Gale Force

I came across a chap called David Gale recently when he posted a comment on my blog, and in one of my more idle moments I clicked through to find out about who he was. David Gale it seems, is a UKIP activist, an unsuccessful candidate for Police Commissioner, and the man behind a campaign called “Kids for Cash Court Scandal” – and it’s this campaign which interested me (I don’t usually spend much time trawling UKIP websites).

I’ll just give you a flavour of the article in which this campaign was launched, as a plank it seems of the unsuccessful bid to become Police Commissioner for Derbyshire (a plank not entirely consistent, I note in passing. with his promises to focus police resources on anti-social behaviour and gang related crime):

Judges and lawyers will go to jail if a new Police Commissioner has his way.

David Gale, UKIP’s candidate to become Derbyshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner, is setting out his stall to tackle what he says is corruption and criminality within the family justice system. Accusing judges and lawyers of routine involvement in perverting the course of justice, Gale says that where parents are encouraged to fabricate allegations and the court turns a blind-eye, there must be a formal criminal investigation.

Alright. Let’s take this piece by piece shall we? Are you sitting comfortably?

This is not the usual stuff about women making up allegations of domestic violence in order to shut out their ex partners from the lives of their sons and daughters. No, this is something beyond that mundane plea (and of course sometimes such pleas are correct, whilst other times they are the desperate denial of a guilty conscience). No. This is a suggestion – nay, a campaign built upon a suggestion that: the judges and the lawyers know this, ignore it, encourage it. In ways that amount to criminal offences by conspiracy. These are not general allegations that we all know something is rotten, the system doesn’t work, doesn’t get to the bottom of it. No. These are allegations that individual judges know about individual fabrications and do nothing (or presumably make findings they do not believe to be true), and that individual lawyers know that individual clients are lieing (know, rather than just suspect), and that individual lawyers directly tell their clients to lie.

Well these are pretty serious allegations, so where is the evidence?

“Gale said, “I’ve received detailed accounts from professionals and parents both in Derby and further afield that large parts of the family justice system are being run like an organised crime racket. There is an epidemic of mothers being advised by their lawyers that if they make false statements against partners attesting to domestic violence they will be fast-tracked to legal aid, will be able to testify unopposed to gain a Non-Molestation Order, and will not be held to account even if their perjury is uncovered. Women are being advised of this legal mechanism as a means of severing the relationship between a father and his children.””

Ah ha. Some parents have told you that something is rotten. That their exes have made up the allegations, the judge won’t listen to them and its all very unfair? Rock solid evidence that. All at the wrong end of such fabricated allegations were they?

But professionals? Who are these professionals? Are they telling you about their own clients and thereby breaching legal professional privilege and exposing themselves to all sorts of nasties? Doubtful. Or are they giving your their cynical view about what the other lawyers say, in privileged conversations they know nothing of? Are these professionals whistleblowing or talking big over a whisky? Are the “professionals” even lawyers?

Of course I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But that is rather the point. It’s a bit thin. And a bit broad. And in a system where there are approximately 30,000 children who are the subject of private law disputes alone (England & Wales, Jul-Sep 2012) there are bound to be a few examples of things gone wrong. But these allegations are that this is systemic and widespread not a few bad apples. Epidemic to be precise.

Let’s look at this epidemic. If we take out the word “false” it reads like this: “there is an epidemic of mothers being advised by their lawyers that if they make false statements against partners attesting to domestic violence they will be fast-tracked to legal aid, will be able to testify unopposed to gain a [non-mol]“. And your point is? It is factually correct to advise that a woman (or man) who makes allegations of domestic abuse will probably be eligible for legal aid, their solicitor will be able to devolve powers to grant legal aid in an emergency and may be able to obtain an ex parte injunction. Because that is how the system must operate in order to protect genuine victims of domestic violence in the short term until there can be a proper hearing where the accused can put his side. In the longer term the allegations will either be upheld – if the evidence of the alleged victim was more compelling than that of the alleged perpetrator – or not: if the evidence did not stack up. Allegations that are totally fabricated have a nasty habit of unravelling when tested. That’s why we have things called trials. And things called lawyers to pick at the loose ends and pull. Well, we did have lawyers picking at the loose ends but that’s another blog post.

