Repeal Section 97 Children Act1989

This is the section that penalises any person revealing anything that happens in the family courts but at the same time permits the local authorities (with the court's permission) to advertise widely in magazines children for adoption with colour photos,and giving first names,birth dates,and character descriptions !

I know of several mothers in Tower Hamlets who were very distressed to see their children advertised for adoption in the Daily Mirror like puppies" seeking a good home" ! Their neighbours recognised many of the children featured in the large advert ,and gossip was rife ! Nevertheless,in each case mothers desperate to keep their children were warned by the judge that if they dared to discuss their case with anybody ( even the neighbours who had seen the adverts)they would go to prison ,and one did !

Can anyone defend such cruelty and injustice? Surely once a child has been widely advertised for adoption by the local authority the parents should be free to tell their side of the story to whoever they wish?

 

Why is this idea important?

This is the section that penalises any person revealing anything that happens in the family courts but at the same time permits the local authorities (with the court's permission) to advertise widely in magazines children for adoption with colour photos,and giving first names,birth dates,and character descriptions !

I know of several mothers in Tower Hamlets who were very distressed to see their children advertised for adoption in the Daily Mirror like puppies" seeking a good home" ! Their neighbours recognised many of the children featured in the large advert ,and gossip was rife ! Nevertheless,in each case mothers desperate to keep their children were warned by the judge that if they dared to discuss their case with anybody ( even the neighbours who had seen the adverts)they would go to prison ,and one did !

Can anyone defend such cruelty and injustice? Surely once a child has been widely advertised for adoption by the local authority the parents should be free to tell their side of the story to whoever they wish?

 

Reform family courts and the conduct of social workers

Social workers in "child protection" are now reviled throughout the land as "childsnatchers" TAKING CHILDREN FROM PARENTS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ACCUSED OR CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME WHATSOEVER ! Instead of "helpers" they are known as bullies who intimidate single mothers and whose main intent is meeting "adoption targets" not keeping families together . For ths image to change vital reforms are needed…….;
 
1:-Abolish the family court secrecy that gags parents who wish to complain.
2:-Abolish "emotional harm" and "risk" as justifications for putting children into care 
3:-Abolish "forced adoption"if a parent opposes an adoption in court
4:-Abolish decisions by family court judges to take babies and young children into care.(let juries decide) 
5:-Abolish the power of social services to regulate and control contact between parents and children , to censor their conversation or to restrict phone calls.The court must control the frequency of contacts.  
6:-Abolish the restriction preventing a lay advisor from presenting a case for parents refused legal aid
7:-Abolish hearsay evidence in family courts and require witnesses to stick to facts without "speculation."
8:-Abolish the removal of children for non life threatening forms of neglect such as absences from school or insanitary dwellings unless a written warning  has been served and the situation has not been remedied.
 
These reforms would stop most of the present injustices.

Why is this idea important?

Social workers in "child protection" are now reviled throughout the land as "childsnatchers" TAKING CHILDREN FROM PARENTS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ACCUSED OR CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME WHATSOEVER ! Instead of "helpers" they are known as bullies who intimidate single mothers and whose main intent is meeting "adoption targets" not keeping families together . For ths image to change vital reforms are needed…….;
 
1:-Abolish the family court secrecy that gags parents who wish to complain.
2:-Abolish "emotional harm" and "risk" as justifications for putting children into care 
3:-Abolish "forced adoption"if a parent opposes an adoption in court
4:-Abolish decisions by family court judges to take babies and young children into care.(let juries decide) 
5:-Abolish the power of social services to regulate and control contact between parents and children , to censor their conversation or to restrict phone calls.The court must control the frequency of contacts.  
6:-Abolish the restriction preventing a lay advisor from presenting a case for parents refused legal aid
7:-Abolish hearsay evidence in family courts and require witnesses to stick to facts without "speculation."
8:-Abolish the removal of children for non life threatening forms of neglect such as absences from school or insanitary dwellings unless a written warning  has been served and the situation has not been remedied.
 
These reforms would stop most of the present injustices.

Abolish the ban on recording court proceedings

Currently under Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 it is illegal to tape record court proceedings. This topic was addressed by Ms Heather Brooke in a feature article in today's Times newspaper  where she makes out the case very eloquently.

As a barrister and expert witness I too have encountered similar problems in the UK courts and believe that no is the time for this Government to abolish the ban

Alistair Kelman

www.alikelman.com

We are denied even the barest details of what goes on in supposedly public legal proceedings

Last week I had an encounter with open justice. I was attending the information tribunal hearing of a friend who is trying to investigate allegations that the Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust had a history of silencing whistleblowing staff by offering them public money to sign “gagging” contracts.

I’ve been to the tribunal before when I was fighting for the release of MPs’ expenses and that’s when I discovered the only record of proceedings of this so-called “open” people’s court (the tribunals are meant to be a less formal, more accessible form of justice) were my scribbled notes. When it came time to write a script for a dramatised TV version of the hearing, my notes and those of other reporters were all we had to go on. I’d asked at the time if I could tape-record the hearing and was told “no”.

