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An Exercise in Absolute Futility: Whatever happened to family justice? by Nicholas Langford

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Football’s Coming Home


excellent narrative and collaborating the relevant research on this issue.

Originally posted on ExInjuria:

One of the remarkable aspects of the recent Penelope Leach furore is the persistence of the falsehood which is at the root of her beliefs and is a central tenet of her book.  It doesn’t matter that the report which is the origin of this falsehood has been discredited, pulled to shreds by a number of academics and disowned by its lead author, or that all other reports on the same issue tell an entirely different story; the falsehood remains the version preferred by Leach and her supporters.

Another falsehood which refuses to lie down and die has been resurrected recently during World Cup season: it is the belief that during some but not all sports tournaments, particularly when the national team is playing, there is a surge in domestic violence.  Here is a version of the belief from legal blogger John Bolch:

 The connection between the World Cup…

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Pilgrims’ End – “The Truth Shall Set You Free”


Today is the final day of The Pilgrim Fathers’ Progress. Having arrived safely in Canterbury last night,  and enjoyed some well-deserved post-pilgrimage refreshments and most importantly a good night’s rest, they met with the Dean Of Canterbury Cathedral this morning at 10am for him to receive the petition on behalf of the Archbishop.

Father Thomas writes:

The truth shall set you free.” These words are to be found at the knave inside Canterbury Cathedral on the  compass rose in the f


Today I was shown these words by Dean Robert on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was very moved when I heard him speak them because it signifies everything that Pilgrim Fathers stands for.

 The family court claims to act in the best interests of the child. However the family court does not record outcomes for children, so how does it know?

This national scandal puts UK at the bottom of the league of developed nations for how children are treated.

The truth shall set you free. But lies will trap you in a web of deceit. And that is where UK family justice currently resides.

I would like to thank all our well wishers. But I want to send a special thank you and a big hug to all my fellow pilgrims: Matt, Vince, Stuart, Adam, Paul. But a big round of applause needs to go to Matt for being the only one to walk all the way. Also a big thanks to Dean Robert for greeting us and the Archbishop’s staff for showing us around.

We look forward to your involvement next year when we repeat the pilgrimage from the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand to Canterbury starting Tue 14 May 2015





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Pilgrim Fathers – Onwards towards Canterbury

Today is the final part of the Pilgrim Fathers’ Progress. Later today, they will arrive in Canterbury, where they will meet with the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral,   the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis who on behalf of the Archbishop, will receive a petition from the Fathers – you can view the petition at the end of this blog-post. 

The Fathers (Matt and Tom) found yesterday very tough going – walking 18 miles in warm sunshine with blistered feet and aching bones is tough going, the journey yesterday was only achieved knowing there is support for the Fathers, and of course and feeling their  children  were with them every step of the way. The children who are always in their father’s hearts and thoughts. The children have been prevented from seeing their fathers.  With some upbeat music accompanying them, the Fathers eventually reached  the village of Boughton under Blean shortly before 8pm yesterday evening. 

As ever, Father Thomas has written his own update on yesterday’s events:

Then there were two. A beautiful day beckoned and CAFCASS Chatham were the first to be visited and receive some leaflets. This detour disrupted our pilgrimage somewhat. Pilgrim Matt soldiered on bravely whilst Pilgrim Thos reconnoitered ahead on the bus. Rendezvous at Sittingbourne and then the pair went off again. Pilgrim Thos once more bravely displaying pathfinder abilities by forging ahead on fossil fueled transport to relieve badly blistered feet at the beautiful White Horse Inn at Boughton under Blean. Pilgrim Matt arrived needing TLC. Message received from Canterbury to advise that the Dean will now meet with us to accept our petition.

Today, Matt and Tom are joined by Pilgrim Paul Cook, who will walk the final leg of their Pilgrimage with them to Canterbury Cathedral.

Pilgrims, you are amazing men and fathers.  Your love for your children shines through everything you do, one day they will know that their Dads undertook this Pilgrimage to highlight the devastation of parental Alienation on both the children and the parents affected, that you did this for them. They will be proud of you, Pilgrim Fathers.











TO: Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby), Archbishop of York (John Sentamu), Bishop of Southwark (Christopher Chessun)

We demand that HM Courts of the Family Division (Family Courts) in England and Wales act in the ‘best interests of the child’.

(1) Firstly by enforcing Court Orders for Contact that are ignored.

The public perceives that orders issued by the UK Family Courts ‘are not worth the paper they are written on’.

This is because currently a majority of the Court Orders for Contact issued by the Family Courts are ignored with the consequence that children lose contact with the parent with whom they do not live (normally the father). The ONS states that 1 in 3 children live without their father and the CSJ advises that 1 in 3 children lose contact with their father permanently.

As a result, this makes a mockery of justice and is a deceit perpetrated on those parents who have spent time and money making an application to court and who have achieved the objective of obtaining a court order.

It is also a fraud perpetrated on those children who are the subject of these Court Orders because the orders were made ‘in the best interest of the child’.

Failing to enforce court orders is also a breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which the UK is a signatory because the order was made ‘in the best interests of the child’ and so to not enforce an order when it goes ignored is not ‘in the best interests of the child’.

To do this does not demand a change in the law. All that is required is for the court to uphold the law.

We demand that the President of the Family Division of High Court of England and Wales ensures that all judges act in accordance with the law by enforcing court orders when they are ignored.

(2) Secondly by keeping records on the outcomes for those children whose cases it addresses.

MoJ informs that “It is not the role of the court to monitor the on-going effect of a contact order”. How can the Family Court claim that it acts ‘in the best interests of the child’ by ordering No Contact or Indirect Contact with a parent and then to not monitor the effect of that decision on the child? Similarly when a court orders very limited and strictly controlled Direct Contact, surely the courts are interested in the impact this is having on the child?

