Damages win for British couple falsely suspected of abusing their children
A couple whose three children spent two years in care because social workers wrongly believed that they were at risk of abuse have been awarded a "six-figure" sum in compensation. Tim and Gina Williams's son and two daughters were taken from them and placed with separate foster families. The couple, from Newport, South Wales, received an undisclosed sum yesterday in an agreed settlement at the High Court in Cardiff and were given a full written apology from Newport City Council.
The court was told that there had never been any evidence that the children, now aged 14, 11 and 9, had been abused. As a result of the social workers' actions, the Williams missed their children's birthdays, Christmases and their first days in new schools. A judge completely exonerated them at the High Court in October 2006 and the children were returned to them.
The couple, who waived their right to anonymity, began a compensation claim against Newport City Council and Royal Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust soon after. Robin Tolson, QC, for the couple, said: "This settlement brings closure, at least of a kind, for Tim and Gina Williams and their children. The effect of what happened will continue to be felt for a long time but at least this now marks the end of four years spent fighting for their children and their rights before the court." Mr Williams, 39, and two of his children sat at the back of the court during the brief hearing.
In August 2004 Mr Williams called the police after finding his youngest daughter naked from the waist down with an 11-year-old friend. The girl was taken to hospital for a precautionary check-up and the doctor who carried out the examination claimed to have found evidence of longstanding abuse but by an adult, not an 11-year-old.
Mr Williams and his wife were told that they were under suspicion and the children were taken into care. A second doctor confirmed the evidence of abuse and the couple were restricted to supervised weekly visits to their children. There were exonerated after a US expert in child abuse examined the evidence and disputed the claims by the British doctors, who subsequently accepted that they had been mistaken. The council conceded that the children should never have been taken from their parents on the basis of the evidence.
Giving his judgment, Judge Crispin Masterman said that the children's names were never put on the child protection register and it was simply decided to remove them from the family home. He said that the criticisms were coupled with an acknowledgment that all professionals involved were acting for the good of the children. "It is undoubtedly true that social services departments have in recent years operated with inadequate resources and under immense stress and run the risk of attracting equal criticism whether they remove a child or whether they do not."
A Newport council representative said: "A settlement has now been reached which will support the children's future. The wellbeing of the children has remained paramount throughout this case. While the local authority has offered sincere apologies to the family, our priority was always the safety of the children. The court concluded that the council acted in good faith given the strength of the medical evidence presented. "The council, together with other members of Newport safeguarding children board, has embraced the recommendations of the multi-agency review." Under the terms of the settlement, the family are banned from talking about it.
British social workers ignore REAL abuse victims
Picking on harmless middle class families is so much easier and much more Marxist
Jake Pierce was beaten almost daily as a child. His parents left him naked outside for hours at a time and attacked him with cutlery, favoured by his mother for scratching his eyes. He was not allowed to mix with other children and was warned that, if he told people of the abuse, he "would be killed". Mr Pierce's testimony in his case against Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council included details of how, when only six months old, he was admitted to hospital for "failure to thrive". Although a doctor advised that he should go into foster care, he was sent home after only a short stint.
Burns to his buttocks and feet were detected when an aunt took him to hospital when he was aged 3, but again the warnings were not heeded. Mr Pierce's evidence, given last year at the High Court, culminated with his decision to run away from home at the age of 14, the night that his father pushed him against the wall and held a knife to his throat. He spent months on the streets before being tracked down and taken into care.
Mr Pierce was awarded 25,000 pounds over the failings of social workers and this month saw off the council's challenge in the Court of Appeal. His victory will have profound implications for dozens of local authorities across the country that now face a welter of compensation claims. Mr Pierce's test case was backed with legal aid from the Legal Services Commission as part of its policy of pursuing cases that will clarify the developing area of law on negligence.
David Keegan, director of high-cost cases at the commission, said that the ruling would have "great implications not only for Mr Pierce but for many others who have suffered as a result of their local authority's negligent failure to exercise their child-protection duties". He said that the commission had funded this, and would fund similar cases, as a development of its policy stemming back to a House of Lords ruling in 2004, which established that local authorities had a common-law duty to children in their care.
A further important development came in January this year, in the so-called Lotto rapist case, when law lords swept away the current bar on historic claims for sexual assault. Until then, child abuse victims could not bring a claim more than six years after reaching 18. This month's decision in Mr Pierce's case establishes the liability of councils if they fail to act and take children away from abusive parents.
Chris Gore, the commission's senior case manager, said that theoretically the potential number of cases was "vast" and every set of care proceedings where there was delay "could give rise to one of these claims". But there would be a filter because the commission had to prioritise: it would back cases that would be "economically viable and legally strong enough". He added: "We are interested in test cases like that of Mr Pierce which sharpen focus on the law."
