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Knock knock knocking on Judges’ doors

 

This is a case involving surrogacy – yet another private surrogacy arrangement which unravelled and left a huge wake of ugly disaster behind it.

Re X (a child) no 2 (private surrogacy) 2016

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2016/55.html

 

There’s a part 1 here

 

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2016/54.html

 

Where Holman J refuses the application of the birth mother to reopen the decision of Her Honour Judge Singleton that the child should remain with the commisioners of the surrogacy arrangement – permission to appeal already having been refused.

 

This case has interest for two reasons, really.  The first is that we hear bad things about MacKenzie Friends from time to time  (for example THIS guy, who acted as a MacKenzie Friend in family proceedings and got the partner in his business, who was also his girlfriend, to write a psychological assessment to benefit his client – said girlfriend was not actually a psychologist – not that it would have been okay if she was, but it compounded things. He’s now in prison.   https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/mckenzie-friend-jailed-for-deceit-in-family-court/5058352.article )

 

But I’ve met good, decent MacKenzie Friends, who work damn hard and give valuable assistance to parents who have nowhere else to turn, so it is nice when a High Court Judge gives a good news story about one

There was a strong objection on behalf of the father and mother to Mr Culshaw acting as McKenzie Friend since he, too, is undoubtedly a campaigner, who participated in several of the protests I have mentioned. But many people who are willing and motivated to act as McKenzie Friends are indeed campaigners, and if they were all prevented from doing so on that ground alone, many rather helpless litigants, like the sister in this case, might be left with no effective help or support at all. I wish to record that within the four walls of this courtroom, which is, of course, the extent of my observation of him, Mr Culshaw has acted impeccably and within the proper boundaries of a McKenzie Friend. He has shown respect and courtesy to the court. He has been a model of restraint. He has not sought to become an advocate and nor would I have permitted him to do so, but he has provided visible and obvious help and support to the sister, and he has helped her to formulate sensible and well judged questions.

 

 

The second point of interest is that the birth mother campaigned against Her Honour Judge Singleton’s decision, and did so in creative ways

 

 

  • In August 2015 Her Honour Judge Singleton decided that the child should move from living with the birth mother to living with the father and the mother, and she has done so ever since. The birth mother had changed her mind during the pregnancy and before the birth, and wished to keep and bring up the child herself. There is no doubt that she very bitterly opposed that decision and she has never, at least until this week, accepted that decision. She tried to appeal it. She very actively publicised and campaigned against it online and by protests at the homes of the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, the Minister for Children, Edward Timpson, the previous guardian, Alexandra Sayer, and Her Honour Judge Singleton herself. She issued in May 2016 an application, which was before me this week, for the decision and order of August 2015 to be reversed so that the child returned to live with her. After hearing submissions from the birth mother, I summarily dismissed that application for reasons which I gave in my short judgment last Tuesday, 8 November 2016 at [2016] EWFC 54.

 

She was actually convicted of harassing the Judge, which shows the extent of her behaviour, since Judges don’t make complaints to the police lightly.

Mr Justice Holman discussed that the original Judge had wanted there to be some direct contact between the child and the birth mother, and that he wanted to open the door to that, despite the campaigning, which had clearly crossed the line

 