Gale also suggests that the makers of false allegations are told they won’t be held to account when found out. Well, if you mean they may have been advised that the enforcement powers of the court are difficult to make effective and they are unlikely to be sent to Holloway for a short spell, quite possibly – although in extremis such consequences have flowed from malicious allegations (See Vicky Haigh case) and if they have had good advice it will have included the risk of a transfer of residence or of a teenaged or adult child rejecting them if they have been prevented from knowing the truth or from having a relationship with their other parent. They will also be routinely advised that if they pursue allegations and fail to prove them they run the risk of losing the protection of their injunction and will have to face the fact that their bid to prevent the kids from seeing their father has failed. They will be advised if their evidence is thin or inconsistent, and if they are likely to fail to prove their allegations. Many a case has been compromised following such perfectly proper advice about risks and possible outcomes and consequences.

Of course all this talk of false allegations is part of a mindset that conceives of the narratives of family life as being either truth or lies. I am aware of cases which are referred to the authorities for a decision on prosecution following findings that a witness has lied – so there are consequences in some cases – but the truth is that many (most) cases are not black and white – the court may be able to make findings on the balance of probabilities but the criminal standard is far higher, and many will be the case where the evidential threshold for a prosecution would simply not be met. And of course it is one thing to say an allegation is not proved, and quite another to say it was fabricated. People’s experience of the same relationship is often profoundly different to that of their ex. Many is the time that a family lawyer or judge watches evidence where the parties give accounts of their relationship which cannot both be correct – and yet they appear to be saying it how they saw it. Memory is a funny thing.

The article goes on:

Judges are routinely turning a blind-eye to uncorroborated, fabricated witness statements made by women seeking to abuse the legal process. The family law industry’s lawyers are milking this for all it’s worth, with judges in some cases allocating completely unnecessary court hearings that ramp up costs, acting like brokers in an insidiously corrupt scam that defrauds the public purse.

I think that this sweeping remark is probably a poor description of the system of the granting of ex parte injunctions – which has its basis in statute rather than judicial whim, and where in order to be article 6 compliant a return date hearing is always listed. I wonder rhetorically what Mr Gale thinks of the “Go orders” recently piloted in several Local Authorities. Are they also unnecessary? And why is this cabal of mainly male judges colluding in active discrimination against their own kind?

Gale continued, “I will make it clear that the current response from police when presented with evidence of perjury ‘that it is a court matter’ will not wash. If evidence of a criminal offence committed within civil proceedings is presented to Derbyshire Constabulary officers, they will investigate it thoroughly. Those guilty of perjury should expect to go to jail, along with lawyers or judges who have participated in perverting the course of justice. It’s been eighteen months since Christopher Booker exposed the reality of the family justice system, citing it as “callous, corrupt and staggeringly expensive”. I see no evidence to suggest that the problems are isolated to just Children’s Services.”

One suspects that any investigation would be rather compromised by the small inconvenience of legal privilege. As might the welfare of any children unfortunate enough to find their parent in clink. And possibly Mr Gale’s aspiration to focus police resource on street crime and anti social behaviour might itself be rather compromised by the amount of energy that would need to be spent on such matters which are routinely complained of but less often provable to the criminal standard (google Vicky Pryce for an example).

Note that the further evidence cited is the opinion of a journalist. And note the presumption of guilt applied to professionals working within the system. Like a breath of fresh air this not-police commissioner, isn’t he?

I’m particularly fond of this passage:

Increasingly, we’re seeing adolescent boys being left fatherless with positive male role-models being replaced in some cases by gang culture. There is a significant on-going cost to the public purse that continues long after unscrupulous legal professionals have dipped their snouts into the legal aid trough.

And thus the evidential link between fat cat lawyers and hoodie culture is made. WE ladies and gentlemen of the legal profession have BROKEN BRITAIN. And in fact, the whole campaign against “the system” is an indirect way of tackling street crime.

