McKenzie Friends Could Be Integrated Into Family Courts Under New Guidelines

Researching Reform

A newly published report looking at ways to protect vulnerable witnesses in private family law proceedings suggests closer collaboration between judges and McKenzie friends could offer a solution to the current problems.

The document, which was prepared by Family Law researchers at the Ministry of Justice, outlines several ways to protect vulnerable witnesses likely to be cross examined directly in court by their alleged abusers:

  • Making public funding available to provide the vulnerable party with an advocate
  • Greater support from judges, including relaying questions to the vulnerable witness on the alleged abuser’s behalf
  • Creating an inquisitorial system where judges are fully trained to deal with the issues involved
  • Strengthening links between the judiciary, the courts, and external organisations like McKenzie Friends and the Bar Pro Bono Unit
  • Producing a ‘Vulnerability’ assessment to best address the individual needs of each witness in a private family law case

The report also has some interesting…

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Whom do you trust: solicitors, barristers, judges or #McKenzieFriends? @MoJGovUK

16-12-10-mck-friendsShould McKenzie Friends be more questionable and less trustworthy than solicitors, barristers and judges?

Especially when they work pro bono as we do?

It’s all about money, isn’t it: for he who pays the piper plays the tune! Does the legal profession care whether money in circulation adheres to the Bank of England Act 1694? Do they understand what is dishonest with our money system? Would a book on Capitalism and Morality make a difference?

Legal professionals are paid by Legal Aid or from private wealth. Whether they do or don’t achieve ‘justice’ seems to be a question of which barrister is better at the ping pong that judges observe before them.

I’m told that judgments are written before hearings and that barristers and judges agree them between each other.

It’s a game of nit-picking, without any holistic or systemic approach. It’s an opportunity for abusing power and position. It’s an invitation to commit fraud and malfeasance in public office.  Continue reading

Posted in Acting as McKenzie Friend, Public Interest Advocacy, Secrecy Family Courts, Stolen Children of the UK | 5 Comments

From #AusterityJustice to Access to #ProsperityJustice? #HLEThinkTank @MoJGovUK @JoshuaRozenbergQC

The future of Legal Aid and Litigants in Person: can we Safeguard Access to Justice? was an excellent event chaired by Joshua Rozenberg and organised by the Halsbury Law Exchange last night 22.09.2016.

One of the four panellists was Steve Hynes, the author of “Austerity Justice”.

In the morning I was cheered up with “Go on, Love”, as my walking sticks took me to the tube.

“Carry on, Soldier”, I thought when I spoke with a retired Crown Prosecutor who used to work with Austin Mitchell MP on the Campaign for a National Legal Service (CNLS). On behalf of the Forum for Stable Currencies, Austin had submitted Early Day Motions to ensure Public Credit for Public Purposes from 2001 to 2011.

On the legal issue of the supposed ‘neutrality’ and ‘independence’ of the Judiciary:

  • who decides on its budget?
  • who finances court buildings, judges, court staff, prisons?
  • the money does not seem to come out of Governments budgets – but last night everybody seemed to assume that Government is responsible for the quality of the ‘justice system’.

On the financial power to control, maybe we need to go back to the Enforcement of the Bank of England Act 1694:

  • it made trading ‘financial products’ punishable – at three times the value of the trade!

Continue reading

Posted in Acting as McKenzie Friend, Early Day Motions, HM Government, Public Interest Advocacy, The Judiciary | 17 Comments

@educationgov #Children and #SocialWork Bill @UKHouseofLords: paving the way for predators?

16 07 04 HoLLord WARNER, as a former Director of Social Services, feels strongly about the need for protecting children in care from predatory adults.

If you click on the image, you get to Parliament Live. The next reading will be on Wednesday at 3.45pm.

Lord Warner wants to ensure the integrity of the proposed ‘personal advisors’ by requesting:

  1. safeguards re performance standards
  2. vetting re suitability
  3. a public register.

He also mentions these examples from his work experience: Continue reading

Posted in House of Lords, Public Interest Advocacy, Stolen Children of the UK | Leave a comment

@coe Beyond #Brexit: monitoring the implementation of #EU Resolution 2016/2575(RSP) to Safeguard the Best Interests of Children across the @EU

16 06 26 Trends 1200 675 bSehr geehrter Herr Präsident, dear Political Group Leaders,

In the wake of the UK Referendum and its repercussions, this is to request you to take into account the implementation of EU Resolution 2016/2575(RSP) on Safeguarding the Best Interests of the Child across the EU on the Basis of Petitions addressed to the EU Parliament. UK and non-UK parents and children deeply require our support for their future. In the UK, 23% of the prison population were in ‘care’, but official statistics show trends of ‘forced removals’ and ‘forced adoptions’ rising consistently since 1994:

For a number of reasons, the UK has been worst in offending the UN Convention of Child Rights and we therefore had to ‘go to Europe’ – with 30 parents hoping to get their children returned – relying on EU Directives, after the UK Judiciary, Parliament and Government had failed us badly.