He said that in a significant proportion of the 200 to 300 cases, a local authority's failings resulted in years of delay rather than the immediate seeking of a court order or other steps. As a result, children will have suffered anything from neglect to verbal or physical abuse.
Many cases may now settle in the wake of the Court of Appeal ruling, with likely compensation in the region of 50,000 to 100,000 pounds for serious abuse where there was a clear breach of duty by the council concerned. But many will be much lower - nearer to 15,000.
A second test case, which has been brought against a local authority over abuse, is being backed by the commission in the Court of Appeal. Judgment is due next month. This involves an adult disabled couple, known only as X and Y, who have won - subject to the appeal - 100,000 in damages. The High Court ruled in May that councils have a duty to protect vulnerable adults, as well as vulnerable children, and found their local authority negligent. The couple, who were living in unsuitable council housing with their two young children, suffered prolonged harassment culminating in a weekend of sexual abuse, assault and imprisonment in their own home.
How feminism has destroyed male/female relationships
And silicone boobs are not going to fix it
Now, men and women have probably been a mystery to one another since the time human beings were in trees; one reason people developed so many rules around courtship was that they needed some way to bridge the Great Sexual Divide. By the early twentieth century, things had evolved so that in the United States, at any rate, a man knew the following: he was supposed to call for a date; he was supposed to pick up his date; he was supposed to take his date out, say, to a dance, a movie, or an ice-cream joint; if the date went well, he was supposed to call for another one; and at some point, if the relationship seemed charged enough-or if the woman got pregnant-he was supposed to ask her to marry him. Sure, these rules could end in a midlife crisis and an unhealthy fondness for gin, but their advantage was that anyone with an emotional IQ over 70 could follow them.
Today, though, there is no standard scenario for meeting and mating, or even relating. For one thing, men face a situation-and I'm not exaggerating here-new to human history. Never before have men wooed women who are, at least theoretically, their equals-socially, professionally, and sexually.
By the time men reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. Small wonder if they initially assume that the women they meet are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.
But then, when an SYM walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas. "I've gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex," writes Megan Carpentier on Jezebel, a popular website for young women. "I've slept next to guys on the first date, had sex on the first date, allowed no more than a cheek kiss, dispensed with the date-concept altogether after kissing the guy on the way to his car, fucked a couple of close friends and, more rarely, slept with a guy I didn't care if I ever saw again." Okay, wonders the ordinary guy with only middling psychic powers, which is it tonight?
In fact, young men face a bewildering multiplicity of female expectations and desire. Some women are comfortable asking, "What's your name again?" when they look across the pillow in the morning. But plenty of others are looking for Mr. Darcy. In her interviews with 100 unmarried, college-educated young men and women, Jillian Straus, author of Unhooked Generation, discovered that a lot of women had "personal scripts"-explicit ideas about how a guy should act, such as walking his date home or helping her on with her coat. Straus describes a 26-year-old journalist named Lisa fixed up for a date with a 29-year-old social worker. When he arrives at her door, she's delighted to see that he's as good-looking as advertised. But when they walk to his car, he makes his first mistake: he fails to open the car door for her. Mistake Number Two comes a moment later: "So, what would you like to do?" he asks. "Her idea of a date is that the man plans the evening and takes the woman out," Straus explains. But how was the hapless social worker supposed to know that? In fact, Doesn't-Open-the-Car-Door Guy might well have been chewed out by a female colleague for reaching for the office door the previous week.
The cultural muddle is at its greatest when the dinner check arrives. The question of who grabs it is a subject of endless discussion on the hundreds of Internet dating sites. The general consensus among women is that a guy should pay on a first date: they see it as a way for him to demonstrate interest. Many men agree, but others find the presumption confusing. Aren't the sexes equal? In fact, at this stage in their lives, women may well be in a better position to pick up the tab: according to a 2005 study by Queens College demographer Andrew Beveridge, college-educated women working full-time are earning more than their male counterparts in a number of cities, including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis.
Sure, girls can-and do-ask guys out for dinner and pick up the check without missing a beat. But that doesn't clarify matters, men complain. Women can take a Chinese-menu approach to gender roles. They can be all "Let me pay for the movie tickets" on Friday night and "A single rose? That's it?" on Valentine's Day. This isn't equality, say the male-contents; it's a ratification of female privilege and, worse, caprice. "Women seemingly have decided that they want it all (and deserve it, too)," Kevin from Ann Arbor writes. "They want to compete equally, and have the privileges of their mother's generation. They want the executive position, AND the ability to stay home with children and come back into the workplace at or beyond the position at which they left. They want the bad boy and the metrosexual."