This time I decided to press harder. The rhetoric of the English legal system is that justice must be seen to be done. So why are the public forbidden — under threat of jail — from recording a verbatim account of proceedings? Not only that, rules are so opaque and obscure that court reporters struggle to report cases with any degree of accuracy or depth. And that’s when there is a reporter in court at all: there used to be 25 reporters covering national courts for the Press Association; by 2009 there were four.

Anisa Dhanji, the judge, said she was concerned with the hearing being recorded. “Usually such requests are made in advance so the tribunal can maintain the necessary degree of control over the transcript.”

“Control” is exactly what a court shouldn’t be exerting. Once it is decided that it is open, there should be no restriction on how that open hearing is processed. She went on to say that she’d allow me to record now but I’d have to wait for a future ruling before I could “use” the recording.

The next day in court the judge announced she’d made her ruling. “Please turn your tape recorder off,” she said, looking sternly at me over her glasses. I did so.

“I have made my ruling. As you will no doubt be aware it is a contempt of court under Section 9 to make any kind of recording for any purpose including with a view to publication or transcription. It is for the court alone to decide if a recording takes place and the court must have control of the recording. To do otherwise is fraught with difficulty. Firstly there is a risk of manipulation. Secondly it puts at a disadvantage other parties. Any recording you have made thus far must be deleted and cannot be used in any way including transcription.”

At least that’s the gist of what she said because here’s the final irony: when I asked if I could have a copy of her ruling she said there was no written record of it. To close a court, effectively, from public scrutiny in a ruling of which there is no record strikes me as something straight out of Kafka.

The simple answer is to allow tape recorders for all: no party is disadvantaged and an “official” recording is there for checking. This is how it works in other countries. But that is to ignore the root objection of the courts: that they are losing control of how court proceedings are presented to the public.

The courts’ refusal to allow people to tape-record benefits a few private transcription companies whom the court approves in cosy deals. These people have exclusive rights to tape- record or listen to official recordings and then transcribe them. The cost to the individual of hiring them is about£150-£250 per hour of typing.

Many trials in the upper courts are now officially recorded, yet these records are not accessible to the public. All High Court hearings have been digitally recorded since February 2010. When I spoke to the court’s governance officer he told me there were no plans to make these accessible directly to the public. Why not?

I could go on. You might like to know whether the builder you’re going to give your keys to has any convictions for theft or if the company you’re about to do business with has a record for fraud. Tough. This information is not a click of a button away. Instead you’ll have to know the details of the case before you can call up any records — even though it’s the existence of cases that you’re trying to find in the first place. It’s Catch-22. If you do know some of the details you then have to battle petty officials across a number of court offices all for the simple purpose of accessing information that is supposedly public.

There are three main things that would make the courts useful to the public: (a) knowing by name who is on trial (the court list); (b) why (the particulars of claim); and (c) the result (the verdict, sentence or settlement). Yet trying to get any, let alone all, of these is fraught with difficulty.

We have a justice system paid for by the common people but whose proceedings are available only to the rich, powerful or privileged. Let’s not pretend that this is justice for all.

Heather Brooke is the author of The Silent State (Heinemann)

Why is this idea important?

Currently under Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 it is illegal to tape record court proceedings. This topic was addressed by Ms Heather Brooke in a feature article in today's Times newspaper  where she makes out the case very eloquently.

As a barrister and expert witness I too have encountered similar problems in the UK courts and believe that no is the time for this Government to abolish the ban

Alistair Kelman

www.alikelman.com

We are denied even the barest details of what goes on in supposedly public legal proceedings

Last week I had an encounter with open justice. I was attending the information tribunal hearing of a friend who is trying to investigate allegations that the Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust had a history of silencing whistleblowing staff by offering them public money to sign “gagging” contracts.

I’ve been to the tribunal before when I was fighting for the release of MPs’ expenses and that’s when I discovered the only record of proceedings of this so-called “open” people’s court (the tribunals are meant to be a less formal, more accessible form of justice) were my scribbled notes. When it came time to write a script for a dramatised TV version of the hearing, my notes and those of other reporters were all we had to go on. I’d asked at the time if I could tape-record the hearing and was told “no”.

This time I decided to press harder. The rhetoric of the English legal system is that justice must be seen to be done. So why are the public forbidden — under threat of jail — from recording a verbatim account of proceedings? Not only that, rules are so opaque and obscure that court reporters struggle to report cases with any degree of accuracy or depth. And that’s when there is a reporter in court at all: there used to be 25 reporters covering national courts for the Press Association; by 2009 there were four.

Anisa Dhanji, the judge, said she was concerned with the hearing being recorded. “Usually such requests are made in advance so the tribunal can maintain the necessary degree of control over the transcript.”

“Control” is exactly what a court shouldn’t be exerting. Once it is decided that it is open, there should be no restriction on how that open hearing is processed. She went on to say that she’d allow me to record now but I’d have to wait for a future ruling before I could “use” the recording.

