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Sunday, 10 May 2009

Sunday Times - Daniel Foggob- 10-May-2009

Sunday Times - Daniel Foggob- 10-May-2009

From The Sunday Times May 10, 2009

Mother denied all access to her children
Daniel Foggo

A COURT has denied the former wife of a rich City financier all access to their three children after she was found to be turning them against him.

In an extraordinary ruling, the woman, who was also judged to be too indulgent a parent, has been legally barred from seeing her children for three years. She was jailed for approaching one of them in the street and telling him she loved him in breach of a court order. She is facing a possible return to jail this summer for posting a video about her plight on the internet.

The woman judge presiding over the case justified banning contact between the mother and her children because they were being placed in “an intolerable situation of conflict of loyalties resulting in them suffering serious emotional harm”.

During supervised visits with her, the children made serious allegations about their father which were later shown to be unfounded. Social workers believed the mother was either prompting them to make the claims or they were saying them just to please her.

A psychiatrist who assessed the case said the mother “loved her children” but had harmed their development by trying to be always “available” to them.

The judge said she had “serious concern about [the mother] infantilising the children, encouraging them to make complaints about the father and encouraging them to want to take an inappropriate part in these proceedings”.

The mother breached an injunction excluding her from her children’s lives by approaching her son in public. She also sent texts to her former husband, including one saying she was sorry. Another said she would do whatever he wanted to get access. She was sentenced to a month in prison.

The case has prompted an outcry from campaigners who want the family courts to be more publicly accountable. Although recent changes have allowed a small number of cases to be reported, most are still conducted in secret.

A spokeswoman for Mothers 4 Justice, a pressure group, said: “When you consider what this woman was put in prison for, it is absolutely appalling. She was put in a jail with murderers and criminals.”

She said she disagreed with punishing a mother for her children making allegations about their father.

Anthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, a body that looks after children’s welfare during court cases, said: “In a small minority of cases, continuing contact with a parent who is determined to continue a relationship battle after separating can cause their child immense long-term emotional harm.

“Ending contact with a parent can help children grow up and move on from events to which they were often only miserable witnesses.”

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