09 February 2008

Punished for caring about your child

A father is in jail and his wife is in hiding abroad with her children after he helped them flee the country to escape social services, it emerged yesterday. The businessman’s wife was heavily pregnant with their first child – and was terrified the baby would be taken at birth by social workers – when he drove his family to Dover, and then on to Paris. She had a second reason for fleeing – she believed her eight-year-old son from a previous marriage was to be adopted against her wishes.

Her 56-year-old husband was arrested on his return to Britain, and later jailed for 16 months for abducting the eight-year-old, known as Child S. [The case] raises further disturbing questions about the secret family courts which only last week were in the spotlight when social workers illegally snatched a newborn baby from its mother.

Such cases are shrouded in the heaviest secrecy – with families threatened with jail if they discuss their fears that their children are being removed unjustly. But the story of the father and his family in hiding can be revealed for the first time because he appealed in a criminal case – which can be reported – begging for his 16-month jail sentence to be reduced. His plea to the High Court was dismissed and the father, who has never seen his baby daughter, was led away in tears. ...

The three appeal judges were told yesterday how Child S’s parents had separated in 2004 after a volatile and violent marriage. The mother claims she was told the boy would be taken into temporary foster care until she ‘sorted her life out’. But when she asked for his return, social services refused. After months of legal battles, a family court judge sided with the council’s plan to put the boy up for enforced adoption. By this time, the mother was pregnant. A friend said; ‘She was led to believe by social services she would have no chance of keeping the child she was carrying, which is outrageous. She was in despair.’ ...

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Bennett acknowledged the ‘powerful emotions’ involved, but said: ‘Such proceedings taken by a local authority must be respected by parents. Those who act must expect a prison sentence because a real punishment is called for and to deter others who might be subject to the same pressures.’ ...

The father – who has adult children from a previous marriage – is being destroyed by prison, a friend said outside court. (Daily Mail, 7 February 2008.)

The quotation from the judge in the above case reminds me of a remark made last year by Chris Woodhead (former Inspector of Schools): ‘Parents who condone truancy should be punished.’

When the Welfare State (better called the Oppressive State) was introduced in 1945, it was said that education, medicine and helpful benefits of all kind were to be provided free (i.e. out of taxation). At that time I think many people would have been shocked at the idea that someone might be fined and punished with imprisonment for failure to take advantage of the goodies on offer.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, and if the State makes itself responsible as the ultimate provider (out of taxpayers’ money) of every recognised need, then it also owns its beneficiaries body and soul, and, as the provider of liberty, may take it away or decree how it is to be used, as it sees fit.

Only a capitalist society can provide its citizens with a territory within which they are free to make decisions; these territories vary in size but may be enlarged by individual effort. A communist/socialist society provides its citizens with no freedom. The freedom which they seem to enjoy is illusory, since it may be removed at any time if they fail to comply with the draconian edicts of the State. You are punishable if you fail to force your child to attend school, whether or not it is being bullied, physically or psychologically, by other pupils or by the teachers, and whether or not it is learning anything that will ever be of any use to it. It is not up to you to decide whether your child may live with you, even if you are supporting him or her completely, and receiving no ‘benefits’ from the State.

Incidentally, is not a prison sentence of 16 months excessively harsh in comparison with penalties for actions which are clearly harming their victims, such as grievous bodily harm, arson, burglary, etc? This gentleman had done no more than assist his wife in leaving the country, accompanied by her own child as a willing companion.