Question It!

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week of thoughts and views, and this time, our question stems around the latest row involving the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Abuse.

It has emerged that two of the panel members have now been asked to resign, following what has been perceived to be threatening communications from them to specific survivors of child abuse.

The two panel members are Barbara Hearn and Graham Wilmer, a survivor of child abuse himself. It has been alleged that Barbara’s involvement with the National Children’s Bureau, where a leading member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, Peter Righton, worked as a consultant between 1972 and 1974 creates a conflict of interest. Mr Wilmer’s email communications with a survivor are also being examined to see whether or not they are threatening.

Whatever one may think of the conflicts involved or the direct communication between panel members and survivors of abuse, it…

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Child Abuse Inquiry Panel Meeting With Survivors

Researching Reform

Chris Tuck, a survivor and representative from a group called Survivors of Abuse has very diligently made notes of the meeting that took place last week between members of the Inquiry and several survivors.

Amongst those listed as present were John O’Brien, Director of Safeguarding at the Home Office; Liz Sanderson, Theresa May’s media spin doctor; at least three Inquiry’s panel members and 10 Survivors/Survivor Organisations which included SOB, NAPAC, Rape Crisis, Survivors Alliance and representation from Scotland & Wales.

The three key points raised by survivors at the meeting were that:

  • The inquiry must be statutory & independent
  • The need for transparency around the panel
  • The TOR needs to be expanded geographically and start from at least the 1950’s

O’Brien told the attendees that the first thing that needed to sorted out was getting the Chair in place and that he hoped this could move forward with more haste after a meeting taking…

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Munby Calls McKenzie Friends “A Problem”

Researching Reform

President of the Family Division, James Munby delivered a speech at Families Need Fathers’ AGM last month, in which he referred to McKenzie Friends as a ‘problem’. He does back track and go on to praise lay advisors, but his choice of words given the delicate aspects involved is pretty poor.

This is what he says:

“A big problem in the family courts are, of course – I shouldn’t use the word problem … that gives completely the wrong impression. Another big issue is McKenzie Friends.”

But he does use the word problem. And it belies how he views lay advisors, whether informed by personal experience or prejudice. It’s also clear that he hasn’t read the latest reports on legal aid and McKenzie friends, which suggest that lay advisors are not hindering the process in any way.

The questions asked during the AGM are interesting, and the speech itself, though really…

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Contact for Children in Care, Child Poverty, Transparency and More…

Researching Reform

Some of our posters have expressed an interest in various themes or family law topics, so as a stop gap we thought we would source some useful information from the internet which at least offers a starting point for these issues until we get the chance to invite others to write about them, or write ourselves.

We appreciate this isn’t a finely tune list that hones in on exactly what you’ve asked for, but it’s something for you to ruminate over. More anon!

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Question It!

Researching Reform

Welcome to the first day of December, and another question for you to consider.

The Guardian has reported that since Baby Peter’s death, the number of children in care has reached an all time high but that the care they are receiving remains very poor and does not effectively address these children’s complex emotional needs.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson says the recent findings are flawed and do not take into account all the progress that has been made. Timpson is quoted as saying, “It is a fact that since 2010, children in care are doing better at school and absences from school have decreased. Foster children can also now stay at home until the age of 21, and this year a record number of children found places in stable, loving homes through adoption.”

Our question to you then, is this: do you think Mr Timpson is right, or are the…

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