I’ve signed a public letter to the Justice Secretary – convened by my Labour colleague, Shadow Policing & Crime Minister Louise Haigh – which calls for an independent inquiry into the family courts, and amendments to the Children’s Act to remove the parental rights of those who have fathered a child through rape.
The letter, and a related Ten Minute Rule Bill by Louise Haigh, follow on from the harrowing case of Sammy Woodhouse, a child sexual exploitation survivor who recently waived her anonymity to speak out about her experience of the family courts. Her abuser, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for multiple rape, was notified of a variation to her son’s care order and therefore offered the opportunity to seek access to her son.
Victims of rape and domestic abuse are being let down by the family courts. It cannot be right that the law allows those who have been jailed for appalling crimes to use the courts to re-victimise vulnerable and traumatised families. I agree with my Louise that we need a comprehensive inquiry into the treatment of victims of abuse and violence in the family courts to establish the extent of this problem, and I would fully support meaningful legislative changes through the Children’s Act and Domestic Abuse Bill to address the injustices in the system.
Here’s the text of the letter in full: