Monday, October 28, 2013
Jail social workers who take children without telling parents why, says Britain's top family judge
Sir James Munby said family courts must be exposed to the 'glare of publicity'
The country’s most senior family judge yesterday launched a furious attack on social workers who failed to tell parents why their children were being adopted – and suggested that in future the same offence could carry a jail term.
Local authority workers in Bristol ignored a court order requiring them to explain why the couple’s two children were being taken for adoption.
They only released the information to the parents 45 minutes before the decision was due to be finalised, giving the family no real hope of mounting a challenge in court.
Sir James Munby, who is President of the Family Division, said their behaviour was ‘deplorable’ and ‘symptomatic of a deeply rooted culture in family courts’.
In his judgment, he accused the social workers of having a ‘slapdash’ and ‘lackadaisical’ attitude to court orders.
He said the couple, who were facing the ‘permanent loss of two children’ had been denied ‘vitally important’ information.
He also warned that in future, there would be ‘consequences’ for social workers, suggesting that they could be jailed for contempt if they fail to comply with court orders – an offence that carries a sentence of up to two years.
Until now, local authority workers have largely been protected by family courts, which also routinely tolerate delays and inefficiencies in their work.
By contrast, members of the public who have failed to comply with court orders have been dealt with severely.
The most notorious case of this was the prison sentence for contempt handed down to Wanda Maddocks, who wanted to get her father out of a care home where she thought he was being ill-treated.
Miss Maddocks was jailed without representation and in secret until her case was revealed by the Daily Mail.
But Sir James’s warning suggests council staff will now face the same punishment as ordinary members of the public if they fail – either through incompetence or unwillingness – to hand over the required information on time.
He told the court: ‘That the parents should have been put in this position is quite deplorable. ‘It is, unhappily, symptomatic of a deeply rooted culture in the family courts which, however long established, will no longer be tolerated.
'The court is entitled to expect – and from now on family courts will demand – strict compliance with all such orders. ‘Non-compliance with orders should be expected to have and will usually have a consequence.’
He added: ‘There is simply no excuse for this. Orders must be obeyed and complied with to the letter and on time. Non-compliance with an order, any order, by anyone is bad enough. ‘It is a particularly serious matter if the defaulter is a public body such as a local authority.
‘It is also a particularly serious matter if the order goes to something as vitally important as the right of a parent who is facing the permanent loss of their child to know what case is being mounted against them by a public authority.’
Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who has campaigned for openness in the family courts, said: ‘At least anybody who is sent down for contempt by Sir James will not be locked up in secret.
‘He has put the boot on to the other foot. The next time courts are let down by the incompetence or bloody-mindedness of social workers, it will be a director of children’s services facing jail rather than a parent.’
Senior citizen forced to pay £3,500 in compensation to carer for constructive dismissal because her hours were cut when his wife died
A grieving pensioner was ordered to pay a carer £3,500 for ‘unfair dismissal’ because he cut her hours when his wife died.
George Lomas, 77, was told he breached Jayne Wakefield’s contract by not giving notice that her hours would decrease after his wife Rose’s death. Mrs Wakefield had cared for Parkinson’s sufferer Mrs Lomas for five years, with her wages paid by the council.
When his wife died, Mr Lomas offered to pay the carer himself – for fewer hours than before – to help as he coped with his loss. She sat next to the pensioner at Mrs Lomas’s funeral, holding his hand and wiping his tears.
But the very next day, she resigned by letter, demanding redundancy pay.
Yesterday, the ‘devastated’ grandfather of one said: ‘How was I supposed to give her notice? You don’t have notice when your wife is going to die. ‘My wife would be heartbroken because she trusted Jayne. We never thought she would do that.
‘At Rose’s funeral, she was telling everyone she was going to look after me, then the next day she was asking for redundancy money. ‘It’s unreal – we treated her like a daughter and she has betrayed us.’
Mrs Wakefield, 55, took Mr Lomas to an employment tribunal.
A judge rejected her claim, but on appeal she was awarded £3,568, including redundancy pay and compensation for constructive unfair dismissal and breach of contract.
Last night, her husband Leslie, 59, said: ‘She’s been given the redundancy money which she is entitled to and that’s the end of the story.
‘People die. Husbands die, children die, wives die – it happens, I’m afraid. Mr Lomas was Jayne’s employer, it is as simple as that. I don’t think it’s a large bill – he’s sitting on loads of premium bonds anyway.’
Even though Mrs Lomas’s care was funded by Cheshire East Council, Mr Lomas will have to pay the whole compensation sum from his own pocket. That is because he is legally classed as Mrs Wakefield’s employer after paying her privately for just a few days after his wife’s death.
The retired accountant said he does not know how he will cope and accused the council of ‘washing their hands of the issue’.
He said: ‘I’m on a company and state pension, but I just haven’t got the money to pay for this.’
Mr Lomas said he offered to pay the carer for 16 hours a week, when she had previously put in 30 hours a week caring for Mrs Lomas. But Mrs Wakefield told the tribunal in Birmingham that she quit because there was no written offer.