The next day in court the judge announced she’d made her ruling. “Please turn your tape recorder off,” she said, looking sternly at me over her glasses. I did so.

“I have made my ruling. As you will no doubt be aware it is a contempt of court under Section 9 to make any kind of recording for any purpose including with a view to publication or transcription. It is for the court alone to decide if a recording takes place and the court must have control of the recording. To do otherwise is fraught with difficulty. Firstly there is a risk of manipulation. Secondly it puts at a disadvantage other parties. Any recording you have made thus far must be deleted and cannot be used in any way including transcription.”

At least that’s the gist of what she said because here’s the final irony: when I asked if I could have a copy of her ruling she said there was no written record of it. To close a court, effectively, from public scrutiny in a ruling of which there is no record strikes me as something straight out of Kafka.

The simple answer is to allow tape recorders for all: no party is disadvantaged and an “official” recording is there for checking. This is how it works in other countries. But that is to ignore the root objection of the courts: that they are losing control of how court proceedings are presented to the public.

The courts’ refusal to allow people to tape-record benefits a few private transcription companies whom the court approves in cosy deals. These people have exclusive rights to tape- record or listen to official recordings and then transcribe them. The cost to the individual of hiring them is about£150-£250 per hour of typing.

Many trials in the upper courts are now officially recorded, yet these records are not accessible to the public. All High Court hearings have been digitally recorded since February 2010. When I spoke to the court’s governance officer he told me there were no plans to make these accessible directly to the public. Why not?

I could go on. You might like to know whether the builder you’re going to give your keys to has any convictions for theft or if the company you’re about to do business with has a record for fraud. Tough. This information is not a click of a button away. Instead you’ll have to know the details of the case before you can call up any records — even though it’s the existence of cases that you’re trying to find in the first place. It’s Catch-22. If you do know some of the details you then have to battle petty officials across a number of court offices all for the simple purpose of accessing information that is supposedly public.

There are three main things that would make the courts useful to the public: (a) knowing by name who is on trial (the court list); (b) why (the particulars of claim); and (c) the result (the verdict, sentence or settlement). Yet trying to get any, let alone all, of these is fraught with difficulty.

We have a justice system paid for by the common people but whose proceedings are available only to the rich, powerful or privileged. Let’s not pretend that this is justice for all.

Heather Brooke is the author of The Silent State (Heinemann)

Repeal the DATA PROTECTION ACT now being applied to Public Archives

ALL documents deposited in UK Public Archives should be available for viewing by all patrons with no restrictions on the contents.

The Data Protection Act generates over 800,000 COMPLAINTS every year for the Office of The Information Commissioner. Common sense says quite obviously that this is a flawed Law and should be repealed.

Uninformed Librarians and Archivists are using the DPA to censor and to close, completely OPEN, historic public documents for 100 YEARS which, if they were returned, would be open again! This is a travesty!

This diktat is perpetrated on the ENTIRE UK population without even lifting the telephone to obtain a definitive decision first from the ICO.

Why is this idea important?

ALL documents deposited in UK Public Archives should be available for viewing by all patrons with no restrictions on the contents.

The Data Protection Act generates over 800,000 COMPLAINTS every year for the Office of The Information Commissioner. Common sense says quite obviously that this is a flawed Law and should be repealed.

Uninformed Librarians and Archivists are using the DPA to censor and to close, completely OPEN, historic public documents for 100 YEARS which, if they were returned, would be open again! This is a travesty!

This diktat is perpetrated on the ENTIRE UK population without even lifting the telephone to obtain a definitive decision first from the ICO.

Conflict of interest laws weakened by failure to disclose membership of Freemasonary

It should be a legal requirement that anyone holding public office to declare that they are freemasons. This would lend greater transparency to existing legislation

Why is this idea important?

It should be a legal requirement that anyone holding public office to declare that they are freemasons. This would lend greater transparency to existing legislation

Abolish the Official Secrets Act

The OSA was originally brought in during a state of war, and its presence on the statute book is at the heart of the culture of unaccountability, secrecy and control freakery which defines most of what is wrong with UK politics today.

 

How can the citizen trust a system which is conceited enough to believe it "owns" information, when all of government is the property of the taxpayer ? A duty of openness should replace a culture of deceit and cover up.

Why is this idea important?

The OSA was originally brought in during a state of war, and its presence on the statute book is at the heart of the culture of unaccountability, secrecy and control freakery which defines most of what is wrong with UK politics today.

 

How can the citizen trust a system which is conceited enough to believe it "owns" information, when all of government is the property of the taxpayer ? A duty of openness should replace a culture of deceit and cover up.

Freedom of Information Act

There are currently about 20 classes of exclusion in the Freedom of Information Act.  These range from national security, to commercial confidentiality, to excessive expense.  These classes of exclusion are far too widely drawn, and the exclusions should be reduced substantially.

Why is this idea important?

There are currently about 20 classes of exclusion in the Freedom of Information Act.  These range from national security, to commercial confidentiality, to excessive expense.  These classes of exclusion are far too widely drawn, and the exclusions should be reduced substantially.