International Reports with recommendations by the UN and the Council of Europe have had no effect, but the Fact-Finding visit of MEPs and other PETI activities have – yet only as a small beginning! As further encouraging signs, involvements by Tatjana Zdanoka MEP and Yana Toom MEP in individual cases resulted in success in England and Scotland by having children returned which is, however, extremely rare.

Continue reading

Posted in Acting as McKenzie Friend, EU Commission, EU Parliament, Forced Adoption, HM Government, Petitions Committee, Public Interest Advocacy, Stolen Children of the UK | 5 Comments

Judicial Review: What is meant by “totally without merit”

UK Human Rights Blog

Samia Wasif and another v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWCA Civ 82

Read judgment here

What is the difference between a case that is “totally without merit” and one that is “not arguable”? Are either of those more or less hopeless than a case that is “bound to fail”?

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@coe @MoJGovUK STOP the FORCED REMOVAL of CHILDREN from their PARENTS: Rising Trends in Care Statistics in UK, Germany and Sweden

16 06 08 Children in Foster CareThis is the Executive Summary of a report I’ve called a ‘petition’. For I sent the 11-page text to the Petitions Secretariat and MEPs in Brussels.

I also submitted it to my constituency MP Tulip Siddiq – for her to put into the petition ‘bag’ – thus following former MP John Hemming who did so with Children Placed in Foster Care in September 2013.

I’ll obviously send it to other MPs who hopefully will make a difference. Maybe you can send it to yours? And ask your Local Council for their statistics on ‘Looked After Children’?

The Executive Summary says:

This petition requests the STOPPING of all forced removals of children from their parents as this crime against humanity emerges, not only in the UK but across Europe, not only recently, but with a rising trend since the 1990’s.

Based on official statistics from the UK, Germany and Sweden, this petition presents activities that are unacceptable in any democratic society; let alone one that claims to subscribe to the Fundamental Charter of Human Rights, the European Convention of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Child Rights.

Continue reading

Posted in Acting as McKenzie Friend, EU Parliament, HM Government, Parliament, Parliamentary Petition, Petitions Committee, Public Interest Advocacy, Stolen Children of the UK | 5 Comments

Save @NormanScarth #WWII Veteran and #McKenzieFriend from CPS, WYP and ICO

Victims Unite!

16 05 28 Norman ScarthNorman Scarth was a remarkable horse whisperer and has recently celebrated his 90th birthday in Ireland. He fled his native country to be safe from another period in prison or mental hospital, where his enemies would like to see him – for no good reason at all – except negative attitudes such as abuse of power and position – “because they can.”

In this online petition directed at the Prime Minister, Alan Dransfield is asking for a Public Inquiry into the Information Commissioner’s Office [ICO], West Yorkshire Police [WYP] and the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] regarding Norman’s appalling treatment.

Norman’s experiences are in one life what I’ve observed in soo many victims who had to act as Litigant in Person [LiP] because the legal profession was not supportive. As a result, they became starfighters, campaigners, McKenzie Friends, McKenzie Angels, activists and Public Interest Advocates. Hence these 

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@MoJ Who’s Afraid of #McKenzieFriends? Why? NO BAN on paid McKenzie Friends! #McKenzieAngels FLY!

16 05 26 ConsultationThe Lord Chief Justice‘s Consultation on Reforming the Courts’ Approach to McKenzie Friends came out on the day we won our ‘costs case‘: after we’ve been helping Melissa Laird in all sorts of roles in HMP Holloway, the Treasury Solicitor‘s Office thought they needed their money back that they had paid to a private barrister to ‘beat’ us.

The consultation was recently discussed with the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority – with the result: No Case for ban on paid McKenzie Friends and VERY interesting comments regarding the chaos of the legal system – created by money and ‘professional insurance’ above all else.

Submissions by voluntary McKenzie Friends have been made – in chronological order – by:

  1. Natasha Phillips – publisher of the excellent blog Researching Reform;
  2. Mr Anonymous;
  3. Deborah Mahmoudieh – fearless campaigner and multi-issue advocate;
  4. myself.

McKenzie Angels are generally supportive – especially in the public gallery of court rooms – rather than active in terms of writing or presenting submissions to courts.

Posted in Acting as McKenzie Friend, Admin Court, Court of Appeal, HM Government, Master of the Rolls Office, Public Interest Advocacy, Right of Audience, Royal Courts of Justice, Secrecy Family Courts, The Judiciary, The Lord Chief Justice, Treasury Solicitor's Office | 2 Comments

@MoJ Eradicating the needs for #McKenzieFriends? Our response to the Lord Chief Justice’s consultation

16 05 26 ConsultationReforming the courts’ approach to McKenzie Friends

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[1] 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![2]

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? Continue reading

Posted in Acting as McKenzie Friend, Master of the Rolls Office, The Judiciary, The Lord Chief Justice | 4 Comments