CAFCASS; Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service











http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/30/02.htm

The media’s new right to attend family court proceedings should only be overturned in the most exceptional circumstances, the President of the Family Division has been told.

When applications were being made to exclude the media from such hearings, the media also had a right to be properly informed of the application and the reasons behind it, said Gavin Millar QC, representing a group of media organisations.

His comments came at a hearing yesterday at which the media were opposing an application they should be excluded from hearings in a case involving a celebrity, a child and the child’s mother.

The hearing was in private, although journalists were allowed to attend.

Richard Spearman QC, for the celebrity, had argued that as a general rule in cases involving celebrities and their children, the requirement to protect their privacy would require that journalists should be excluded from the hearings.

He also argued that protection of celebrities and children’s privacy meant that when applications were made for journalists to be excluded from all or parts of hearings, the media should not be told the reasons on which such applications were based.

The case is the first in which the Family Division has had to consider the operation of the new system of openness in the family court and the rule allowing the exclusion of journalists from all or parts of hearings in certain circumstances.

It is believed that Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division, intends to use the case to set out guidance for the courts on the approach to be taken.
The new rules allowing the media into family proceedings hearings provide that journalists may be excluded from all or part of a hearing if this is necessary in the interests of any child concerned in or connected with the proceedings, or for the safety or protection of a party or witness or person connected with such a person, or for the orderly conduct of proceedings, or if justice would otherwise be impeded or prejudiced.

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http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/30/01.htm

A Somerset MP has raised concerns about the safety of data held for the government’s new child register scheme.

ContactPoint will retain records of all 11 million children in the UK. It aims to provide a database to be used by those working in child protection.

Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose said he was worried that the data collected in the project could be lost.

However Wansdyke MP Dan Norris, a former social worker, said the data was vital to safeguard children.

The information contained by ContactPoint will be accessible to at least 390,000 people nationwide, including health visitors and social workers.

It aims to provide a single point of contact to help avoid tragedies such as the Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter cases.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/27/03.htm

When parents separate, grandparents can find themselves cut off from grandchildren with no rights. The law should change

Stage lights sway beside the tall trees in Regents Park theatre on Saturday night, casting a golden glow on Beatrice and her reluctant wooer, Benedick. It was shivering cold, but our hearts were warm, first because of the play, but also because I was there in the company of my grandson. Much Ado had been a set text at school so he got the plot and understood the rude jokes as much as I did. The following morning we were off again, just the two of us, grandma and grandson, heading for the British Library and its exhibition of Henry VIII. Yes, my grandson is already in his teens and enjoys these one-to-one weekends almost as much as I do.

Jimmy and Margaret Deuchars in Glasgow had a fine time with their granddaughters at half-term, too. The two teenagers stayed over in their home and went on outings to Loch Lomond and such, just the sort of treats grandparents enjoy sharing. But in Jimmy and Margarets case it hasnt always been that easy.

The Deuchars lost their daughter to breast cancer only weeks after her second baby was born. Her husband soon married again and moved away to Liverpool. His new family took precedence in his life and the grandparents found contact hard. Their requests to keep in touch came to nothing. They realised that they had lost more than their daughter. But they werent willing to accept the situation, and went to court. The laws of this country do not acknowledge any legal relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. However, after a somewhat heated negotiation, the families came to an agreement. In the years that followed they would meet their granddaughters once a month at Carlisle Castle or the Tesco near by. It wasnt much of a family life, but it would have to do. However, they didnt stop there.

When I was first a grandparent, about 17 years ago, grandparents didnt have much of a profile. They were simply bundled in with the general family background and not expected to have much of a role. All that has changed, and people such as Miriam Stoppard are writing delicious books about the joys and rewards, but also about the skills and pitfalls of what I suppose must be called grand parenting. Being a grandparent, it seems to me, can be gloriously free of rule books and restrictions. There is only one qualification parentage and after that you make it up as you go along.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/27/02.htm

West Sussex County Council is starting to ‘close the gap’ on a shortage of social workers in children’s services, members were told.

Cllr James Walsh asked how many of the vacancies required to be filled to meet the demands of the children’s delivery programme had been filled since the council last met.

Leader Cllr Henry Smith said he did not have an exact figure to date, but he could say that Pfund500,000 of extra investment provided earlier this year had resulted in more children’s social workers being recruited.

“We are starting to close the gap on the number of social worker vacancies for children’s services, and for adults’ services as well,” he added.

This was a key priority for the county council, but it was very

difficult to get people to enter social care at the moment hardly

surprising given the extreme adverse publicity the profession had faced in the last year or so.

The situation was particularly challenging in West Sussex, which was competing with authorities in Greater London for staff.

