My thanks to Elizabeth Hobson for this press release, published recently by the Ministry of Justice. The full content:
Panel members confirmed to steer call for evidence on how the family courts protect children and parents in cases of domestic abuse and other serious offences.
On 21 May 2019 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced a public call for evidence steered by a panel of key representatives from across family justice, to gather evidence on how the family courts protect children and parents in cases of domestic abuse and other serious offences.
The inaugural panel meeting took place on Friday 14 June 2019, marking the start for the three-month call for evidence. The panel members represent key organisations from across family justice including the Judiciary, academia, social care, policy officials and third sector organisations which represent and advocate for victims of domestic abuse, (full details below).
The call for evidence will specifically focus on the application of Practice Direction 12J, Practice Direction 3AA, The Family Procedure Rules Part 3A, and s.91(14) orders, and will build a more detailed understanding of any harm caused during or following proceedings in the family court.
The panel members are:
- Melissa Case & Nicola Hewer, Director of Family and Criminal Justice Policy, MOJ (Chair)
- Professor Liz Trinder, University of Exeter
- Professor Rosemary Hunter FAcSS, University of Kent
- Professor Mandy Burton, University of Leicester
- Mr Justice Stephen Cobb, Judiciary
- District Judge Katherine Suh, Judiciary
- Nicki Norman, Acting Co-Chief Executive, Women’s Aid [J4MB emphasis]
- Dierdre Fottrell QC & Lorraine Cavanagh QC (joint representatives), Association of Lawyers for Children
- Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families)
The panel will also be supported by analysts, researchers and relevant policy officials from MOJ.
So 10 of the 11 members of the “expert panel” are women, one of them from Women’s Aid. Welcome to family justice (2019).
I picked one of the women at random to investigate online – an Australian, Rosemary Hunter FacSS, Professor of Law at the University of Kent. Her expression in this photograph, from her web page, is presumably her response to a cheery male photographer saying, “Smile, darlin’!!!”
Professor Rosemary Hunter
Professor Hunter is perhaps better known as her alter ego, the transvestite artist Grayson Perry:
From her Wikipedia page:
Hunter is also a feminist who has written books such as Indirect Discrimination in the Workplace. In this work she argued that many apparently neutral employer policies effectively disadvantage women and people from minority groups. For example, a height requirement for security guards would effectively exclude many women and Asians.
Using the same logic, an eyesight requirement for airline pilots would “effectively exclude” blind people, while a hearing requirement for music critics would “effectively exclude” deaf people. As a 100kg 61-year-old man, I am “effectively excluded” from the Olympics pole vault finals. Something must be done about these terrible injustices.
Ms Hunter’s university web page shows her to be a card-carrying radical feminist, and therefore – by definition – hostile to the nuclear family. The last person who should be on the Family Justice Panel.
And what of Mr Justice Stephen Cobb, the only man on the 10-person panel? This brings me to an excellent article from 2017 by Paul Apreda of FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru, Are the best interests of the child no longer paramount? Extracts:
Stephen Cobb is a very senior Judge in the Family Court. He is a remarkable man. He recently proposed an effective end to the paramountcy principle – the overarching golden rule in family proceedings that the best interests of the child are paramount. But not content with demolishing the corner stone of the system, it looks as though he may believe the family courts can overrule the will of Parliament too…
In paragraph 4 of his review Mr Justice Cobb tells us that he consulted with Women’s Aid…oh and Rights of Women. He also mentions a number of feminist academics, including Professor Rosemary Hunter [J4MB: our emphasis] – who is currently the academic representative on the Family Justice Council – plus a few others, all of whom are likely to have argued from substantially the same position. Did he consider that perhaps Women’s Aid and Rights of Women are not the best qualified to represent the perspective of male victims of abuse? Did he consult with anyone about the extent to which false and spurious allegations of abuse may be a characteristic of private law proceedings? We can but speculate. The issues around false allegations have been illustrated in an earlier post on Marilyn’s blog here.