PRESS RELEASE 21st January 2019 : For Immediate release
The Draft Government Domestic Abuse Bill must protect the vulnerable, including those who are falsely accused
Coercive control through false allegations and denial of child contact is a serious and harrowing form of child/adult abuse
The bill needs checks and balances to ensure justice is not denied to either party
The Government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill seeks to protect vulnerable witnesses from cross-examination in family courts. It is right that someone who alleges being a victim of domestic abuse should not be cross-examined by the alleged perpetrator. But it is also right that the accused must be supported in defending themselves. The current system that qualifies those who make allegations of abuse to legal aid in family courts, but not the accused, is simply a denial of access to justice. This encourages false allegations that are a common feature of family separation disputes. It allows the system to be gamed and manipulated to abuse the innocent, leaving them unable to respond effectively to an accuser who is benefitting from legal assistance from the state’s coffers. Most litigants in person would rather not cross-examine ex-partners but have no choice as they cannot afford a lawyer. Being cross-examined by a lawyer whilst alone and un-represented is a frightening experience that people should not have to suffer, regardless of what they are accused of.
More specifically, if a person representing themselves is not to be permitted to cross-examine their accuser, then, as stated by former High Court Judge Mark Hedley today on the BBC’s World at One today, they must be provided by the state with an advocate who can do so on their behalf.
Families Need Fathers also propose that anyone found to have deliberately sought to game the system, who makes false allegations to the detriment of ex-partners and their children must be treated every bit as seriously.
It is reported that the Bill also proposes that polygraph tests are to be used. FNF would support the use of such techniques by the court in situations such as pending finding of fact hearings so long as this is done even-handedly. They could be used as a useful initial step to test evidence provided by both sides. Both the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator may be highly vulnerable and both must be treated as such.
Jerry Karlin, Chair and Managing Trustee of Families Need Fathers says:
“Contact denial, without good reason, especially when supported by unfounded allegations, is coercive abuse as harmful and life-destroying to children and adults and has to be addressed within this package of measures.”
Notes for editors:
Families Need Fathers - because both parents matter
FNF is a registered UK charity providing information and support on shared parenting issues arising from family breakdown, and support to divorced and separated parents, irrespective of gender or marital status. FNF is NOT a fathers' rights group - we support the best interests of children - namely mature and collaborative parenting by both parents - an objective which is inadequately promoted in the family court system and associated services.
Our primary concern is the maintenance of the child’s meaningful relationship with both parents. Founded in 1974, FNF helps thousands of parents every year.
For comment, further quotations or information please contact: email@example.com or call on 0300 0300 110.
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