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Tag Archives: court not to assess morals

It’s time… for Pig to say sorry to Hartley

 

In my youth, there was a TV show called Pipkins, in which Hartley, a moth-bitten hare with a personality disorder lived in a house with a Brummie pig, a monkey called Topov, a creepy tortoise who slept in a shop till and a Zsa-Zsa Gabor type ostrich. There would always be a section in the show where the human presenter would tell one of the characters to say sorry to another – with the “It’s time…. for Pig to say sorry to Hartley”

(There would be a montage of clocks and the noise of clocks striking during the “Time” bit)

 

This looks like the stuff of some sort of fevered Shock-Headed Peter nightmare, not a children's entertainment.  (I am not even showing you the evil tortoise)

This looks like the stuff of some sort of fevered Shock-Headed Peter nightmare, not a children’s entertainment. (I am not even showing you the evil tortoise)

 

That pig looks as though he’s going to lunge at me and eat me from the soles of the feet up.

Besides being largely responsible for my life-long aversion to tortoises (seriously, I have to leave the room or look away if I see one on television, they give me the Fear), that expression always stayed with me.

In the case of Re K (children) 2016

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/99.html

The Court of Appeal were considering the father’s appeal against a decision that he have no contact with his children, there having been domestic violence between the father and mother and the children having been exposed to some of this. The Court of Appeal granted the appeal, ruling that the Judge had not gone far enough in the duty to exhaust the reasonable avenues of getting contact re-established.

The interesting feature of the case is that both the Judge and the Guardian had become quite fixed on the idea that the father needed to apologise to the mother for his behaviour.

Vos LJ firmly rejected this and it may have a bearing on other cases.

 

I agree, and would only add a few words on one aspect of this case that I found somewhat disturbing. As Lady Justice King has recorded, the recorder seems to have taken the view that the father’s failure to make a genuine and heartfelt apology to the mother precluded him from seeing his children. I cannot accept such a starting point. It may well be that a repentant father would offer a reduced risk of harm to the children, but it is that risk and the welfare of the children generally that are important in contact cases, not any moral judgment of either parent. As has been often pointed out, parents are of all kinds and demonstrate all levels of moral virtue. It is not the court’s job to judge a wrongdoing parent for the sake of doing so, because it will, in all but the most exceptional circumstances, be in the children’s best interests to see their parents. If the failure to apologise posed a risk to the children, that might have been a different matter, but that does not seem to have been the case here. The recorder was wrong to impose a pre-condition of repentance and apology. Those matters were relevant, but only insofar as they had a bearing on the welfare of the children.

 

 

And if you want some more nightmare fuel, there were Pipkins episodes where Hartley (to my mind a cross between a really annoyed Kenneth Williams and Al Pacino at the end of Scarface) had his own puppet, which was even more malevolent.

 

Will I ever sleep again?

Will I ever sleep again?

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