“This is something we have an absolute commitment to resolve,” he told the council.

Cllr Smith was questioned by Cllr Irene Richards about why a target set under a ‘local area agreement’ involving the county council, police, health service and other local authorities for reducing fatal and serious road accidents had not been met, and whether any additional measures were proposed to achieve this.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/27/01.htm

THE CIVIL Partnership Bill giving statutory rights to gay and lesbian couples will be enacted and operational by the end of the year, the Government said yesterday.

The Bill was published yesterday by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern.

It will allow same-sex couples to register their civil partnership and allow them to enjoy the same statutory protection as married couples across a wide range of areas. However, it stops short of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The rights and obligations include the protection of a shared home, pension rights, the right to succession and equality with married couples of treatment under the tax and social welfare codes.

According to the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, thousands of couples in Ireland will be in a position to register their relationship from early next year.

The second major feature of the Bill is a new redress scheme for unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples, and for same-sex couples who have not registered.

The scheme will afford protection to a financially dependent person when a long-term relationship comes to an end. The cohabitation scheme covers a number of scenarios, including bereavement and the break-up of a relationship.

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley welcomed the Bill, calling it a major breakthrough for gay and lesbian couples in Irish society. He said it had involved many meetings with Mr Ahern and his officials, and had taken a lot of time because of its complex nature.I believe its the start of a process and today is a major step forward in terms of equality.

Mr Gormley said the party still favoured marriage rights for gay and lesbian people. He said any move in that direction was contingent on the outcome of the case that has been taken by Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone to have their Canadian marriage recognised in Ireland.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/26/02.htm

Social services are in the dock again after a toddler was left to die at the hands of a schoolboy babysitter despite repeated warnings that she was in grave danger.

Demi-Leigh Mahon, two, was punched, kicked and bitten by 15-year-old Karl McCluney, while her drug-addict mother was out collecting child benefit.

The little girl suffered at least 68 separate injuries.

As McCluney was convicted of murder the catalogue of failings by social services was finally revealed.

An independent report found that social workers should have taken action. They knew that Demi-Leigh was being raised in a drugs den.

Members of the public and neighbours had told children’s services that the child was left crying a lot and that her mother, Ann-Marie McDonald, was injecting heroin and was unable to care for her.

Police had reports of domestic abuse.

Yet at no point did social services intervene, and Demi-Leigh was never placed on the ‘at risk’ register.

The case is the second in two years in which Salford social services – branded inadequate by Ofsted in 2007 – have been found to be at fault.

However, no one has been disciplined over the errors which enabled Demi-Leigh’s mother to leave her daughter with McCluney, who had previously threatened to beat up a teacher and stab another man.

In March last year 31-year-old Miss McDonald – known as Sindy – was given a rehabilitation order after being convicted of supplying heroin and cocaine from her flat in Eccles, near Manchester. But she failed to comply and took Demi-Leigh to a friend’s flat, resulting in a warrant for her arrest.

On July 15, she left her daughter with McCluney at his father’s flat. It was his 15th birthday. When Demi-Leigh began crying he flew into a rage. He subjected the defenceless toddler to an appalling assault, punching her in the face, biting her and kicking her.

 View summaries of the case reviews here.



{July 1, 2009}   Michael Jackson dies

http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/26/01.htm

King of pop music, Michael Jackson has died. He was 50.

As news of his death came through, CNN interviewing legend Larry King said this world is a sad place tonight.

He dies at a time when he was planning one of the biggest comebacks in pop history and was lined-up for gigs in Britain.

Zimdiaspora joins the music fans around the world in mourning the passing of the greatest entertainer of our generation. We cannot imagine the impact his death will have from around the world, including Zimbabwe, Victorial Falls and Harare where he visited in the late 1990s.

Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon at his Holmby Hill home and paramedics were unable to revive him. We’re told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back.

Michael is survived by three children: Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince “Blanket” Michael Jackson II.

In 2004, Jackson seriously considered a touring Zimbabwe, South Africa and Senegal to raise money to fight AIDS.

Jackson had 13 number one hits during his solo career.

Michael Jackson is referred to as King of Pop in the same manner that “The King of Rock and Roll” is given to rock legend Elvis Presley.

The title “King of Pop” was allegedly first coined by Elizabeth Taylor. The term has commonly been mistaken as being “self proclaimed” by Michael Jackson, though it was his fans that first gave him the title, which was later accepted by mainstream.

Critics have questioned whether Michael Jackson is still the King of Pop. His 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling all-original album of all time, with over 59 million records sold to date.

In February of 2005, Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video was voted No.1 on the UK Channel 4’s vote for the 100 Greatest Pop Videos of all time.

Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana), is an African-American singer, dancer, screenwriter, songwriter, record producer and one of the recognizable names in the world. Jackson began his career as the lead singer of Motown act The Jackson 5 in the 1960s and 1970s. After beginning a full-fledged solo career in 1979, Jackson went on to become one of the most successful solo artists in music history .He is known as the King of the Music Video and the King of Pop, a nickname that Elizabeth Taylor gave him in 1989 during an awards ceremony.

He has, however, been dogged by media fascination with his alleged transracially changing physical appearance and what some perceive as an eccentric lifestyle, resulting in his being nicknamed Wacko Jacko. Jackson’s skin color, which he attributes to vitiligo, is believed to have been bleached by some. Jackson uses makeup in his public appearances, and is protected from the sun by a parasol when he is outdoors. Jackson believes that the media’s coverage of him is fueled by racism. Jackson and others claimed, that in 2002, he outsold Elvis Presley, the first white rock star. Comparisons with Elvis are difficult to verify due to the lack of reliable sales information.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/25/14.htm

A local authority’s child protection system is due to come under fresh scrutiny.

Doncaster Children Safeguarding Board is publishing the findings of the serious case reviews into the deaths of Amy Howson and Alfie Goddard, who were both known to the town’s social services department.

The deaths placed the local authority under the national spotlight after it emerged that seven children had died while under the care of Doncaster Council’s children’s services department since 2004.

Sixteen-month-old Amy died in December 2007 after her spine was snapped in two. Her father, James Howson, 25, from Nelson Road, Doncaster, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to a minimum of 22 years in prison.

The toddler was malnourished and dehydrated and had been punched and slapped on numerous occasions, suffering fractures to her arms, legs and ribs.

Alfie, from the Toll Bar area of Doncaster, was just three months old when he died at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in May 2008.

A post-mortem examination showed he had suffered a fatal head injury two days earlier. His father, Craig Goddard, 24, squeezed, shook and then threw him to the floor after he lost his temper when he refused to stop crying. Goddard had been drinking and had smoked several cannabis joints.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/25/13.htm

A judge has today spoken of her disappointment that few journalists are taking up the opportunity to report on family court proceedings.

The Ministry of Justice opened up the family courts to the media at the end of April as part of plans for greater openness in the justice system.

But Lynn Roberts, a judge at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that, after the initial interest, journalists were not attending day-to-day hearings.

And she said it was a shame that journalists only appeared to be interested in the more high-profile cases involving celebrities.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm on the first day – I had three journalists in my court on the first day – but I haven’t seen anybody since,” she told the programme this morning.

“I think it’s going to be cases which are perceived to be of particular public interest rather than the run-of-the-mill cases, which I think in a way is a bit of shame because it would be helpful if the public got an idea of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis rather than the spectacular celebrity cases.”

Roberts added: “We have a very good system in my view and I’m quite proud of how we do things and I think it would be very good for more people to understand how we reach these very difficult decisions.”

Times journalist Camilla Cavendish, who won British Press Awards campaign of the year for her battle to open up the family courts, said: “It is still extremely unclear what we can report on and what we can read.

“The Family court relies heavily on expert witness documents, which are not accessible to the press.



http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/news/archive/2009/june/25/12.htm

The family of two children who died on a holiday in Corfu have reacted angrily after a manslaughter trial was delayed until February.

Christi Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert, of Horbury, West Yorkshire, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in October 2006.

Thomas Cook holiday reps Richard Carson, 27, and Nicola Gibson, 25, face charges of manslaughter and negligence.

The family said Thomas Cook’s request for an adjournment was “disrespectful”.

The trial was due to start on Thursday but was adjourned until 4 February after legal applications by the defendants.

Paul Wood, the children’s stepfather, read a statement saying: “Unfortunately Thomas Cook led us to believe that they wouldn’t request the case to be adjourned.

“They continue to play these games with the memory of our children Christi and Bobby and we find this extremely disrespectful.

“We flew from England at great personal cost because we have faith in the Greek justice system. Our pain for the loss of our children cannot be expressed in words.

“We wish for the legal process to come to an end soon, doing justice to our children’s memories so we can then try to rebuild our lives.”

The defendants are accused of causing manslaughter by negligence in relation to the children, and of causing bodily injury by negligence to Mr Shepherd and Ms Beatson, who recovered after being overcome by fumes.

Ten Greeks, including staff from the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Gouvia, where the family were staying, were also due to be tried.

Mr Shepherd and Ms Beatson flew to Corfu for the trial, as did the children’s mother Sharon Wood and her husband Paul.



et cetera