    1. Like Judge Singleton in August 2015, Mr Sanders does consider that it is in the best interests of the child to have some direct contact with her birth mother and her sister, provided that can be done without destabilising the child or destabilising the father and the mother. I agree with Mr Sanders. He has generously offered to engage in a very active way in this case for at least a year under the provisions of a family assistance order, and with his help the very detailed provisions of the order have been negotiated.
    2. The birth mother has repeatedly said during this hearing that she now absolutely accepts that the child will live with the father and the mother. She has said that she will stop the protesting and campaigning, and will abide by all the detailed provisions of the order.
    3. The father and mother clearly remain very sceptical about that. They both said in evidence yesterday that they remain very scared of what the birth mother may do. They say that if she can campaign with the intensity that she has, including by placing so much material online and by protesting at the homes of so many people, several of them quite unconnected with the case, they cannot have any confidence that she will not carry the campaign to their own home or into the course and content of any contact.
    4. I perfectly understand their position, but I do believe that this hearing has offered an opportunity – albeit only a start – for each side to this dispute to begin to have a greater appreciation and acceptance of the other. All parties have expressed their confidence in Mr Sanders, and said that they will engage with him and move contact forward in line with his recommendations and plan, and with his assistance. In my view it would do a great disservice to the longer term needs and welfare of the child to cut out now any further direct contact with her birth family, for the reason only of the events, however destabilising, of the last year or so.
    5. For these reasons I will make an order in the very detailed terms and conditions which have been drafted, which essentially provides for two occasions of supervised direct contact each year between the child and her birth mother and, on quite separate occasions, her sister, together with forms of indirect contact in the intervening periods.
    6. There are very detailed terms and conditions and “rules” which all parties clearly understand and must adhere to. The birth mother in particular must understand that this is a last chance. She is, of course, entitled in a free society to campaign and to protest, provided she does not break the criminal law. But if she does do so again, the pressure that that puts upon the father and mother will be just too great, and inevitably all the contact which I have so painstakingly striven to promote this week will be jeopardised, probably for ever. I sincerely hope that these long, painful and rather exhausting few days can represent a new beginning, from which all parties can move forward and begin to work together in the best interests of this child whom they all undoubtedly love very dearly.

 

 

I hope it works out for all of them.

 

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About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

19 responses

  1. “But I’ve met good, decent MacKenzie Friends, who work damn hard and give valuable assistance to parents who have nowhere else to turn, so it is nice when a High Court Judge gives a good news story about one”

    It is great that one of the legal profession should say this, especially with the LawSoc etc being so anti.

    I have met great and terrible ones, some of the best have been campaigners and greatly informed by that, but you cannot bring the campaign into court, only your understanding of issues that relate to the case. Some times the campaigning assists that understanding and sometimes it does not and never should the campaign objectives impinge on the interests of the person you are helping, if that is so a judge should throw you out.

    Conversely I have met great and terrible judges, some judges should be thrown out, I can think of two.

  2. ashamedtobebritish

    It will work out for them, I am very sure of this.

    The ‘campaign’ outside the judges house, can only be described as knocking on the door then leaving when asked, a slight over reaction me thinks, however, it was this course of action that allowed this case to be heard, simply because it was the only way to force a judge to recuse herself … something she refused to do as she did not want anyone else getting hold of the case and allowing the birth mother to have contact with the child, that backfired, now this child has finally had their art 8 addressed fairly and properly (i.e. Not on the basis of a dislike for the birth mother)
    Unfortunately, for other judges behaving badly, this will probably set a precedent for other campaigners, I hope not

    • “The ‘campaign’ outside the judges house, can only be described as knocking on the door then leaving when asked”

      Knocking once then leaving when asked, would not be harassment, knock again would be.

      “a slight over reaction me thinks, ” Me thinks too!

      • ashamedtobebritish

        It worked – the mother is an extremely intelligent young lady, she thought this one out to perfection

  3. Pingback: Knock knock knocking on Judges’ doors | C...

  4. A very interesting judgement, as for the view “a slight over reaction”, it is clear, this was a vindictive act, camouflaged as a protest to intimidate the judge, whilst giving genuine protesters a bad name, often protests are lawful, even when at the home of prominent officials, unlike this one, which broke every rule in the book. It is excepted that some judges behave badly and that can amount to parents protesting due to the view that closed courts are corrupt courts, judge Holman J took the unprecedented step of opening his court up to the public, proving that his court is not corrupt and there was nothing to conceal of an unjust nature, proving that whilst he presides over a case, he has nothing hide and requires commending for taking the steps that he has. This brings into question why all family courts cannot be open to the public, which, may then stop any judge behaving badly, or parents crying wolf for their poor behaviour or bad parenting.. The outcome of this case without question shows that justice has been served to all concerned, and gave the birth mother an opportunity to change her ways and place the child’s needs before her own..

