorough and pro-active consideration of the nature and extent of satanist ritual abuse of children, including a review of court cases, police and legal procedure, and meetings with victims.” – This recommendation in response to a National Inquiry following the Rochdale scandal got destroyed rather than implemented by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
- Most sex abuse cases go ‘unsolved’, as Police fail to investigate, says judge;
- Hogan-Howe criticised for comments regarding child sex abuse claims.
Codified Rules for Cash
- Today’s ‘codified rules’ are expressed by programmers who permit access to information, determine what is ‘correct’ when filling in forms and thus ‘codify’ the entry to the justice system by Applications on screen rather than on paper.
- The issues of fee-charging and disbursements are secondary to the social phenomenon of a rising demand for McKenzie Friends in their various roles from emotional, moral and financial to legal support.
- By Reforming the courts’ approach to McKenzie Friends, The Lord Chief Justice has the unique opportunity for systemic change, approaching and implementing EU and UN levels of Human and Children’s Rights.
- This implies addressing the abuse of power and position – not to deliver justice but to hide white collar crimes with the aid of
- The Childrens Act
- The Mental Health Act
- The Mental Capacity Act
- The Harassment Act
- The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act re Witness Intimidation
- The Use of Contempt of Court and of Vexatious Litigants
- The Court of Protection as the most secretive and sinister court, according to Christopher Booker in The Telegraph.
- The economic system by Enforcing the Bank of England Act 1694, as requested by Early Day Motions since 2002, thus allowing for ‘clean’ and interest-free money to circulate;
- The legal system by introducing measures of accountability and redress into civil and criminal courts – possibly with the aid of seasoned McKenzie Friends;
- The family court system by allowing children to be removed only after parents have been convicted of crimes against their children – besides remedying what is unique in the UK;
- The system of Public Service Authorities through generally establishing trust again by listening to those who have been traumatised and damaged, if not destroyed altogether professionally, financially and healthwise on emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
Page 14 of Lord Neuberger’s report on Super-Injunctions, Anonymised Injunctions and Open Justice quotes Lord Bingham: “Questions are bound to arise on the line that divides the right to privacy from the right to freedom of expression. In the absence of statutory guidance, the courts will have to decide such questions when challenges are made.
They will be guided by the case law in Strasbourg. They will pay attention to cases in other jurisdictions around the world which have provisions and which have given helpful answers to analogous questions. [In my native Germany, the remedy to ‘witness intimidation’ would be ‘Cease and Desist’.]
The judges will strive to give effect to the public policy underlying the convention. If they fail to do so, they are open to correction by Parliament or by the European Court of Human Rights. [This is unfortunately not our experience.] I find it hard to see why this country—alone among European nations—should fail to reconcile these competing principles in an acceptable manner.”
It is hoped that our appeal to the national ethos of taking the moral highground will remedy not only the reputation of perfidious Albion but also the current state of George Orwell asking “whom do we hate today:” White Collar Crime Victims? Vexatious Litigants in Person? Abuse Survivors? McKenzie Friends?
- My latest experience as ‘Public Interest Whistleblower’ is indicative of professionals protecting themselves, while ‘the public’ is used as throughput for the ‘people processing industry’ – with targets not only for forced adoptions but also crimes:
- four traumatic arrests by Barnet and Kentish Town Police,
- disproportionate bail conditions since August 2015,
- criminalisation by CPS and Kentish Town Police,
- DWP stopping pension credit I have been receiving since 2004 and their Debt Collection Centre hounding me;
- Camden Council and their Concil Tax Office prosecuting me for supposed outstanding debts.
- This list reflects a system of public authorities, paid supposedly by ‘taxpayers money’, to be a model of democracy as an EU member state operating in the spirit of the Fundamental Charter of Rights?
26 May 2016