UK Family Law Reform
FAO; Clerk to the Justice
4 February 2013
Dear Mr Walker,
Re; Resignation of the Chairman
of the Justice Committee
I am writing to you as Clerk
to the Justice Committee to make a formal
request for the resignation of Sir Alan Beith MP as Chairman. As you
aware I recently contacted you and the Prime Minister regarding my concerns
about the consideration of the draft clause on Shared Parenting legislation
and in your reply you stated that is unlikely that Sir Alan Beith MP
Justice Committee would wish to comment at that stage.
However in the light of the
evidence of recent statements made by Sir Alan
Beith MP I believe it is now necessary for the Justice Committee to
fully aware of his attitude which is overtly sexist. In a programme
Woman's Hour on 24 January on BBC Radio 4 Sir Alan Beith MP explains
the proposed Shared Parenting legislation has arisen from;
AB 31.40 The belief that
the non-resident parent just does not get a fair
deal and particularly that courts maybe bias towards mothers although
questioning individual decisions we found that there is no evidence
no way generally is that the case. The belief is quite a real one that
to be addressed. But we think enforcement would address it much more
Later on in the interview
the presenter asks,
JM 33.18 What would you like
to see happen to those who fail to comply?
Sir Alan Beith MP states,
AB 33.23 It's quite a difficult
one because you do no good if you put, for
example, put a woman in prison for persistent failure to obey court
in so far as the arrangements for the child are concerned because you
deprive the child of another parental relationship, it is losing one
JM 34.02 But what do you
do with a woman who says, 'No way I can't stand
him. She is not going there!'
AB 34.06 I think court decisions
have to be enforced. Enforcement action may
take the form of officers going to the house to ensure that the courts
decisions are satisfied it may involve other sorts of penalty but obviously
prison is not an answer it is indeed very rarely an answer to the problems
of this kind.
At the beginning the Woman's
Hour broadcast Sir Alan Beith MP expects us to
believe that there is no bias in the family courts at all, only the
'perception'. Yet by the end of the interview Sir Alan Beith MP is
acknowledging that because mothers are treated as the principal carer
are above the law.
It is incredible that the
Chairman of the Justice Committee who is
responsible for overseeing the Family Justice Review and the operation
the family courts can see nothing wrong with the statement,
'You do no good if you put,
for example, a woman in prison for persistent
failure to obey court orders.'
This comment is not a perceived
bias but an actual prejudice and is overtly
sexist. Many fathers will say that it is because judges share this prejudice
that they find it impossible to receive justice in UK family courts
attitude is a reason for introducing Shared Parenting legislation as
The attitude of Sir Alan
Beith MP to Shared Parenting legislation is wrong
because; 1. It presupposes that the mother is the principal carer. 2.
puts women or mothers above the law. 3. It gives serving judges permission
from the Justice Committee to treat women differently from men. 4. It
mothers listening to Woman's Hour, and women generally, that they will
treated differently than men when they come before family courts. 5.
ignores the fact that fathers also face imprisonment. 6. It puts a greater
value on mothers caring for children than fathers which is sexist. 7.
fails to identify his own prejudice. 8. It fails to recognise legitimate
concerns from others about formal justice. 9. It seeks to devalue opinions
which are not the same as his own as a 'perception'. 10. It fails to
recognise that, 'It takes a whole village to bring up a child'. 11.
to acknowledge that we should all be treated equally before the law.
Obviously I believe Sir Alan
Beith MP has disqualified himself from
overseeing the implementation of Shared Parenting legislation although
clearly he does not realise there is anything wrong with his comments
therefore I am asking you to put this request before the Justice Committee.
(Please note the full interview is currently online at;
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