    McKenzie friends have been in the spot light recently, this case shows that the suggested removal of their roll in the future may leave vulnerable people to be taken advantage of during court proceedings involving children.. Clearly there is room for family law reform and the future focus should be on this, to achieve the best possible outcomes for all concerned especially children who have the right to retain relationships with their parents and siblings as this case highlights… Lord justice Holman has views to serve the future of family law, compared to many judges who appear to still live in the dark ages, and support what is quite often perceived as parental alienation, which fuels parental conflict, which is not in the best interest of any child.. So why do the judiciary condone it compared to standing by the presumption of equal parenting following the family separation..

    • ashamedtobebritish

      You are wrong, this mother was left with no choice other than to force a recusal, like any loving mother she did what she had to do to ensure her child’s welfare was thoroughly investigated, clearly HHJ Holman agrees.
      She was not going to get any form of contact via the court of the previous judge.

  5. A very interesting judgement, as for the view “a slight over reaction”, it is clear, this was a vindictive act, camouflaged as a protest to intimidate the judge, whilst giving genuine protesters a bad name, often protests are lawful, even when at the home of prominent officials, unlike this one, which broke every rule in the book. It is excepted that some judges behave badly and that can amount to parents protesting due to the view that closed courts are corrupt courts, judge Holman J took the unprecedented step of opening his court up to the public, proving that his court is not corrupt and there was nothing to conceal of an unjust nature, proving that whilst he presides over a case, he has nothing hide and requires commending for taking the steps that he has. This brings into question why all family courts cannot be open to the public, which, may then stop any judge behaving badly, or parents crying wolf for their poor behaviour or bad parenting.. The outcome of this case without question shows that justice has been served to all concerned, and gave the birth mother an opportunity to change her ways and place the child’s needs before her own..

    McKenzie friends have been in the spot light recently, this case shows that the suggested removal of their roll in the future may leave vulnerable people to be taken advantage of during court proceedings involving children.. Clearly there is room for family law reform and the future focus should be on this, to achieve the best possible outcomes for all concerned especially children who have the right to retain relationships with their parents and siblings as this case highlights… Lord justice Holman has views to serve the future of family law, compared to many judges who appear to still live in the dark ages, and support what is quite often perceived as parental alienation, which fuels parental conflict, which is not in the best interest of any child.. So why do the judiciary condone it compared to standing by the presumption of equal parenting following the family separation..

    • I agree 100%, Amy, I am happy to laud good judges but I have seen so many that fall well below that, some to the extend of overlooking crimes and being administratively complicit in them!

      It is fine to look at MKFs that step over the line and even some parents, but take the ginormous beam out of your own eye.

      I am happy to name names, like London Borough of Haringey and DJ Brasse both of whom were in contempt of an order of Justice Hogg and more. Police tried investigating crime and the Judge warned them off and frustrated a criminal investigation.

      YES THE COURTS MUST BE OPEN!

  6. Amy Walker, or Elmos Sprog whatever your name is!
    “A very interesting judgement, as for the view “a slight over reaction”, it is clear, this was a vindictive act, camouflaged as a protest to intimidate the judge, whilst giving genuine protesters a bad name, often protests are lawful, even when at the home of prominent officials, unlike this one, which broke every rule in the book”

    I do not believe you were there at this Protest if it can even be called that. I was with the Mother on this day, there was a total overaction from the Judge, she was never in fear of her life, therefore no line crossing was done! The mother had warned the Judge 4 weeks in advance that she was going to carry out her protest, and was stated in a court order. I have seen the papers for this case, it was noted throughout the proceedings that her Honour Judge Singleton acted illegally for various reasons which unfortunately was not noted in the Judgement. The Judge incidentally is married to a bent solicitor therefore it is of no surprise that this Judge is as corrupt as corrupt can be, same as the previous Guardian who was also notified of a protest weeks prior.

    Therefore it might be wise to know the facts before passing any comment!
    I am pleased that the mother took these actions, she is now in her daughters life again which of course is the right of the child. However, this case should have never made court in the first place, this was once again down to the actions of a corrupt Judge. The father was not named on the birth certificate nor did he have PR, so how did it get to court ?! It was purely on the basis of malicious spiteful allegations, and an application that deceived and mislead the court, which Singleton was complicit with.

