Monday, December 22, 2014

Father is banned from seeing his children and entering his own home or street for ten years after wife launched 'Kafkaesque' legal proceedings against him in secret

Meddling lawyers make family dispute worse

A father suffered a Kafkaesque injustice when he was thrown out of his home without warning and effectively barred from seeing his six children for five months, a High Court judge said yesterday.

After being banned from his street, the man was later jailed overnight and convicted of a crime for phoning his wife.

Mr Justice Jackson accused lawyers and courts of injustice due to ‘unproven allegations’.

The father, named only as Mr R, was barred from his home after his wife took out a non-molestation order.

He was also forbidden from contacting her except via her lawyers. Such orders are designed to protect women from domestic violence.

But Mr Justice Jackson said the ban was granted ‘in proceedings of which [Mr R] was unaware’. The hearing before a district judge on June 20 lasted no more than five minutes.

Mrs R’s lawyers did not attempt to contact her husband and he knew nothing of the order until he came home from work one day later that month. Despite the claim that his wife was in danger of violence, she allowed him to stay overnight and he left the following morning.

Days later, he was arrested for an ‘innocuous breach’ of the order after calling his wife to ask about the case, Mr Justice Jackson said. She phoned police and he was held overnight and taken to court.

With no lawyer, he pleaded guilty to breaking the order, and was sentenced to a day in prison.

‘He was a man of good character who now has a criminal record,’ Mr Justice Jackson said. ‘And … the effect of the original order was to deprive him of contact with his children for fully five months. All in all, Mr R could be forgiven for feeling like the hapless protagonist in Kafka’s The Trial.’

Mr Justice Jackson said that following marriage problems, Mrs R had contacted solicitors in May, hoping to persuade Mr R to leave.

The lawyers applied for a court order, saying the wife was at risk of harm. They claimed Mr R had shoved her, thrown objects, and had pushed her to the floor 17 years ago.

The application added that the wife had previously been expected to ‘engage in distasteful sexual practices’ and that her husband had controlled the finances.

But Mr Justice Jackson said the only recent incident listed was a row over a credit card bill and that the order was ‘entirely unrealistic’.

It was five months before an appeal reached the High Court, which ruled the order should never have been made. It found 11 injustices by the courts that granted and maintained the order.

The father, who can now see his children, told the court in a letter he was ‘disillusioned with the justice system … which removes me from my home and family with a completely fabricated statement’.

A police report said Mrs R begged officers not to arrest Mr R over his phone call and that her solicitor had told her to contact them.

Original report here

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