EXCLUSIVE STORIES ON KEN CLARKE AND LEGAL AID; CAFCASS; HELPLINE FIGURES
The July 2011 issue of McKenzie, the journal of Families Need Fathers, was published last week and includes the following exclusive stories:
• Ken Clarke recognises difficulties in current legal aid proposals;
• Cafcass is found guilty of maladministration and compelled to pay a father compensation;
• Families Need Fathers’ telephone helpline logs a record number of calls.
Further details of these stories can be found below.
Ken Clarke recognises difficulties in current legal aid proposals
Attending a local FNF meeting in Nottingham, Secretary of State for Justice Ken Clarke addressed questions from attendees about legal aid in private family law. Mr Clarke recognised the problems caused by legal aid in private family law proceedings, in particular in prolonging proceedings where only one party is publicly funded.
Furthermore, Mr Clarke expressed concern at the potential effects of the exemption from the withdrawal of legal aid in private law cases where domestic abuse was alleged. In particular, Mr Clarke highlighted that an unintended consequence of the exemption could be to provide an incentive to falsely allege domestic abuse in order to secure legal aid.
Cafcass is found guilty of maladministration and compelled to pay a father compensation
The Parliamentary Ombudsman found Cafcass guilty of maladministration in failing to properly investigate the complaints of a Derbyshire man, John Johnstone. Cafcass were ordered to apologise, pay £250 compensation and reinvestigate the original issues. Mr Johnstone’s case was taken to the Ombudsman by his local MP Heather Wheeler (South Derbyshire).
Families Need Fathers’ telephone helpline logs a record number of calls
The Families Need Fathers evening telephone helpline answered 4,125 calls in the year from June 2010 to May 2011. The May total was the highest ever, with 627 calls being logged.
Analysis of the call data suggests that breakdowns are typically occurring earlier in relationships, often after 2 or 3 years. The children involved are therefore typically much younger, sometimes only months or a year or two old.
FNF’s Helpline Co-ordinator, Anthony Esler, added, “Our figures also show that we are getting many more calls from Grandparents, second partners and even the resident parent. This is clearly due to the fact that we are becoming better known and more families are becoming aware that Families Need Fathers is the charity to turn to when a relationship breaks down.”
For comment, case studies or information please contact:
Ross Jones, Acting Director of Policy and Research 020 7613 5060
For general enquiries about McKenzie please contact:
John Forsyth, Editor 07738 285 954
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