The article ends with an olive branch…

It isn’t the politically correct thing to do to identify women as potentially being the instigators of an abuse of domestic violence legislation but telling it like it is is not about being part of a popularity contest. I will have an amnesty for those women who come forward to testify on their lawyers’ illegal advice but I have a duty to the people of Derbyshire to root out this institutionalised corruption once and for all.

Did I mention he didn’t win the police commissioner popularity contest election?

And, does a police commissioner even have power to direct the police to investigate some cases and not others, to grant “amnesties” or to direct the CPS to prosecute some cases and not others? I don’t know, but I’m guessing not. This sounds a tiny bit like a policy whereby some criminal acts would be ignored in order to secure conviction of the lawyers. Such conviction being dependent on the evidence of someone who had perjured themselves. Can’t see any problems with that at all… And it sounds like a policy which would, one imagines, cause a rather severe difficulty for victims of domestic abuse seeking the advice and representation of lawyers. It’s pretty fundamental that a lawyer is able to fearlessly defend his client precisely because he is not responsible for the decisions or instructions of his client. That he must fearlessly defend his client because he is not the arbiter of her case, he is merely the framer of that case.

Anyway. That’s the initial post in Dec 12. It gets better. On the facebook campaign page here, you can see an entry on 7 Jan suggesting the LSC are also colluding in criminal activity.

There is a lot of strong language in all of this. Strong language applied to the whole legal profession and the judiciary at large – not just in Derby. From reading this material one might form the impression that for Mr Gale everything is a potential criminal offence, except when women are making allegations of domestic abuse. He’d have made a smashing police commissioner. Did I mention he didn’t win?

26 thoughts on “Gale Force

  1. The problem you have familoo is that we do know (unless you wholly naive) there is an epidemic of false allegations within the system and although often they are ‘eventually’ brushed aside, the very serious damage is done early and for quite some time if not irrevocably.

    Children are removed from a parent for months because allegations are made which very often are found not to have been proven or in reality were a complete nonsense or irrelevant from day 1. There is then no sanction by the courts against the person who made these allegations that have disrupted children’s and parents lives so dreadfully for long periods generally. The courts aren’t usually interested in making a finding that something has been fabricated by a mother and if they do say this, then no action of real consequence e.g. criminal proceedings are not started (despite what you say)

    Up and down the land at every court fathers are kept from their children or limited to a couple of hours in a contact centre because of allegations against them which are eventually shown not to have happened or have been greatly exaggerated.

    Allegations against a mother do not result in the same process of separation, even when there have been criminal proceedings or they are in the pipeline against a mother.

    Whether you call this corruption, idleness, incompetence, gender bias etc. It amounts to the same thing, one parent is treated wholly differently to another when they enter the family courts generally. Mr Gale is entitled to describe this in the words he chooses and many fathers in particular who have entered the family courts will support his view.

    If there are allegations of a serious nature then they should be dealt with in criminal proceedings and not left to a half-baked, secret fact finding hearings where one party is often not represented and there are many times no access to the full information and sharp practices such as filing bundles on the day are allowed to happen.

    Allegations should be treated similarly whether the alleged perpetrator is the parent with possession of the children or the parent who is trying to have time with children.

    Presently the institutional sexism (simply not recognised by most who work within the system as was the case with Police racism before reforms)within the family court system puts fathers at a severe disadvantage.

    There are many good people working within the family courts, doing their best; but they are within a working environment that has huge flaws and which impedes much of the good work these people are trying to do.

    • Chambers, I don’t say there aren’t instances of false allegations within the system. I do say there is little hard evidence of an “epidemic” of them, nor of the egregious conduct by lawyers and judges that is referred to in the article. If there is encouragement by lawyers of the making of false claims it should be dealt with and dealt with firmly.
      That allegations are not proven is not the same as having proven that the allegations were malicious allegations (although some of them may be).
      Allegations against a mother result in exactly the same result as with a father – where a mother is a non resident parent and not having contact it often won’t be started again whilst allegations are being tested, but where the allegations are against the main carer (male or female) of course the balance is slightly different.
      If we waited for criminal proceedings fathers would wait a lot longer for contact, and in some cases where a decision not to prosecute has been made children may not be protected. There are all sorts of reasons why NFA decisions are taken about prosecution that do not necessarily mean the offence has not occurred.
      The system is imperfect and always will be. If it can be improved it should be, but based on my experience I don’t believe it is as described by Mr Gale, and nor has he produced solid evidence to the contrary.