    In all a great outcome, after failing through the proper channels of asking the conflicted Judge to recuse herself on 4 occasions, surprisingly she refused! The mother had no choice in the actions she took. Well done to her.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      Well said, I’ve also seen the case papers and you are right.

      It beggars belief how the non PR father managed to tear up the birth certificate and give the child another name!!

      • “It beggars belief how the non PR father managed to tear up the birth certificate and give the child another name!!”

        Is it not called legal help??

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I’d call it illegal help myself, I’ve been down the route three times now (excluding this case) where a social worker has taken it upon themselves to register a child’s birth themselves … they can’t do that, there are strict legal statutes as to who can do this if the mother is dead or unknown and the father is not married to her, none of which allow the state to call a child what they please nor register them

      • “I’d call it illegal help myself, ”

        i was of course being sarcastic, legal help includes the massive set of “you cant do that” & “that is is crime”, which gets ignored by all including judges, I had a s 11 (14) I think it is, I choose not to look it up, private family law stitch up and supposed to be to stop people making an application without court ok, for those who have made multiple applications, I had never made a single one!

        I raised before this, “I don’t think criminal acts by the applicant assisted by solicitor should be used as a means to gain an advantage in proceedings and achieve a desired outcome.” Judges reply? “I see what you mean, then promptly ignored it. So did the LawSoc and LSO.

        I saw a report years ago saying Family Law did not need public accountability because OFSTED did it! I laughed my head off

        I have seen so much including SW’s kidnapping kids. Courts turn a bind eye of course when you raise this as do police.

        Perjury and Crime are just common legal devices to get what is wanted in family law assisted by “legal help.” Though maybe it should be called fraud?

      • ashamedtobebritish

        There’s certainly a lot of deception out there of course.
        I think you refer to a 91.14, bad practice to slam it on anyone who’s not made an application but it happens to prevent future risk of it happening… lol, sorry, but I’m sure you see the irony

      • “I think you refer to a 91.14”

        Yes that’s the one.

        “happens to prevent future risk of it happening… lol, sorry, but I’m sure you see the irony”

        I saw the irony and more, I think by this stage they were fixing things so much and knew i knew because i said so, could not have me making that in an actual application could they now?

        I dont often talk about my own case. but I remember 5 hours outside court of CAFCASS and their lawyer, sorry my child’s lawyer, trying to persuade me to accept one particular fixer, sorry I mean independant expert, I said no incalculable times, this was ‘negotiating an issue’ of course, LOL. They were exhausted and when we went into court the lawyer said, Mr… refuses to accept the expert as he thinks the whole process is corrupt, thinking to embarrass me, I just pipped up, that’s correct. I wanted to make my point.

        The judge said if you accept the process I will make sure you never have to come again, I said OK but put my protest on the record. The expert concluded that I “did not quite have a personality disorder.” those are exact words, I still find that hilarious and said so then, I said this is like saying I am not quite dead yet, (monty python reference) at an inquest! And what he means as I interpret this is that i am rational and sane dont you think? I would like to cross examine him, whilst laughing!

        The judge said if you accept the process I will make sure you never have to come again, ah she meant 91.14!

        They tried to lock me up at one point for contempt on the same day as a fixing hearing because I refused to attend that and give it legitimacy, you have to come to the contempt hearing and will be there so can attend, I declined said I was not available for either especially as there was as i pointed out there was no summons, the 91.14 resulted boo hoo they did not want me any more.

        Final hearing I did not go, they all turned up, a no order was wanted, they could then do that as I said I rely on ALL i had put in writing let the record speak

        I used to go to the court and say your signage is misleading, “courts of justice”, “hearings” etc the court staff agreed with me. I used to quote trades descriptions act, so yes I get the irony,

        I have used since the dead parrot sketch approach in courts, interesting results!

        Family Courts? A GREAT BRITISH FARCE! or is it a black comedy?

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Joke!

        I know your trials and tribulations Paul,

        Love

        Sandy 😉 X

      • Now you have me curious, which sandy that I know? Lol

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