• Correcting, clarifying or commenting on media reports of family court cases
  • Explaining or commenting on published Judgments of family court cases
  • Highlighting other transparency news


Inaccurate, misleading or distorting 

(Still) unclear: 

We continue to seek clarity about the facts that underpinned John Hemming’s comments to the Telegraph for their April 2017 report, Child locked in bedroom by grandparents is taken into care. See A Simple Question and The Shaggy Dog Story Continues..blogs. The latest request to Mr Hemming and conversations are at this twitter thread. We will update again when we have fuller information:


Notably accurate (or otherwise transparency positive) reports

BBC News Online linked viewers to the detailed research report finally published by the MOJ on Friday 30th June (following an investigation by the Mail on Sunday).

While the Mail on Sunday reported Prisoners who take the rehabilitation courses are at least 25 per cent more likely to be convicted of further sex crimes than those who do not, the BBC and the Guardian reported (following publication) that researchers actually found prisoners completing the programme were slightly more likely to offend than a control group. No press outlet seemed able to report any good reason however, for the apparent MOJ decision not to publish the research until Friday 30th June, despite withdrawing the SOTP programme in March 2017:



Charles GARD and Others against the United Kingdom, no. 39793/17 ECHR: We updated here following the ECHR decision about baby Charlie Gard and his parents:


T v S (Wardship) [2011] EWHC 1608 (Fam) (27 May 2011)We commented on this newly published decision of Hedley J. It’s a useful example of parents acting against their children’ interests, irrespective of the gender of those parents; and the limits of the court’s capacity and responsibility for ‘fixing’ that:


H (Children : exclusion of Mckenzie friend) [2017] EWFC B31 (05 March 2017) We explained and commented on this family court case in which Her Honour Judge Atkinson refused permission to appeal an order banning a paid McKenzie friend from “helping” a mother involved in a dispute about her child:


Berkshire Council’s apparent unlawful refusal to register a Sikh couple to adopt: Rights Info explained the couples application under the Equality Act (supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission) for a Declaration that they be permitted to adopt here:


J v B (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Transgender) [2017] EWFC 4 (30 January 2017): UK Human Rights Blog (and others) reported that permission has been granted to the Father to appeal in this case that the Transparency Project wrote about here at first instance: Transgender v ultra-Orthodox Jewish community? 



Access Denied: LASPO 4 years on:  The Law Society called for early implementation of the long-promised Government review of LASPO; for knock-on costs to other public services to be assessed; for ‘advice deserts’ to be tackled; and for consideration of restoration of means tested early legal advice (‘legal help’) for civil law.

Key recommendations for family law in their 25-point suggested Action Plan include: restoring legal aid for Special Guardianship Orders; review of the civil means test; enabling solicitors and frontline domestic violence support organisations to certify that an individual is a victim of domestic violence for legal aid purposes; ending the time limit from last incident for applications for legal aid under the Domestic Violence Gateway; re-instating early advice in family cases; monitoring mediation and funding MIAMS for a year; advertising the telephone advice line better e.g. with details sent out with every education, health and care plan assessment decision; improving court data collection on the impact of LiPs on the justice system.

Questions come to mind- such as whether any review of the means testing scheme might find a way for parents such as those of Charlie Gard to, (exceptionally) access legal aid ?; what risks, if any, of perverse incentives might there be from empowering solicitors and domestic violence organisations to self-certify their own clients?; is there also key data to be collected on the impact of the court system without a lawyer, on LiP’s?:


Report on the Media and Communications List Consultation: Mr Justice Warby’s short, accessible report has been published at the judicial office, soon after the consultation (which the Transparency Project responded to) closed last month. Responses on the privacy injunction statistics scheme were unequivocal and overwhelming in their views on the importance of the scheme and its current inadequacy. The Transparency Project are cited as having submitted a detailed discussion of the topic (page 8). The report responded to universal respondent support for a meeting and a users committee by confirming a meeting will take place and involve discussion of the formation of a Users Group Committee:


Cafcass Open Board Meeting, 18 June 2017: We asked about the joint ADCS/Cafcass agreement and were told that Cafcass were likely to withdraw it. (See our post below dated 29 June).  We didn’t, at the time of posting, spot NAGALRO’s website announcement (un-tweeted), of a letter received from Anthony Douglas on 20th June confirming the withdrawal, or we would have linked to it. Nor have we seen any formal announcement as yet from Cafcass/ADCS:


Family Court Reporting Watch Feedback: Thank you to Marie Finch for taking the trouble to share her perception on  the work of Family Court Reporting Watch at the Transparency Project at by commenting as follows at last week’s Roundup:

Thank you for all you do. I have learned a lot, and feel less anxious about child protection in general, after reading your articles. We tend to fear the things we don’t understand. 

Helping parents and the public to be less anxious about child protection, where appropriate, (and to have the confidence to engage with the system, alongside the tools to question or challenge where needed) is a significant aim of the project.


John Bolch reported, that the latest published statistics confirm the continuing trend the Cardiff research identified, of falling numbers of published judgments after an initial peak in the year after the judicial guidance was first issued:



Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinenon via Creative Commons licence – thanks