Archive for the ‘PMA International UK’ Category
By Christopher Booker
It’s a mystery why judges and social workers think they have the legal authority to act in such an inhuman way
Many will have been amazed by the story of Kathleen Danby, the 72-year-old grandmother given a three-month prison sentence after police produced CCTV footage showing her and her 18-year-old granddaughter running to embrace in a pub car park. The granny, who lives in Orkney, had travelled down to Derby to meet her beloved young relation in defiance of a 2007 court order, which has allowed them only to have “supervised contact” by telephone once a month.
The girl, said to have a mental age of nine, is so unhappy in “care” that, according to Mrs Danby, she has run away 175 times. She was forbidden to see her father after he was jailed for roughly restraining her from “running into a busy road when she was having a temper tantrum”. He has twice since been in prison, once for waving at his daughter when he saw her in a passing taxi on her way to school.
Martin Cardinal, the Court of Protection judge who sentenced Mrs Danby, said: “I am sure this grandmother needs restraint.” It was Judge Cardinal who made news last year when it was revealed that he had secretly jailed Wanda Maddocks – for removing her 80-year-old father from a care home where he had been placed by social workers, and where he was being so ill-treated that she feared for his life.
Of all the disturbing features of our “care” system, one of the most chilling is the draconian restrictions it imposes on contact between children and loving parents or grandparents who have not harmed them in any way. If they are allowed to meet at all, it is usually in a grim council “contact centre”, where every word is noted by a “contact supervisor”, watching for any breach of the rules, which can stop the “contact” dead.
I have seen several of the contracts that family members must sign before being allowed these contact sessions. One is 23 clauses long. These severely limit or forbid any show of affection by either side. Conversation must be limited only to “everyday matters”, such as how the children are doing at school.
Virtually nothing the bewildered children want to discuss is allowed. Totally prohibited is any reference to why they are in “care”, what is to happen to them, or how they are being treated (in one case, where a distressed 11-year-old girl told her parents that she was being sexually abused by a member of the foster carer’s family, her parents never saw her again).
No reference can be made to the courts, social workers or any other “professional” involved in the case. Particularly forbidden is any “whispering”. Where foreign children are in care, they and their parents are forbidden to use the language they speak at home. When a Lithuanian grandfather recently flew to London to see his grandson, he was merely allowed one five-minute video exchange on Skype, using the only three words of English he knew: “I love you”.
Where no contact is allowed at all, the punishments for breaches can be astonishingly severe. I know of half a dozen cases where mothers were jailed simply for waving at their children when seeing them by chance in the street.
I recently reported on a mother, still in prison, after her desperately unhappy 13-year-old daughter had run away from a care home where she was being physically ill-treated. The mother had rung the police, but was careful to have no direct contact with her daughter, until the police begged her to go and calm the girl down in her brother’s house, where she was screaming and sobbing. For this, the social workers persuaded a judge to jail her for six months.
The real mystery is why the courts and social workers think they have the legal authority to act in this utterly inhuman way. If any lawyer can tell me precisely which law allows them thus to trample on one of the deepest and most natural of human instincts, I would be very grateful.