THE OPPRESSIVE AND TYRANNICAL MATRIARCHY IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LEGAL SYSTEMS IN FAMILY COURTS
MR GELDOF SAID: 'IN THE NEAR FUTURE THE FAMILY LAW UNDER WHICH WE ENDURE WILL BE SEEN AS BARBARIC, CRIMINALLY DAMAGING, ABUSIVE, NEGLECTFUL; HARMFUL TO SOCIETY, THE FAMILY, THE PARENTS AND THE CHILDREN IN WHOSE NAME IT PURPORTS TO ACT' - 'HERE IS ONE MORE REPORT THAT EMPIRICALLY NAILS THE OBVIOUS FACT THAT TO REMOVE A CHILD FROM THEIR FATHER (IN THE HUGELY VAST MAJORITY OF CASES), THEIR GRANDPARENTS AND OTHER FAMILY, THEIR SCHOOL AND FRIENDS, IS WHOLLY DESTRUCTIVE TO A CHILD AND ITS FAMILY'.
Last updated at 4:11 PM on 8th December 2009
Report: Bob Geldof has accused the secretive family courts of 'state-sanctioned kidnap'
Bob Geldof today accused the secretive family courts of 'state-sanctioned kidnap'.
The pop star turned campaigner said the 'barbaric' family law system wrecked the lives of children and their families.
He spoke as he launched a report that severely criticised the way family courts deal with cases - particularly in which one separated parent wants to move far away from where the other lives, taking the children with them.
It said that most decisions in such cases - which are conducted behind closed doors and never become known to the public - cause children harm.
Mr Geldof said: 'In the near future the family law under which we endure will be seen as barbaric, criminally damaging, abusive, neglectful; harmful to society, the family, the parents and the children in whose name it purports to act.
'Here is one more report that empirically nails the obvious fact that to remove a child from their father (in the hugely vast majority of cases), their grandparents and other family, their school and friends, is wholly destructive to a child and its family.
'How much longer must we put up with the state sanctioned kidnap of our most vulnerable? Because in effect that's what "leave to remove" amounts to.'
The singer's protest comes at a time of growing controversy over the workings of the family courts, which have been repeatedly blamed by fathers' groups in recent years for favouring mothers and shutting separated fathers out of their children's lives.
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Justice Secretary Jack Straw has tried to lift the secrecy around family cases by ordering the courts to allow journalists to sit in cases. Judges, however, have responded by imposing orders that ban them from reporting what they hear.
A series of senior judges, including the President of the Family Division Sir Mark Potter, have delivered speeches in which they have tried to warn Mr Straw off further attempts at reform.
Sir Mark has drawn a contrast between the welfare of the child and the 'demands of the press in relation to so-called transparency'.
Sir Bob is the most high-profile figure to suggest that the courts are deficient and that the secrecy hides decisions that damage children.
Lifting the secrecy: Justice Secretary Jack Straw has ordered the courts to allow journalists to sit in on family cases
'How much longer do we tolerate the vested interest intransigence of the appalling UK family justice system?,' he asked.
'How long before just one of them admit they have got it all wrong and apologise to their myriad victims?
'This report is important, timely and vital. To accept its findings, which could have and should have, been conducted at any time in the past 30 years, is to accept the awful conclusion that rather than Solomon-like, resolving our tragically human disputes with understanding, compassion and logical pragmatism, the courts have consistently acted against society's interest through the application of prejudice, gender bias and awful impartial cruelty.'
The report, Relocation and Leave to Remove, was published by The Custody Minefield, a legal information website. It said there were 'serious flaws' in the handling of child relocation cases where one separated parent wants to move a child away from the other, either within Britain or abroad.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: 'We are creating a family court system that is transparent, accountable, and inspires public confidence in its good work, while still protecting the privacy of children and families involved.
'That is why we have allowed greater media access to family courts which will lead to greater trust.'
Mr Geldof's intervention came three weeks after a landmark family case in the Appeal Court in which a mother was forced to hand over a son to his father despite claims that the switch would be 'almost cataclysmic' for the child.
In the case - which could be reported except for the names of those involved - Lord Justice Wall said that the 11-year-old boy had suffered emotional harm because of his separation from his father and should go to live with him.
The boy said that his father had 'ruined my life' and said he would 'punch and kick' rather than leave his mother's home.
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Bob Geldof accuses 'barbaric' family courts of 'kidnapping children from their fathers'