FAMILY COURTS 6

INSURE YOURSELF AGAINST DIVORCE
Insure yourself against divorce: Minister's advice on marriage as huge legal aid crackdown looms

Couple should take out insurance on their marriages, ministers warned yesterday. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke wants to scrap legal aid for divorce lawyers. This means anyone who wants to protect their share of the fallout from a broken marriage will have to pay for their own courtroom advice. The proposal raises the spectre of hundreds of thousands of husbands and wives taking out ‘before the event’ policies against the cost of divorce.

Critics will see such insurance cover as putting further pressure on the natural bonds of trust and affection that should keep married couples together. Yesterday one of Mr Clarke’s ministerial team, Jonathan Djanogly, said: ‘Couples are too ready and too willing to run to the courts. We think there can be a wider market in before-the-event insurance. We would be creating a new market, but we want to see a market.’

The proposal is part of a seismic shake-up of state-funded legal assistance announced by Mr Clarke. His sweeping reforms include:

* Barring aid for claims against hospitals and schools;
* Withdrawing support from actions by prisoners and welfare benefit disputes;
* Slashing payments to lawyers in ‘no-win no-fee’ cases.

Mr Clarke wants to save at least £400million a year from an annual bill of £2.1billion. Some barristers who live on legal aid paid in civil disputes are expected to see their fees slump by 40 per cent. The decision to end legal aid for divorce comes in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court judgment that gave legal force to prenup deals. Many couples will now be paying lawyers to prepare prenups.

  • FULL ARTICLE HERE
  • Kenneth Clarke calls a halt to the legal aid gravy train (We heard this years ago and NOTHING happened)
  • An overdue end to the abuse of legal aid (A racket they CANT or wont stop)
  • FACEBOOK USED AS DIVORCE WEAPON VIDEO

    FULL SCREEN

    A WARNING TO ALL MEN ABOUT THE DANGERS OF HAVING AN ONLINE PRESENCE. THE DIVORCE LAWYER MAFIA ACTING FOR FEMALES ARE THE MOST RUTHLESS BASTARDS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH AND WILL ILLEGALLY UNDERMINE YOUR PRIVACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS FOR GREED AND THE LEGAL AID PIGGY BANK. THE STATE FUNDS THESE EVIL BASTARDS AS FLEECING MEN IS BIG BUSINESS WHO USE BITTER AND TWISTED EX-WIVES TO SLANDER AND SMEAR YOU AND WHO WILL BE INSTRUCTED TO INVADE YOUR PRIVACY BY THESE LEGAL MOBSTERS .
    WEDDINGS SHOULD BE ABOUT BRIDESMAIDS RATHER THAN LAWYERS
    family court mafia Modern marriage has lost its romance, says High Court judge

    Mr Justice Mostyn said he had a 'rosy romantic' view of marriage and questioned whether couples should have to negotiate over their finances before they walk up the aisle. The newly-appointed family law judge was speaking in the wake of the decision of Supreme Court judges last month to give legal force to prenup agreements. As Nicholas Mostyn QC he represented Nicholas Granatino, the husband who lost out on a major share of the £100 million fortune of his wife, heiress Katrin Radmacher, when the Supreme Court judges ruled that her prenup must stand.

    In a speech to MPs, the judge said that prenups will bring lawyers into the decision to marry and usually act against the interests of women when a marriage breaks up. He told the all-party family law group that JUDGES rather than Parliament had made divorce law, and had done so by their decisions in major cases over the past decade. The judge said that until recent times the spoils of a broken marriage were divided by the divorce courts according to 'needs generated by the marriage'.

    But judges had decided that the wealth acquired during a marriage should be split equally between them. Now, he said, 'it is an extraordinary truth that when two people get married they have no idea what they are signing up for, particularly in terms of economic obligations. 'There is nothing printed on the back of the marriage certificate explaining what are the terms of the agreement they have just entered into.'

  • SOURCE AND FULL ARTICLE HERE
  • MORE DIVORCE GOLDDIGGING BY EX-WIFE OF OIL MAGNATE
    A millionaire's former wife today asked judges to double her divorce settlement, claiming £5 million was 'far too low'.

    Victoria Jones, 44, says she got just 20 per cent of the £25 million marriage assets from ex-husband Gareth. Mr Jones, 58, who made his fortune in the Scottish offshore oil and gas industry, claims the pay-out is fair following a 'troubled' 10-year marriage. Martin Pointer QC, representing Mrs Jones, told three judges at the Court of Appeal that Mr Jones sold his business, Dominion Technology Gases, for £32 million.

    But he had been 'less than frank' about the sale with his former wife and the court. The barrister said Mr Jones did not disclose details of the May, 2007 sale until June, a few months after the divorce, and continued to 'suppress the truth about the sale process'. He did give full details after a judge made an order for disclosure but then argued that the value of the company when they split up in 2006 was significantly less and that it was driven up after the marriage had broken down, said Mr Pointer. He said High Court judge Mr Justice Charles had been wrong to apportion 60 per cent of the sale proceeds to Mr Jones' pre-marriage 'endeavour'. Mr Pointer added: 'It is unsatisfactory and wrong for this to be based upon a judge's whim when it has not even been debated in argument.' Mrs Jones lives in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, in a house used during the marriage which is valued at £2.1 million.