The statistics speak for themselves. ONS informs Britain has the highest proportion of fatherless families of any major European country. “3.8 million are living ‘at the mercy of family courts’.” (Sir Paul Coleridge, Daily Mail, 14/7/11).

We humbly ask for your support on behalf of the children and the future of this country.

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The Pilgrims’ Progress

Today is day three of the Pilgrim Fathers’ pilgrimage.   The Fathers walked an impressive 17  miles yesterday and at 9am this morning, they set out from the historic city of Rochester.  They will head firstly to Chatham on a lovely sunny and cool morning and the Cafcass office and then on to Boughton under Bean near Faversham.

In an email this morning, the Fathers wrote:

If the second day was tougher than the first , we are aware today will be tougher still. Maybe mentally as our numbers have halved but physically as our joints and aches remind us that we haven’t recovered from the past 2 days. The warm weather may be a factor with sunshine predicted all day and temperatures rising from a cool start.

But we soldier on for the cause and for the many alienated children in the UK.

Thanks again for your support from

Matt Tom and Adam
Pilgrim Fathers.


Father Thomas’s update for the events of yesterday:

Yesterday we lost fathers Vincent and Stuart. Also gained father Brian for a couple of beers in the bar. Todays survivors slept well but a bit stiff. The British Army’s representative being the least sore by a long way. Visited Dartford County court who were happy to take our leaflets. Then we embarked on the gruelling uphill struggle on the A2 through a suburban sprawl pock marked with patches of industry and small enclaves of countryside. We wondered at what a 14c pilgrim would think as we witnessed the visible presence of a colonial empire and the audible presence of the EU in this once beautiful kingdom. After lunch we eventually  reached open countryside and the long hike to Rochester which ended blissfully at a poor decrepit hostelry by the Medway bridge. Exhausted the pilgrims restored their vitality with ale. 

People form all over the world are reading about the Pilgrim Fathers and their progress – messages of support and words of encouragement would mean a lot to the Fathers and spur them onwards to wards Canterbury Cathedral.  They will see those messages and know that there is a great deal of support for them and the reasons why they are doing this.  Please leave your messages of support in the comments section.



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Pilgrim Fathers – Update on Day One.

Update on the first day of the Pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral by the Pilgrim Fathers (who are Tom, Matt, Vincent, Paul and Adam)  as recounted by Thomas Judge :

On a fine day, the Fathers assembled at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.  Father Thos put a leaflet inside the  RCJ, which seemed to annoy the security presence( G4 security); who ” went ballistic” (in Father Thos’s words).   Matt then decided to add a little colour to the outside of the court building, and  stucka  poster up.  The route took them through Middle Temple where they  delivered  leaflets to barristers and then walked onto Southwark Court.  

The Fathers then moved onwards to Blackheath Tea Hut for a pit stop, going via Deptford.  The vast expanse of the heath cheered up the Fathers  walked east out of London into the dark rain cloud that followed them  all the way to Bexleyheath.  They  stopped for a well earned “shandy” at the Jolly Miller.  Thos read the Millers Tale ( a rather bawdy tale)  to the assembled Pilgrims but it rained well and truly on them so it was decided (very wisely) that they  retire inside for more ale. Eventually the Pilgrims reached their destination of Dartford after meeting some mad cows (see image below).  A “small quantity”  of Ale was had on arrival and more anecdotes were shared. ” Lovely day out.”

I’m sure a well-earned half of shandy will be shared between the Fathers when they arrive at Rochester later this afternoon.

May the sun shine on you, Pilgrim Fathers; we are walking with you in our hearts.




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Pilgrim Fathers



Detail from Window in Canterbury Cathedral








This morning, at 10am, five fathers set out from the Royal Courts of Justice to begin a modern-day pilgrimage  to walk to Canterbury Cathedral, loosely following the route of the Pilgrim’s in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.   The pilgrims won’t be calling at shrines of Saints and asking the Saints for some sort of miracle as long-ago pilgrims would have done;  instead, our modern-day Pilgrim Fathers will be calling at court houses along the route, and handing out leaflets to interested by-standers, and explaining why this pilgrimage is being made.

The five men have all suffered a nightmare-ish experience in the family courts – and want to raise awareness of the issues they, and many others have faced.   They also plan to petition the Bishop of Southwark and the Archbishop of Canterbury to make the church aware of the traumatic situation that many fathers (and some mothers)  find themselves in.

Today, they are walking towards Dartford; tomorrow on to Rochester; Wednesday on to Ospringe, and finally arriving in Canterbury on Thursday. If you come across them, give them a wave, read one of thier leaflets, they will be happy to take the time to explain why they feel this Pilgrimage is necessary.

I met with one of the Founding Fathers at the weekend; the charismatic Thomas Judge, who explained to me that this Pilgrimage marks a new era in raising awareness of what goes on behind the closed doors of the Family Court;  he believes that education is the key to unlock the door to change – education and raising public awareness.  He has promised that he will email me daily updates at the end of each day, and I will share them here.

It’s without irony that I note that Canterbury Cathedral is home to the ever-burning Amnesty International Candle  – the plaque beside the candle reads

“This candle burns perpetually as a reminder of prisoners of conscience and all those who suffer unjustly for their beliefs and actions”

Very appropriate wording for these modern-day Pilgrims, who have suffered unjustly for wanting to be part of their children’s lives, who have suffered at the hands of those who have prevented these fathers from having relationships with their children; and who remain prisoners until there is change to the way the justice system and society as a whole treats fathers.

Amnesty International Candle



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