The opposition to secret courts is gathering pace : Eureka!

Justice should never been conducted in secrecy. Just look at the family courts!


Family courts give us a sinister preview of how secret courts would operate

I thought I would share my Eureka moment with a few embellishments to

Christopher Booker


Telegraph Article, is this what we have been waiting for all

these years?

MADTwo days running last week another newspaper gave huge space to the shocking story of Wanda Maddocks, a middle-aged woman sentenced in her absence to five months in prison for removing her aged father from a care home where he had been placed against his family’s wishes by Stoke-on-Trent social workers.

What made this story still more disturbing was that, until her father died, the entire case, including her imprisonment, was shrouded in secrecy by a mysterious body known as the Court of Protection. This was set up under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, giving the state draconian new powers to take over the lives and property of those deemed unfit to look after their own affairs. The newspaper that reported this has been running a campaign against the Government’s proposals to allow judges to sit in secrecy on cases involving “national security”.

No to secret courts: Some of the headlines from the Mail's campaign over the past few months

More than once I have argued in The Sunday Telegraph that it is all very well to protest at the implications of future proposals, but what of the terrifying evidence we already have that allowing courts to sit in secret can lead to all kinds of abuse? It is precisely this that has led to the mockery of justice that takes place behind the closed doors of our family courts, where parents whose children have been removed from them by social workers for no good reason routinely find the most basic principles of British justice stood on their head.

When the newspaper broke its story about Maddocks, I was pleased to be asked, thanks to my reporting here in The Sunday Telegraph, to add a imagesCAV2QXDRcommentary explaining how the need for its campaign against secret courts is confirmed by what already goes on in our family courts. I was even able to give a similar story to the Maddocks case – and just as horrifying: a Court of Protection judge has been able to prohibit reporting of a case involving an old man being held by social workers in a care home apparently against his and his family’s wishes – apart from a disgracefully one-sided account, written from the viewpoint of the social workers and merely based on the court judgment.

Judge Peter BowersUnlike criminal court, civil matters can be conducted behind ‘Closed Court’ and away from press and public scrutiny. What have these judges got to hide but INJUSTICE? Daveyone.

Delighted as I am to see another newspaper adding a powerful voice to this campaign to expose what goes so hideously wrong when courts can hide their workings from public view, we have a mighty battle on our hands. New examples come up every day of how this secrecy allows abuse of the Human Rights Act, which judges are supposed to uphold. One of these involves Vicky Haigh, the former racehorse trainer and mother of a two-year-old child, who was again, last Wednesday, arrested and sent back to prison, for what appear to be very odd reasons indeed. On this I shall report next week.

judge-judy-2-310x415AMERICA’S MOST FAMOUS judge has told a former Minister for Justice that Ireland should have cameras in every courtroom.

Speaking to Nora Owen on TV3’s Midweek, Judge Judy said closed courtrooms protect two things – bad judges and bad lawyers.

“They also protect bad institutions that serve thoseoptional_legal_free courts, such as social services,” she continued. “They should be there as the norm. If you have a specific exclusion, then you make it.”

Judy Sheindlin passed the New York bar in 1965 and was appointed as a judge to New York’s family court by Mayor Ed Koch in 1982.

They have realised this already in the USA so who will be the first to reform this crumbling  house of cards and reveal it for what it is worldwide?



Secret court in control of a £2billion fortune: It holds the assets of 16,000 vulnerable people – but pays them paltry interest!–pays-paltry-interest.html