Monday, 7 June 2010

The ill-effects of Family Court Transparency

Retired judge Sir Mark Potter, who has recently stepped down from his post as president of the family division and head of family justice for England and Wales, is quoted by the Guardian as saying that he only reluctantly supported allowing the press to attend hearings of the Family Court.

He now very rightly observes that because most cases are heard in local courts, it is inevitable that local people will put two and two together even when cases are reported anonymously. He believes children are likely to become the subjects of gossip and bullying as a result.

It is sad that these forthright remarks come only after the changes brought about by the last Government have come into effect. And it gives me no pleasure that Sir Mark now seems to be endorsing the position I outlined in my letter to the Times (8th October 2008) when I seemed to be very much in a minority on this issue.

I have always believed that Jack Straw's so-called ‘reforms’ amount to a cruel betrayal of abused and neglected children, who now face having the most intimate details of their family lives aired in public.

The Guardian article also reports Sir Mark as saying that the family court system is in crisis with lack of funding and huge increases in the number of care proceedings cases following the Baby Peter tragedy. As a result children are being left in violent homes.

What a dreadful legacy, Mr. Straw.