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Showing posts from December, 2013

Mumsnet and the Naughty Step.

I have been contacted by a number of people to ask why I have been put on the naughty step by Mumsnet. There are a number of online fora in which I debate issues relevant to public policy. One is mumsnet.com another one is netmums.com. On Mumsnet there is poster whose user id is "spero". She happens to be a family court barrister who tweets as SVPhillimore. She and I have had a few disagreements in the past which are not worth going into. However, I posted the link above (the twitter link) on the mumsnet forum and a couple of other similar twitter links which were linking to the debate. Mumsnet then suspended my account saying:
Hi, John. We're getting in touch as we've received a couple of reports about your posts on the 'child taken from the womb' thread, http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/in_the_news/a1938715-Child-taken-from-womb-Truth-into-darkness. It is against our talk guidelines (http://www.mumsnet.com/info/netiquette) to post information which wo…

The foodbanks debate and labour dishonesty.

On Wednesday there was an opposition debate. The motion can be found here and it said:
That this House notes that the number of people using foodbanks provided by the Trussell Trust alone has increased from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 since April this year, of whom one third were children; further notes that over the last three years prices have risen faster than wages; further notes the assessment of the Trussell Trust that the key factors in the rising resort to foodbanks are rising living costs and stagnant wages, as well as problems including delays to social security payments and the impact of the under-occupancy penalty; calls on the Government to publish the results of research into foodbanks commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Ministers promised would be made public in the summer of 2013; and further calls on the Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on foodbanks, including a freeze on energy prices, a water …

A Local Authority v C 2013 (mother not allowed to resist)

A Local Authority v C 2013 is a case where a mother has not been told anything about the case, but essentially the police are authorised to remove the child at birth. The key about this is that there is no-one arguing the mother's side of the argument. The allegations made by the state are essentially something that are allowed to stand without any challenge. If, as is asserted in this case, someone is to be considered incapable of looking after her child then why also do they encourage her to get pregnant and hold out to her the chance of looking after the child. However, the nub of this is I would like to hear the mother's view on these issues as to what is true. suesspiciousminds has a good look at this and concludes: I have some problems with this judgment and decision (not as a matter of law, the Judge followed Re D and balanced things but as a matter of principle and human rights). The remedy here for the removal at birth is that the mother has the opportunity to …

Ian Patterson and Heartlands Hospital (The Kennedy Review)

Professor Kennedy's report into the practice of Ian Patterson at Heartlands Hospital has just been released.  It is a good report and demonstrates how confidentiality can at times be used to protect the interests of the powerful.

The problem is a more general culture of the Health Service to cover things up rather than resolve issues.

I have two cases at Heartlands Hospital where whistle-blowers have found themselves subject to disciplinary action.  I have raised these with the hospital, but am unhappy with the response from the hospital.  The whistleblowing does not relate to the care of patients, but the same principles apply.

From his report:
14.36 It is wrong, as well as pointless, to seek to control the flow of information to outside
bodies so as to contain the impact of any particular event or set of circumstances. It
prevents others from taking appropriate measures. It ensures that partial information
will emerge in an unsystematic manner, thereby damaging patients and the …

Victor Nealon: case raises questions

A constituent approached me in 2011 raising concerns about the failure to consider the new evidence  It seemed that this should be considered and the court of appeal has now considered this.  On behalf of my constituent I spent some time working with his lawyer to get the CCRC to consider this aspect of the case.

I am mainly concerned about two things directly relating to the appeal:
a) How long it took for this evidence to be considered as part of an appeal.  This is an issue as to how the CCRC works.
b) That the system continues to punish people who maintain their innocence.

Both of these issues need to be considered.

This is in fact the third criminal appeal I have assisted with where the defendant was found either to be not guilty or to have been wrongly sentenced.  There are other aspects of the process that cause me concern.  One is that the barrister who handles the case at the court of first instance is the person who also writes the opinion as to the likelihood of success on…

Badger Cull: Clarification Statement - I am opposed to the cull (including the Pilot one)

I have been getting emails from constituents claiming that I am known to support the Pilot Cull.  This confused me because I thought I had voted against.  It is, of course possible, that I had made a mistake so I checked.

It is quite clear from Public Whip here that I did rebel on the issue on an opposition day motion. And I voted in support of the words: "That this House believes the badger cull should not go ahead."

I am trying to find out which organisation is saying otherwise, but it does not help when campaigners get their facts wrong on basic things like this.

I know that opposition day first votes are a bit confusing in that the procedural resolution is in support of the original words remaining part of the motion hence to vote against any amendment you actually vote "aye".

That, however, is the way it is.



Italian Mother: further comments on the forced caesarean

I was intending to write more on this and issues relating to VBAC. Instead I will refer to two posts written on Birthrights and Mental Health and Capacity Law which explain the situation well. I will also refer to the following comments by AIMS.