  2. P.S.
    If my memory serves me right, Vicky Haigh was only dealt with by the judiciary with a jail sentence because she publicised her case and was in contempt of court.

    She was not made subject to criminal proceedings because she made heinous false allegations against the father.

    Which supports the view of Mr Gale and others about the system.

  3. Abuse of power by public servants is not tolerated by good, honest, decent’ right thinking citizens’ in a democratic’ law abiding society.

  4. In my case, ex made a series of allegations (all of which now disproved but it took many months of supervised contact). [edited for legal reasons]

    Court won’t punish her because she does a job which requires a CRB check and a conviction would limit her working opportunities and therefore quality of care she can provide. That’s a hell of a defence to criminal activity isn’t it? “Sure your honour, I broke the law, but I should get away with it because I’d lose my job.”

    By the way, I’m not saying Mr Gale is any less the massive tool that he appears to be, nor am I particularly sorry that he lost (the appropriateness of making the law subject to a popularity contest is the subject of an entirely different post). Just saying that behind some of his bluster there are some points that ought to be addressed in the interests of justice.

  5. familoo, why should allegations against a main carer be treated any differently to allegations against a lesser (timewise) carer?

    Are children who are with an alleged perpetrator who is the main carer at any less risk (likely more risk) than if they were with an alleged perpetrator who has less care?

    It makes a mockery of the safeguarding and welfare arguments to say that one parent is okay to be with their children as an alleged perpetrator because they are the main carer while the other parent is seen as a likely risk and must be kept from the children simply because they have less than 50% of the time with the children and have allegations against them.

    • Yes I understand that point – I don’t think they are treated less seriously. But the test for an interim change of residence is different to the test when looking at resumption of contact that has already stopped – the risk is no less serious (I agree in some cases it may be heightened where living with the person who allegations are made against) but the immediate consequences of a change of residence are more serious – so the balance may lie differently on a case by case basis. Particularly since in cases where it is said there is a risk posed by a resident parent the court has to consider whether there is a second safe parent or alternative placement which can care for the children in the interim – in some cases the alternative is a parent who is an entirely unknown quantity or subject to outstanding allegations / known risk themselves.

  6. Well we will have to agree to disagree on whether they are treated less seriously.

    But let’s face it the real reason why the parent with less than 50% care is kept at arms length if allegations are made against them and the main carer who is subject to allegations is allowed to have the children, is simply it is easier for the courts to do this.

    Kick the can down the road.

  7. I suppose in fairness, there is a subtle but important difference between explaining to someone how funding is awarded or not awarded in a family case and which side of the fence they fall on, and exploring whether there is something they haven’t disclosed yet which would alter that position; and “You don’t qualify for free legal advice. Now, if only there were some allegations of domestic violence, you would get free legal aid” (nod, wink)

    The first is perfectly legitimate and proper, and what actually happens. It must be right that a person is entitled to have advice about the costs of their case and whether they qualify for free legal advice.

    The second is improper, bordering on crooked, and what Mr Gale is suggesting happens on a large scale.

    As you point out of course, his sources for that assertion are pretty flimsy, and a police investigation of it would be pretty difficult.

    Perhaps a better campaign would be to bring about a change such that where a person makes allegations of domestic violence and the eventual court finding is a positive one that they are fabricated (rather than the Court preferring the evidence of the other party or not making the findings due to lack of evidence) then either a chunk of the public funding should be paid back, or the police should be referred on the offence of obtaining by deception.

    (I suspect however that what would happen then is the same dance that coroners are believed to do, knowing that a suicide verdict robs the family of life insurance, in reaching a different form of words which doesn’t have such a devastating impact)

  8. A real life (anecdotal) example… When contacted by CAFCASS, both myself and my ex partner raised the same concerns (depression). CAFCASS made no recommendations for dealing with that concern for the mother (de facto resident parent), while I, the non resident parent, was forced to have only supervised contact until producing 1) a report from a psychiatrist; 2) a report from a GP; 3) full disclosure of lifetime medical records. Total cost over £800.