This attraction to bad boys is by far guys' biggest complaint about contemporary women. Young men grew up hearing from their mothers, their teachers, and Oprah that women wanted sensitive, kind, thoughtful, intelligent men who were in touch with their feminine sides, who shared their feelings, who enjoyed watching Ally McBeal rather than Beavis and Butt-Head. Yeah, right, sneer a lot of veterans of the scene. Women don't want Ashley Wilkes; they're hot for Rhett Butler, for macho men with tight abs and an emotional range to match. One popular dating guru, David DeAngelo, ranks "Being Too Much of a Nice Guy" as Number One on his list of the "Ten Most Dangerous Mistakes Men Make with Women." At a website with the evocative name RelationShit.com ("Brutally honest dating advice for the cynical, bitter, and jaded" and sociological cousin of DatingIsHell.net), the most highly trafficked pages are those dedicated to the question of why women don't like good guys. A website (and book) called Hot Chicks with Douchebags rubs it in by offering pictures of jerks-we know by their ripped jeans, five o'clock shadow, gelled hair, and bling-standing next to adoring, bikini-clad blondes.
According to a "Recovering Nice Guy" writing on Craigslist, the female preference for jerks and "assholes," as they're also widely known, lies behind women's age-old lament, "What happened to all the nice guys?" His answer: "You did. You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy." Women, he says, are actually not attracted to men who hold doors for them, give them hinted-for Christmas gifts, or listen to their sorrows. Such a man, our Recovering Nice Guy continues, probably "came to realize that, if he wanted a woman like you, he'd have to act more like the boyfriend that you had. He probably cleaned up his look, started making some money, and generally acted like more of an asshole than he ever wanted to be."
Adding to the bitterness of many SYMs is the feeling that the entire culture is a you-go-girl cheering section. When our guy was a boy, the media prattled on about "girl power," parents took their daughters to work, and a mysterious plague seemed to have killed off boys, at least white ones, from school textbooks. To this day, male-bashing is the lingua franca of situation comedies and advertising: take the dimwitted television dads from Homer Simpson to Ray Romano to Tim Allen, or the guy who starts a cooking fire to be put out by his multitasking wife, who is already ordering takeout. Further, it's hard to overstate the distrust of young men who witnessed divorce up close and personal as they were growing up. Not only have they become understandably wary of till-death-do-us-part promises; they frequently suspect that women are highway robbers out to relieve men of their earnings, children, and deepest affections.
As the disenchanted SYM sees it, then, resistance to settling down is a rational response to a dating environment designed and ruled by women with only their own interests in mind. "Men see all of this, and wonder if it's really worth risking all in the name of `romance' and `growing up,' " a correspondent who calls himself Wytchfinde explains. "After all, if women can be hedonistic and change the rules in midstream when it suits them, why shouldn't men? Why should men be responsible when women refuse to look into the mirror at their own lack of accountability?"
So, men like Wytchfinde conclude: No more Mister Nice Guy! They will dump all those lessons from their over-feminized childhood and adolescence. They will join what the Boston Globe has called the "Menaissance." And they will buy titles like The Alphabet of Manliness (K is for Knockers, Q is for Quickies), The Retrosexual Manual, Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants, and actor Jim Belushi's recent Real Men Don't Apologize.
By far the most important philosopher of the Menaissance is Charles Darwin. The theory that human sexual preferences evolved from the time that hominids successfully reproduced in the primeval African grasslands can explain the mystery of women's preference for macho-or alpha-males. At the same time, evolutionary theory gives the former wuss permission to pursue massive amounts of sex with an endless assortment of women. Finally, the emphasis that Darwinism places on natural selection encourages him to adapt to the brutal current sexual ecosystem. Culture, in both its feminist and Emily Post forms, hasn't won him any favor with women, so he will embrace Nature in all its rude harshness.
For one illustration of dating a la Darwin, consider what's known as the Seduction Community. The Community is a loose network of dating coaches, gurus, and their followers whose philosophical origins lie variously in Darwin, Norman Vincent Peale, and hyperlogical geekdom. Women want alpha males, the Seduction Community agrees; with some effort at self-improvement, any man can learn the game-Game, as it is reverently known-that will turn him into a Pick Up Artist (PUA). A highly skilled PUA can get any woman, even an HB10 (Hot Babe who is a perfect 10; Game has more acronyms and rankings than the Department of Defense does). It's impossible to know just how many wannabe PUAs there are out there, but judging from the multitude of websites like AlphaSeduction, Fast Seduction 101, Grow Your Game, SeductionTutor, and The Seduction Chronicles, as well as chat rooms, conferences, ads for seduction gurus, boot camps not just in the United States but all over Europe and parts of Asia, and books, including Neil Strauss's 2005 best-selling The Game, their numbers are considerable.