The decision to have a Vaginal Birth after Caesarean (VBAC) had been a huge issue in our postbag and maternity care for a long time, and is very much associated with women's desire for control, and also their mental health. Originally the obstetricians policy was "once a caesarean, always a caesarean" and it was women themselves - particularly here, but also in the US - who wanted a chance to have a normal birth and many opted out of hospital care in this country to have home births, with private midwives or even no care, because they were pushed into having CS in hospital.  (of course this is not all women's choice - but we support their right to choose whatever it may be)  Finally both the ACOG in the States and t…

Italian Mother: Mostyn Judgment Published (with transcript of hearing)

The judiciary have now published the judgment in respect of the Caesarean. It is here. I remain concerned that it does not appear that she was told that this was being proposed. If it is true that she had previously elected to have a Caesarean then it sounds odd that she was not asked on this occasion, but instead driven through a legal and medical procedure in which she had no input. I remain worried about how mental capacity is removed and it does not appear that the representative of the official solicitor who was "representing her interests" actually spoke to her. One would think that if she had been asked she would have agreed given that she agreed previously. Reading between the lines of the judgment the main issue appears to have been that she did not want to give birth in England. (understandably in retrospect) There are a number of questions about the details of the judgment. (such as what her condition actually was, whether she was being treated for the wro…

Italian Mother: Sarah Matthews' petition highlights problem with Caesarean Decision

Sarah Matthews, a mother living in England, has petitioned parliament to raise concerns about the way in which courts decide that people have no right to make their own decisions. This is how it was decided that the Italian Mother was not allowed to decide not to have a caesarean section. The petition is in Hansard here Sarah Matthews has been gagged by Mr Justice Mostyn to stop her talking to the media about her case. John Hemming said about the petition:"The petition shows how the deck is stacked against people who wish to keep their rights to make decisions. I am only aware of two cases where such decisions have been resisted. One is continuing at the moment and the other is the subject of the petition." "The Italian authorities have argued that the mother in Italy should have been allowed to make her own decision and not have a caesarean. However, it appears that she was not even allowed to know that this was proposed and express a view. The system of removing…

St George's Healthcare NHS Trust v S; R v Collins and others, ex parte S [1998] 3 All ER 673, [1998] Fam Law 526, CA

The above was a case which looked at the issue of forced caesarians. This is an article that looks at the above case. In terms of the Italian case we cannot know on the information currently available the reasoning of the judge. It seems very clear, however, that there was an Article 6 contravention because the mother concerned was not made aware of the suggestion that she might have a caesarean and hence was unable to oppose it.

Italian Mother: Letter from Italian Human Rights Court Group to John Hemming MP

The UFTDU are similar to Liberty.

Italian Mother: Statement by John Hemming (includes comments from mother and italian judgment)

Report of Conversation with mother:
John Hemming  said "I have spoken to the mother concerned who has been very badly treated by the authorities in England.  She has said to me that she would like to thank all the British people who have sent messages of support."

Parliamentary proceedings
"Now that we know that the case is still live and to be heard by Munby P it is clear that the case is sub judice.  That limits the range of parliamentary proceedings that can be used.   I have, therefore, tabled a Motion in parliament relating to the failures of Essex County Council in terms of Communication with Foreign Institutions.  This should appear tomorrow.

Essex County Council's failure to follow international law
Under the Vienna convention article 36 and also under Brussels II Bis revised  (Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003) articles 15, 55 and 56 the Italian authorities should have been contacted about both the mother’s imprisonment and the care of the baby.  Howe…

Italian Mother: Statement by John Hemming

Response to statement from Judiciary:
"I welcome the transfer of the case from Chelmsford County Court to the High Court in front of the president of the family division.  The appointment of the president of the family division was a very positive step and I am certain that any applications to him will be heard justly."

"I remain concerned that many decisions taken by the family courts are taken by the magistrates court (the family proceedings court) and are then appealed to the county court.  This means that domestic proceedings can be exhausted without a case getting out of the area in which it is considered.  This means that there is never any public judgment and the case in the UK has come to an end.  All that people can then do is to take their case to Strasbourg."

Comment about failure of Essex to follow proper proceedings:
"The rules are straightforward when it comes to foreign nationals and care proceedings.  The foreign country concerned should be con…

Italian Mother: Statement by John Hemming

Unsurprisingly there is a lot of media interest in this case.  We do, however, need to remember that at the centre of this case is a mother and a baby (and the wider family including two siblings of the baby).

I will be driven as to what I say to the media about the case by the wishes of the mother concerned.  I have been discussing that with her today.  I have already had a short conversation with her on the telephone and we have agreed to speak further later today.  However, I do not expect to be able to make any statement beyond this statement until after 5pm today or even later.  I am on the train at the moment which makes it really difficult to have long phone calls.

In the mean time my team have been contacting the Italian Embassy to find out what their position is on this issue.   In previous cases the Polish, Czech and Slovak embassies have all been very supportive of their citizens facing unjust proceedings in the family division in England and Wales.  However, I do not know …

Italian Mother Case: Bipolar UK issue statement in support of mother

The following is a statement by Bipolar UK:
Bipolar UK response to media reporting on forced caesarean and continued separation of mother and child

The forced caesarean and continued separation of mother and child is, we believe, unprecedented.

It is sometimes the case that if someone is very ill they are unable to consent to a medical procedure which those caring for them consider is urgently needed.  But officials should make every effort to consult with the family before decisions are taken, a procedure made more difficult in this case because the woman was only on a short stay from Italy.  Moreover, if there were continuing concerns about the care of the child, one would have thought Italian social services would have been involved in determining what was best for the child.

Women with bipolar may become unwell during pregnancy and are at high risk of becoming ill following childbirth.  The majority of women recover fully, they manage the impact of the illness through strategies invol…