Fury as UK MP tells child abuse suspects to flee the country
A British MP has sparked controversy by urging parents suspected of abusing or neglecting their children to flee the country if they fear being denied a fair hearing.
Liberal Democrat John Hemming, chairman of the Justice for Families group, said the legal system was stacked heavily in favour of local authorities. He said he had been contacted by hundreds of parents who claimed they were being unfairly targeted.
"All the cards are held by the local authority. It has large resources to fight the cases, it does all the assessments," he said. "My advice to people, if they can afford it, is just to go abroad. You can't get a fair trial here, because you can't rely on the evidence being fair."
Mr Hemming cited the case of a young woman with learning difficulties who fled to Spain to prevent her baby being taken by social services, which had flagged concerns over her ability to look after the child. The woman returned to the UK when her parents were granted shared responsibility and guaranteeing she could keep the child.
Local authorities made 10,000 applications to take children away from their parents and into care last year, the highest number on record. Some campaigners claim social workers are overreacting following high-profile incidents of child abuse and neglect.
But the Children and Family Court Advisors and Support Service Cafcass), which looks after the interests of children in the family courts, said the figures demonstrated that more children were being protected.
Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas criticised Mr Hemming's call for parents to flee Britain, saying it would not help.
"To advocate leaving altogether doesn't solve the problem for the vast majority of children and parents who need our courts to be as good as they possibly can be," he said. (© Independent News Service)