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Monday, 7 December 2009

07-Dec-2009 - FAMILY COURTS - Bob GELDOF

‘Barbaric’ family courts behind ‘state sponsored kidnap’

Bob Geldof has launched an outspoken attack on the family courts system accusing it of routinely allowing “state sponsored kidnap” of vulnerable children.

By John Bingham
Published: 4:56PM GMT 07 Dec 2009
Bob Geldof Photo: Stephen Lock

The singer and anti-poverty campaigner described the current child custody laws as “barbaric and abusive” and dismissed the system as a “disgraceful mess”.

He claimed that children’s futures are being decided on the basis of “mumbo jumbo” and “social engineering” with devastating long-term consequences for society.

Mr Geldof, who fought for custody of his three daughters from his former wife Paula Yates, also alleged that British courts “consistently” show bias against men by handing custody to mothers.

His comments come in the foreword to a new report which draws together a clutch of recent research on the psychological effects of break-up on children.

The paper, published by The Custody Minefield, an internet legal advice service, and supported by Families Need fathers, the campaign group, calls for a change in the law on relocation cases in which separated parents apply for permission to move elsewhere.

It calls for the current guidelines to be changed to include an explicit ban on decisions favouring mothers on grounds of gender.

The report lists a raft of academic research which it says shows that children with no paternal influence are more likely to have behavioural problems, lower exam results, mental health problems, and even lower IQs.

It follows a recent study which found that up to a third of children whose parents separate lost touch with their father permanently.

“In the near future the family law under which we endure will be seen as barbaric, criminally damaging, abusive, neglectful, harmful to society, the family, the parents and the children in whose name it purports to act,” wrote Mr Geldof.

“It is beyond scrutiny or criticism and like a secret society its members – the judges, lawyers, social and child ‘care’ agencies behave like any closed vested interest and protect each others’ backs.”

He described the system as: "A farrago of cod professionalism and faux concern largely predicated on nonsensical social guff, mumbo-jumbo and psychobabble.

“Dangling at the other end of this are the lives of thousands of British children and their families.”

In a reference to the famed wisdom of the Biblical King Solomon, he added: “Rather than Solomon-like resolving our tragically human disputes with understanding, compassion and logical pragmatism, the courts have consistently acted against society’s interest through the application of prejudice, gender bias and awful impartial cruelty.”

Presented with two women who both claimed to be the mother of a baby, Solomon is said to have suggested cutting the child in half. One of them immediately begged him to give the baby to her rival, demonstrating that she was the true mother.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "We are creating a family court system that is transparent, accountable, and inspires public confidence in its good work, whilst still protecting the privacy of children and families involved.

"That is why we have allowed greater media access to family courts which will lead to greater trust. We have also increased access to out of court family mediation by putting information about divorce, relationship breakdown and the family courts, and a link to the Family Mediation Helpline website, on the DirectGov website.

"It is for the court to consider the evidence put before them in each individual case. However, the child's welfare will always be the court's paramount consideration."

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Thursday, 3 December 2009

03-Dec-09 - Daily Mail - SS FORCE JUNK FOOD ON BABY

03-Dec-09 - Daily Mail - SS FORCE JUNK FOOD ON BABY

Boy, two, is snatched by social workers after mother refused doctor's advice to feed him junk food

By Chris Brooke

Last updated at 10:47 AM on 03rd December 2009

Like many toddlers, Zak Hessey was a fussy eater who refused his mother's healthy home cooking.

Concerned about his falling weight, his parents sought the advice of doctors. That simple act triggered a shocking chain of events that led to the youngster being put into foster care for four months.

Paul and Lisa Hessey believe in the long-term benefits of healthy eating and rejected advice to feed their two-year-old son high-calorie snack food such as chocolate, crisps and cakes.
Taken into care: Zak Hessey was placed in a foster home for four months because his parents refused advice to feed him junk food

To their horror, social workers put Zak into foster care 'to assess his needs' and allegedly threatened the couple with the loss of their parental rights if they fought the decision in court.

'I was absolutely devastated, I broke down in tears,' recalled Mrs Hessey, 48. 'I was scared out of my wits. I phoned Paul to tell him and he just broke down on the phone.'
But they went to court and, after four months, Zak returned home with the blessing of social services, who accepted he had good and caring parents.

Zak is now putting on some weight, but his eating problems were not cured by his time in the care of 'experts' and, much to the annoyance of his parents, he has acquired a taste for junk food.

Mrs Hessey, of Bolsover, near Chesterfield, said: 'I thought I was doing the right thing going to the best people for advice when Zak began to lose weight.

Heartbroken: Lisa Hessey was told she would have her parental rights taken away in court if she opposed a decision to place Zak in care
'Instead they basically accused me of neglecting him and implied it was all my fault. I have four other children and they are perfectly healthy, it was just that Zak was refusing food for some reason. They said I should just feed Zak chocolate, cakes and junk food just to get calories into him. But I objected, saying that was only a short-term answer and not a proper solution.

'The Government and doctors are always drumming into parents the importance of healthy eating - yet they were telling us to feed Zak all the wrong things.

'That is obviously what they were doing when he was in foster care so now it is hard to get him to eat anything else.'

Mrs Hessey and her 48-year-old husband, a lorry driver, took Zak to see a paediatrician at Chesterfield Royal Hospital in July. He was 20 months old and weighed 1st 3lb.

Mrs Hessey, whose four other children are under ten, said she was happy for Zak to be admitted for a two-week hospital assessment and was hit by a thunderbolt when she went to collect him on July 24.

She was taken into a room with a nurse and social worker who apparently told her: 'We would like Zak to go into foster care to assess how he feeds. You have legal rights but be warned if you oppose this we will go straight to court and have all your parental rights taken away.'

Mrs Hessey said: 'They kept saying, "If you love Zak and you want the best for him then you'll agree to this". They said we had been negative about eating. That was because they had been telling us we should feed Zak crisps, chocolate and cakes to get calories into him.

'I was questioning that approach. We eat proper home-made food at our house and just have chocolate and cakes as a treat.'

Fussy eater: Zak Hessey, two, has now acquired a taste for junk food after social workers tried to make him gain weight
She agreed to Zak going into care after hearing to the possible repercussions if she objected. Initially she and her husband couldn't see Zak for six days.

After hiring a solicitor, they were allowed three hours a day with him during the week in the company of a social worker.

The first hearing before the family court in Derby was on September 2 and the case was adjourned for two weeks. Interim care orders were imposed and Zak returned home following a third court hearing on November 18. By this stage social workers had lifted their objections - and he had put on only 1lb.

Mrs Hessey said: 'Social services did a complete about turn. They admitted that in foster care Zak was exactly the same with his food as he was at home.

'They said we were very good parents. I still find it hard to come to terms with how we have been treated.' Derbyshire County Council said: 'We only take a child into our care either with the consent of the parents or following very careful consideration by a court.'
A spokesman for Chesterfield Royal Hospital said: 'While we understand Mr and Mrs Hessey's distress, Zak's welfare was paramount and we believe we acted in his best interest

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