Game is best understood as an SYM attempt to bring order to contemporary dating confusion. "Things don't make sense anymore, that's why we need pickup," one commenter on Fast Seduction 101 explains. It teaches the ordinary nice guy-in Gamespeak, the Average Frustrated Chump (AFC)-how to reinvent himself to survive in a ruthless dating environment. That means desensitizing the AFC to rejection and, alas, building up his jerk quotient. Teachers encourage clients to project confidence and sexual energy, what is called, depending on the guru, "cocky funny" or "amused mastery." In The Aquarian, a New York-based music magazine, Kevin Purcell describes his experience at a Game workshop: "One of our first tasks was to walk around the hotel silent, repeating in our heads `I don't give a fuck what anyone thinks about me.' This mentality, it was assumed, would help lower the wall of anxiety and make us less prone to the pain of rejection. Like soldiers responding to a drill sergeant, when asked `What are you?' we were instructed to loudly proclaim, `A fucking ten!' "
Sealing the deal for Darwinists is their quarry's biological clock. The main reason that young educated adults are increasingly marrying in their late twenties and thirties is that women are pursuing education and careers, but ironically, the delay works to men's advantage. Once they get past their awkward late teens and early twenties, men begin to lose their metaphorical baby fat. They're making more money, the pool of available women has grown, and they have more confidence. "I could get a woman now, but when I'm 30 or 35 I could do better," Bryson, an otherwise nice-guy 24-year-old from D.C., tells me.
Darwinist dating may explain the litany of stories you hear from women about the troglodytes in their midst. "We can be slovenly from the start," one interview subject told Amy Cohen in her dating column for the New York Observer, "because we can get laid anytime we want." Remember those women who want a guy who will open the car door for them? They may be lucky if they find one willing to add "please" to "Pass the ketchup." Women complain that instead of calling to ask them out, or even make plans for a date, men simply text, "Heading downtown. Where r u?" as they walk to the subway. That may be deliberate. "There is no longer any reason to answer the phone when a woman calls you or return her call when she leaves you a message," insists one dating pro at World of Seduction. "What should you do? Text message, of course." Text messages, he argues, deflect unnecessary personal involvement and keep women on edge. Game goes even further, actually encouraging men to "neg" their "target" women-that is, to undermine their confidence subtly by ignoring or mildly insulting them. The hotter the woman, the more essential it is to neg her.....
It would be easy enough to write off the dating Darwinists as simple renegades against female empowerment. Easy, but misleading. Menaissance men think that women's equality has brought real benefits, though they might not agree with women about what those benefits are. "We can have sex with as many women as we want and not have to worry about making any of them pregnant," one of my more upbeat respondents, an SYM named Curtis, writes. "Men are having more freedom and fun than ever before in all of history as a result of this, because if there's one thing every single man can agree upon, it's that having sex with as many women as possible is a great thing." Seduction artists even say they prefer savvy women who understand Game as a male version of cleavage-revealing tops. Attracting the opposite sex is, well, a game-an intricate and thrilling game.
Teenage thief who stole $50,000 of lead from a British cathedral is ordered to repay only $2
A teenage thief who stole 25,000 pounds worth of lead from a cathedral has been ordered to pay back just one pound. Mark Knight, 19, spent hours ripping lead from the roof of St Nicholas Church, part of Rochester Cathedral, built in 604AD. He took it to a scrap metal dealer and, unaware of how much the metal was worth, accepted just 90 for it. Knight, who is unemployed, was jailed for two years earlier this year after admitting burglary, theft, criminal damage and 28 other offences. But on December 19, he appeared before Maidstone Crown Court for a confiscation hearing.
The court heard how Knight sold the lead to Medway Metals in his hometown of Strood, with 'no questions asked'. Trevor Wright, defending, said his client was homeless and had never received any money from the state. Judge James O'Mahony said that the court was obliged to put a figure on the confiscation, before settling on the sum of 1 pound. Mr Wright said that Knight would struggle to even pay back this amount, as he had no money to his name at all. He told the court: 'This man has never had a job - he was thrown out of his home when he was 16 and has never received any benefits. He doesn't even have 1 pound.'
A church worker, who did not want to be named, said: 'The simple fact is that it will cost us a fortune to replace the lead and for this thief to be told to pay back just 1 pound is an insult to everyone.' He added: 'We all know that he will never be able to pay back the full amount, but the message this sends out is not the right one.'
A spokesman for Medway Metals confirmed it had 'paid a sum of money' to Knight. He said: 'All we are legally obliged to ask when someone approaches us with scrap is their name, address and vehicle registration number, if they have one. We don't ask them where they got it.' They should be charged with stealing stolen goods
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.