Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Another legal attack on an innocent British family
On the basis of a bruised ear! While grievous harm to other children goes unchecked. It should never have gone to court but is typical of the biased practices of British social workers
A judge broke up a family in just 15 minutes, it was revealed yesterday. Judge James Orrell ordered that three children should be taken from their parents after doctors gave evidence in his court about bruising to the ear of one young child. The doctors said it was their opinion that the bruising could have been caused by pinching.
The ruling made at a family court in Derby was exposed after an Appeal Court judge overturned Judge Orrell's decision and condemned the way a family was nearly destroyed in a quarter of an hour. Appeal Judge Lord Justice Thorpe said he was 'aghast' at the handling of the case.
The incident came to light amid continued controversy over the secrecy in which the family courts deal with cases despite repeated scandals over misjudgements or high-handed behaviour by social workers and wrong evidence by expert witnesses.
Last year Labour Lord Chancellor Jack Straw ordered the family courts to open their proceedings to outside scrutiny. But judges have been deeply reluctant to let anyone but lawyers, social workers and expert witnesses into the courts, and have effectively kept them closed to all outsiders.
Judges and lawyers say the risk of the plight of vulnerable children becoming known to the public by name is too great and that such publicity would be greatly damaging to children.
As a result the public can know nothing of what happens, and must rely on regular assurances from judges and insiders that all is well and standards are maintained in cases that decide the future of parents and children.
Details often only become public if a family case comes to a criminal court - as happened when the circumstances of the killing of Peter Connelly, Baby P, were revealed when his mother, her boyfriend and his brother were tried at the Old Bailey in 2008.
In the Derby case social workers sent the evidence of the doctors to the court before Judge Orrell held his hearing. Their lawyers expected a preliminary hearing, but the judge heard the doctors and then ordered the social workers to remove the children from their home.
Lord Justice Thorpe said today: 'I am completely aghast at this case. There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter. 'Once you have lost a child, it is very difficult to get a child back.'
He added of Judge Orrell: 'I know he is a very experienced judge and I know he has done wonderful work in Derby for many years. 'But there is a point where a judge’s brisk conduct of business in his search for protection of a child is just not acceptable. 'This does not seem to me like acceptable process or natural justice.'
Lord Justice Thorpe sent the case back to the county court in Derby, which handles the most serious local family cases, but he said any further decisions on the children's future should be taken by a different judge. He added: 'Judge Orrell is a pillar of the family justice system, but I do believe it is important that the parents have confidence in the tribunal.'
Lawyers for the parents said the judge listened to evidence from the doctors but failed to hear what the parents had to say. He had also failed to listen to the bruised child, who is said to be 'of sufficient age and maturity' to speak for himself.
'British justice has lost the plot': Now businessman forced to pay £5,000 damages to thieving employee he frogmarched to police faces court costs that could ruin him
Ask flooring company boss Simon Cremer if he regrets the day he took the law into his own hands, and it’s clear he is rather torn: he gives a yes-but-no answer. Not for a second, though, does he regret humiliating sub-contractor Mark Gilbert, whom he paraded through the streets of Witham, Essex, in September 2008 with a crude cardboard sign around his neck pronouncing him a thief.
He’d discovered that Mr Gilbert had written a company cheque for £845 to himself, forging his boss’s signature — and maintains that the walk of shame he subjected Mr Gilbert to, as he frogmarched him to the police station, was deserved.
‘I didn’t feel sorry for him then, and I still don’t today,’ says 46-year-old Mr Cremer, who became the talk of Britain after inviting the local papers to record his ‘citizen’s arrest’ for posterity. ‘Yes, it was humiliating for him, but I felt he deserved it.
‘He humiliated me, in my eyes, by betraying my trust and stealing from me. It made my blood boil to think he’d probably get nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the police.’
But would he do it again? Well, that’s a completely different matter. He hesitates to say ‘Yes’, for it’s obvious he very much regrets how much his actions will cost him.
And who could blame him for wondering if he was a little too swift to act. For the high price this small businessman must pay for his stand emerged this week. He could even end up being forced to sell his home.
Mr Gilbert, 41, a self-employed carpet fitter who has moved from Colchester to Bristol following the incident, sued Mr Cremer for £40,000, claiming the embarrassment of being paraded through the streets had left him too traumatised to work for two years.
He claimed he’d feared for his life after he was allegedly set upon, punched, tied up, and forced to read the thief sign aloud three times before being bundled into a back of a van to drive him to the High Street to be publicly shamed. ‘It was almost a relief,’ he said, ‘when I saw the police station in sight rather than a remote field.’
Last week in an out-of-court settlement, Mr Cremer — who vehemently denies Mr Gilbert’s allegations of violence — reluctantly agreed to pay him £5,000 in compensation for the ‘humiliation’ he suffered, rather than risk the crippling legal costs of fighting the case through the civil courts.
It was reported that Mr Cremer would be out of pocket to the tune of £13,000 after taking the legal costs into account. In fact, the bill he faces could be far higher than that. Later in the week, Mr Cremer says, the bill from Mr Gilbert’s lawyers arrived. The sum was, he says, an eye-watering £25,000. So that walk of shame could cost Simon Cremer a staggering £30,000.
‘I don’t want to pay Mark Gilbert a penny, because I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong,’ says Mr Cremer in an exclusive interview. ‘I would have preferred to fight his claim in the civil courts, but I couldn’t afford to.
‘When my solicitor phoned me after we settled, she said: “I hope you’re sitting down.” Then she told me what Mark Gilbert’s lawyers were charging. It sounded like telephone numbers to me — a heart-stopping amount. ‘With the recession, business is very tight, and I can’t lay my hands on that kind of money.
‘So, basically, Mr Gilbert can steal a cheque off me and get a couple of months’ holiday in Australia at my expense, while I may be forced to sell my home to settle his enormous legal costs. How can that be justice?
‘He was never threatened with violence. If he had, don’t you think we would have been arrested for assault? We only tied him up because I was worried about how he might react when confronted, and feared for our safety.’ He adds that they even put carpet down in the back of the van so Mr Gilbert wouldn’t get hurt.
‘I’m not a violent person. I spoke calmly to him at all times, and explained everything that was going to happen. Obviously he didn’t want to be embarrassed. Perhaps that was a stupid thing for me to do, but I stand by it and accept the consequences.
‘This will be the most painful cheque I’ve ever had to write, and the worst part is I’d never have been put in this position if he hadn’t stolen from me in the first place.
‘People have accused me of being judge, jury and executioner, but I had the evidence in my hands — the company cheque with my forged signature. He admitted it.
Australia: Camouflage uniforms (!) for prisoners
IF QUEENSLAND'S highest-security prisoners escape from custody, they could be difficult to recapture for one reason - their uniforms. Queensland Corrective Services has "camouflaged" 5470 of the state's 5631 inmates since issuing new-look green, khaki and denim uniforms last year.
The uniforms were designed by Brisbane TAFE students as part of a competition which provided $1000 prizemoney to three students.
While prisoners around the world are forced to dress distinctly to hinder their escape, Queensland prisoners could blend into their mostly rural surrounds. US prisoners wear orange or yellow jumpsuits and violent offenders wear red and white striped uniforms, while escape-risk inmates in the UK wear bright-coloured boiler suits.
But Queensland prisoners had the choice of a two-tone green T-shirt, singlet or jumper with shorts, tracksuit or cargo pants, which were made by prisoners at Lotus Glen, Townsville, Woodford and Brisbane Women's Correctional Centres. This colour scheme more closely resembles what armed forces wear to help them avoid detection in battle.
Opposition corrections spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said the gaffe was symbolic of the problems within corrective services. Mr Bleijie said escaped inmates would blend into the bushland surrounding most jails and would also be indistinguishable from non-prisoners in crowded spaces.
"Having just completed a comprehensive induction to Queensland prisons I was shocked to see first-hand the camo-like prison-issue uniforms," he said. "Many an eyebrow was raised when I mentioned the issue with prison staff and it was clear frontline prison officers had no input into the design. "You should be able to distinguish between an average `Joe Blow' walking down the street and a prisoner."
Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts said the uniform would not be changed. "The words `Correctional Centre Issue' are clearly marked on the new uniforms in upper-case, white lettering, which is also slightly reflective," he said. [And those not in the know could well assume that the lettering describes STAFF!]
Mr Roberts said that some prisoners wore bright orange uniforms within workshops at high-security jails. "There has not been an escape from a high-security prison in Queensland since the Nationals were last in power in 1998," he said.
Survey finds many Australians are critical of Muslims and Jews
This report was of course headlined as showing "racism". It does nothing of the sort. As psychologists have known for decades, negative attitudes about various groups do NOT predict any wilingness or intention to treat the groups concerned badly (See e.g. here and here. Andrew Bolt has some sarcastic comments )
Half of Australians harbour anti-Muslim sentiments and a quarter are anti-Semitic, according to the biggest survey ever done on racism in this country. One in three also admit some level of racist feelings against indigenous people, reported the Herald Sun.
The survey of 12,500 people, conducted by leading universities, found Victoria to be one of the most tolerant states. But comparisons between 15 regions statewide show stark differences.
People in Melbourne's outer north, including the shires of Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Hume, recorded Victoria's highest rates of negative sentiments against Jews (31.4 per cent), Asians (26.8 per cent) and Britons (12.8 per cent).
Anti-Muslim feelings were highest in outer western council areas of Melton, Wyndham and Brimbank, but these areas also reported the state's lowest rates of racist attitudes to Asians and Italians.
The 12-year study found 84 per cent of people have seen evidence of racial prejudice. And more than 40 per cent believed "Australia is weakened by people of different ethnic origins sticking to their old ways".
Study co-author Dr Yin Paradies, from the University of Melbourne, said racism against minorities was most common in areas that were more highly populated by those minorities. "There is a general finding across the world that ethnic density tends to be related to levels of racism, but not always," he said. "The inner (Melbourne) suburbs tended to have very tolerant attitudes, but there is quite a bit of ethnic diversity there."
The council areas of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Yarra boasted Victoria's highest levels of "cross-cultural relations" and fewest calls for "pro-assimilation". However, inner Melbourne residents surveyed for the Challenging Racism Project also recorded the highest rates of anti-Christian (21.3 per cent) and anti-Italian (12.6 per cent) sentiments.
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke praised Victorians generally, but admitted concern at some of the findings. "Multiculturalism isn't an end point. It's something we have to keep working on," she said.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.