    ((Sorry I don’t know what you can publish or not, but I’m sure you’ll edit/delete as appropriate))

  9. Being exhibited is a surprising lack of understanding of human nature, coupled with an unnecessary focus upon the particular phraseology of one particular man.

    In the world of business, a primary objective is to maximise profit. Company employees up and down our land, and throughout the world, use their intelligence, marketing and sales skills and abilities of persuasion to book more business.

    Now, certain practices are plainly illegal. There are numerous recent examples of ‘professionals’ who have transgressed.

    However, there are perfectly legal ‘techniques’ which, if used skillfully, can increase sales.

    If one is selling insurance, one might seek to emphasise the hardship one’s client may face without comprehensive insurance cover in place. If one is selling tax services, one might suggest a perfectly legal offshore tax haven. If one is a private Harley Street doctor one may seek to ‘exaggerate’ one’s medical skills, and so on.

    Why on earth does Familoo maintain that most family lawyers are fundamentaly different in their motivations from the rest of the world?

    Why does she believe that, rather than seeking to maximise their profitable business, most family lawyers instead seek solely to serve a child’s best possible interests?

    It’s not hard to imagine how the family lawyer’s sales patter may go…

    “Come in, sit down my dear, now tell me all about it, why are you separating, is it your fault, ah, it’s his fault, what did he do, oh dear, did he shout very loudly, how did that make you feel, how upset were you, how is that affecting your ability to manage, did you know that that may classify as emotional violence, now tell me again, just how loudly did he shout, just how far did he toss that book, are you fully aware of the serious harm parental arguments can have on your children, etc, etc”.

    Secondly, let us turn to the primary carer.
    A woman who is going through a very difficult and emotionally draining separation. Her emotions running very high. Perhaps her ex-partner has had an affair, perhaps they have had damaging arguments in which very horrid things were said. Is such a person always going to behave rationally and in her child’s best interests?

    Can Familoo not understand that such a very upset primary carer may wish to hurt a former partner? Just look at the behaviour of Vicky Price in wanting to destroy her former husband, Chris Huhne!

    At this very emotionally charged time, what does the Law do?

    The Law hands this primary carer a loaded weapon.

    The ability to make false or exaggerated allegations of emotional violence or physical violence, which automatically leads to the instant removal of her ex-partner from her and her children’s lives.

    Furthermore, the Law permits her to ‘fire’ this ‘gun’ with impunity.

    A predictable chain of events which, at face value, can be blamed upon the parents.

    Indeed, it was common for the former President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, to blame parents for ‘using their children as weapons’.

    Lawyers, too, can be found blaming their irrational and vengeful clients.

    However, does the Legal Establishment really have such clean hands in all of this? Does it really have no responsibility for a System which permits, nay, encourages such repeated patterns of irresponsible parental behaviour which harms children so badly?

    Whether these primary carers spurt out their allegations in sheer anger and frustration, or in an effort to place all of the blame for the failure of their marriage on their ex-partner; whether they are themselves already aware of their power to exclude a former partner; whether they are informed of this power by their friends and family; or whether they are gently ‘nudged’ by their friendly family lawyer, is not the point.

    Family Law, itself, requires ‘root and branch’ reform, so that the best interests of children are genuinely served.

    A presumption of shared parenting and the punishment of the making of false allegations will be a start.

    Bruno D’Itri

  10. A mother – usually – who makes allegations which turn out to be false against the father and thereby tries to alienate one from the other puts her own fitness to have anything to do with children or anybody else’s into serious question.

  11. The problem is not the law but how it is applied & ignored. We need as many people as possible to demonstrate outside their your local family courts’ to make those entering aware that good, honest, law abiding citizens will not tolerate public servants who abuse & kill children.

  12. Andrew – That might happen in some cases after many months or even years but by then the damage is done to children.

  13. A lawyers job is effectively to pervert and misrepresent in the interest of their own client or genda.

    The sooner that the epidemic that we all know is dealt with, the better.

    When a police officer goes against the grain, and says that state abuses should be held to account, I would have thought that was something that anyone who cares about children would commend.