Mr Lomas added that the incident had taken its toll on him and he had since suffered a minor stroke. He said: ‘It’s ruined my health. My doctor told me it has been brought on by the stress of this case. ‘To contact me the day after I lost my wife is disgusting.
‘And when she pushed a letter through the door saying she was suing me – my world fell apart.
‘I will never forgive her,’ he said, speaking from his home in Scholar Green, Cheshire.
Mr Lomas started caring for his wife of 51 years, a retired quality controller, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s almost 25 years ago. As her condition grew worse, Mrs Wakefield, a neighbour of the couple at the time, came in as a carer.
At first, the council paid Mrs Wakefield directly, but later Mr Lomas received a grant to cover the cost.
His son Adrian, managing director of a digital agency, said: ‘All this has really upset dad. ‘One day she was sitting in the front row of the church holding dad’s hand at mum’s funeral, the next there’s a letter pushed through his door.’
The 44-year-old said pensioners who pay for care should be careful. ‘Once the council stopped paying for care direct, people like Dad were made to employ people themselves and then pay them out of the money the council gave them,’ he said. ‘That means they have a responsibility for PAYE, holiday pay and even redundancy payments. ‘But no one made this clear to my father. He had never employed anybody in his life.
‘This has been a real kick in the teeth for all of us, especially dad. Legally I understand why the appeal was upheld, but morally there’s something very wrong about this.’
A council spokesman said: ‘Mr Lomas has not been in receipt of adult care services from Cheshire East Council. ‘His care arrangements, therefore, were a private matter and the council is not liable for claims made via an employment tribunal.’
Mrs Wakefield was not available for comment.
Prayers now axed in most British town halls: Just 22 per cent of councils still have Bible reading at start of meetings
Christian prayers are dying out at town halls, despite Government attempts to save them.
A Mail on Sunday investigation has found that just 59 of 271 councils, or 22 per cent, still have a Bible reading or prayer at the start of meetings.
Several have abandoned the practice since atheists won a landmark legal case last year. Many authorities now have only informal prayers or options that do not mention God, such as ‘silent reflection’ or even poetry.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: ‘It clear that some politically correct town hall officials are still trying to marginalise faith and impose an illiberal and intolerant secularism. We have given clear guidance that councils can pray and councillors who want to do so should ignore any flawed advice that says otherwise.’
Last year, the High Court ruled that town halls had no legal power to hold formal prayers, although they would be permitted if they were optional.
Mr Pickles immediately said formal prayers could continue under the Localism Act – although the National Secular Society argues that the court judgment has legal precedence.
Under our Freedom of Information Act requests, 19 of the 271 councils that responded said they had stopped holding formal prayers as a direct result of the case.
Illinois Bishop Stops Gay Activists at Cathedral: ‘Praying for Same-Sex Marriage’ is ‘Blasphemous’
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, head of the Catholic diocese of Springfiled, Ill., stopped pro-gay activists from praying for homosexual “marriage” inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Tuesday, and said in a video statement that “praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.”
“The Rainbow Sash Movement has encouraged Roman Catholics to come to Springfield to ‘have a loud Catholic presence for marriage equality,” said Bp. Paprocki in the video. “They have announced plans to gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 4:30 p.m., just before the 5:15 p.m. Mass [on Oct. 22], to stand in the Cathedral and indicate that they are there to pray the rosary for ‘marriage equality.’”
“It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy,” said the bishop. “Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Gospel of Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous, and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.”
The bishop continued, “People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave.”
Because of Bishop Paprocki’s actions and the fact that police were at the cathedral to stop the activists, the Rainbow Sash group did not follow through with its plans on Oct. 22.
Earlier that day, the pro-gay Rainbow Sash Movement rallied at the Illinois State Capitol to advocate for Senate Bill 10, legislation that would legalize “same-sex marriage” in Illinois.
In an Oct. 13 statement posted on their web site, the Rainbow Sash Movement explained the plan for the rally and march and said, “If you come from a specific parish you can title yourselves ‘Friends of ( name of the parish or parishes).’ We encourage Roman Catholics to speak out on this issue, your voices will mean so much to our equality effort. …
"The Rainbow Sash Movement is calling for silent prayer to begin 4:30PM just before the 5:15PM Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. A Rosary for Marriage Equality will be said in silence. By standing up in the Cathedral you will indicate you are there to pray the rosary for Marriage Equality. Let us come together as a spiritual family in prayer after the march.”
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage was set by nature and God as being between one man and one woman. “Marriage is a basic human and social institution,” states the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate either from the church or the state, but from God. Therefore, neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.”
The Church teaches that homosexual persons should be treated with the same respect, charity, and dignity as any person but states that homosexual behavior is morally wrong. “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” states the Catholic Catechism. “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
In closing his video statement, Bishop Paprocki said, “Of course, our cathedral and parish churches are always open to everyone who wishes to repent their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness.”
There are about 143,000 Catholics in the diocese of Springfield, which stretches across central Illinois, and 132 parishes. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1928, is the primary church of the diocese
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.