    But some can’t thing beyond their hatred and their pocket.

    • I have said such abuses, where they exist, should be held to account – I have also said I don’t see any evidence of them. Only opinion, with which I disagree. I believe that the police are familiar with the concept of evidence.

  14. Well, what can I say, we often don’t see what’s right in front of us. Either because we don’t like the look of it, or because it is inconsistent with preconceptions that have been shaped by unhealthy experiences.

    The evidence for all of this is there in abundance. But as a lawyer, I’m sure you know all about just how easy it is to disagree, diminish, and discount evidence. Evidence is usually only taken seriously when someone is there to profit or benefit otherwise from it.

  15. Robert Whiston

    Don’t rush to be so dismissive of David Gale’s allegations. If they were true, do you really expect there to be the sort of convenient pile of evidence you outline lying there to prove or disprove it ? There are many fields of human endeavour some of them in seeking to right injustices, for example divorce, child custody, adoption, child abuse/neglect or human rights. The people working on these helplines might endorse the gist of what Gale is trying to comminicate. Do we listen to him and them or turn on our deafness again and fall back into our cosy comfort zone ?

  16. Sadly it’s much the same in NZ. and yes there are way too many lawyers who adopt the same techniques as described by Bruno. And yes there are numerous cases that are dragged on and on and on because the mum is legally aided – attempting to literally outlast the dad until he gives up.
    And yes there is no pile of neat evidence that it happens a lot, but most of us dad supporting mac friends and lawyers in an honest moment know that it is a big issue. It’s called administrative abuse. It’s also a form of child abuse.

  17. Geoffrey Chaucer in ‘The Cook’s Tale’ (1390):

    “But yet I pray thee be not wroth for game; [don’t be angry with my jesting]
    A man may say full sooth [the truth] in game and play.”

    Bruno D’Itri

  18. Does this admission by Edward Timpson on the 14th of March 2013 during the debate on the children & families bill prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Conservatives can not be trusted & have failed to act in the best interests of children since they have been in office?

    Children and Families Bill Mr Timpson: Column number: 288 14th March 2013

    The debate is not new to the House, however: I took the time to look back at Hansard, as we often do late at night when waiting to vote, and I discovered a debate on this very issue back in 2006. The Conservative party, then in opposition, was pushing this proposal, but it was rejected by the then Labour Government, and the Labour Opposition continue to reject it now. In fact, it was the subject of a Conservative party manifesto commitment in 2005. The problem has persisted and has continued to be debated throughout that period, and here we are in 2013, going through the same process.

  19. Just went through court and realize men don’t stand a chance when women lie and manipulate …
    No matter what evidance you present , you will never succeed a female liar…

  20. I rarely comment in response to this type of cheap smear but, in this case, it’s notable that, despite the accusations of bluster, the author hasn’t followed her own evidential principles and contacted me for a view of the evidence. To add to the original findings, K4CUK has since evidenced the collusion of the Legal Services Commission in an evidenced conspiracy to defraud the public purse on legal aid certificates. Presumably, the author regards the official verdict on the demise of the LSC to be similarly tainted with political focus?

    In the matter of the Haigh case, I have acted as lay advisor since early 2013. That means that, unlike all of the commentators, I have reviewed the transcripts of the specialist police team interviews conducted with the child. Without voicing any judgement on the contents, I can confirm that, yet again, the victim has not been listened to, despite consistent reports to multiple independent witnesses over a three year period. I can confirm that South Yorkshire Constabulary’s own solicitor has confirmed that key evidence had been omitted from the bundle presented to court during care proceedings by Doncaster Children’s Services department.

    For the sake of accuracy, I can also confirm that the national sex abuse review panel, set up by Kier Starmer, does NOT review evidence but, instead, bounces reviews back to the originating force. The result is a not very convincing PR exercise that lets negligent ‘investigators’ off the hook.

    Kids for Cash UK now has a number of case studies in preparation, one of which has led to my recent call for the Leicestershire child sex abuse inquiry to be reopened. Our volunteer investigators include ex-police officers and others experienced in assisting victims of crime. Readers should anticipate further smear campaigns as the Great and the Good seek to protect themselve from public scrutiny.

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