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  • EX-WIFE WHO HELPED SQUANDER MILLIONS HAS DIVORCE SETTLEMENT CUT BY £1M
    mauricerobson

    HOW EVEN RICH MEN ARE BEING SCREWED BY GOLDDIGGING DIVORCE LAWS THAT ARE MADE UP BY DODGY CROOKED MASONIC JUDGES WORKING FOR THE CROWN AND LAW SOCIETIES.

    Ex-wife who helped millionaire husband squander their 'golden egg' has her settlement cut by £1m

    A spendthrift tycoon who had to sell his Grade II listed home to pay off his ex-wife has had his divorce settlement reduced by £1million – because a judge ruled she had been just as reckless with the family fortune as him. Maurice Robson sold his sprawling family estate to socialite Jemima Goldsmith for £15million after being told to pay his former wife Chloe £8million. He was said to have been heartbroken at losing Kiddington Hall, ‘a jewel in the heart of Oxfordshire’ which had been in his family for more than 60 years.

    But he received some small consolation yesterday when the figure he had to pay was cut to £7million to recognise that the horse-riding Mrs Robson too had played a part in frittering away the family wealth. Mr Robson, 66, who oversees a property and finance empire inherited from his father, said he had had ‘emotional difficulty’ selling the estate to pay for his divorce. The judge yesterday described Mrs Robson’s share as ‘half of the carcass of the golden goose’ squandered by the pair during their 24-year marriage. Mr Robson has amassed debts of more than £5million.

    He was described by a judge at a previous hearing as ‘a pathetic and a hopeless custodian’ of Kiddington Hall, which was once valued at £42million. He had inherited it from his father, Sir Laurence Robson, who founded Robson Rhodes & Co, one of the country’s leading accountancy firms until it merged with Grant Thornton in 2007. Mr Robson gave up his career as an accountant within five years of marrying ‘to concentrate on managing the estate – though some might say to live a life of leisure’, a judge at an earlier hearing observed.

    The Robsons ‘focused on their own enjoyment and sporting passions rather than on preserving their inheritance for their children and for future generations’, the judge said. Mr Robson’s spending on his sporting and motoring interests became increasingly ‘excessive, reckless and perhaps obsessive’, he added. Miss Goldsmith, 36, former wife of cricketer Imran Khan, is now the proud owner of the hall, which is part of a large estate comprising 39 houses and cottages including the village of Kiddington and several farms.

    The main house has nine bedrooms, five bathrooms, five reception rooms, an orangery and tennis courts. Dating from 1673, it sits in parkland designed by Capability Brown which boasts a wood and lake. Property experts estimate that with roof repairs, rewiring, new bathrooms and redecoration, it could fetch more than £20million if Miss Goldsmith wanted to sell. At a previous hearing, Mrs Robson had claimed she knew little of the debts her husband had amassed. But yesterday Mr Robson’s lawyer Tim Amos, QC, said the ex-wife, who devotes much of her time to horse-riding and competes in dressage, had been a ‘co-wastrel’.

    He argued that her £8million settlement was an ‘unfair windfall’ and asked the Appeal Court if Mr Robson could pay in instalments. Lord Justice Ward refused, saying Mr Robson’s past history of extravagant spending meant a ‘clean break’ divorce by payment of a lump sum was the right option. However, the total payout to 54-year-old Mrs Robson was reduced to £7million, with the judge ruling that the reduced sum would still leave her ‘well provided for’. The judge said that although he had ‘some sympathy’ with Mr Robson’s reluctance to sell the ‘magnificent property’, it was unavoidable that he and his wife should both ‘tighten their belts’. ‘They lived off the fruit of the land without properly husbanding it,’ the judge said. ‘The hall represented their lifestyle. The hall has gone.

    ‘They have by their mutually extravagant lifestyle killed the goose that was capable of laying the golden eggs had they fed her properly. ‘It is pure coincidence – and faintly ironic – that if the proceeds of the sale of the hall are about £14million, by a quirk of arithmetic a lump sum of £7million represents one half of the carcass of the golden goose that exemplified their way of life.’ Mr and Mrs Robson, who married in 1985, have a son aged 20 and a daughter of 17. As well as Kiddington and a Scottish estate, Mr Robson owns development land, has income from a South African investment company worth £160,000 a year, receives £170,000 a year as a Lloyd’s of London name, two pension funds worth £638,000, together with valuable paintings and antiques.

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  • CLASS ACTION AGAINST UK FAMILY COURTS FILED IN THE HAGUE
    CLASS ACTION BOUGHT BY FREEDOM, ADVOCACY & LAW

    The action was filed In the International Courts of Justice in the Hague against the Family Division Courts of the United Kingdom and the Local Authorities operating within the Statutory jurisdiction of same (England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland) . This Class Action concerns violations of International Human Rights, Law and local Statute and was filed by parents and other family members, for parents and extended families who have unjustly, unfairly, unlawfully lost contact with and/or care of their children for any reason, whether resulting from separation/divorce, or dealings with Children’s Services.

    The Isle of Wight Council and Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Courts are named in the action along with all Family Courts and Local Authorities in the UK. A spokesman for Freedom, Advocacy & Law on the Island said “Around two hundred and fifty families from around the UK including from the Isle of Wight and across the mainland have enjoined this unprecedented action so far, but the numbers enjoined to the rolling list rises daily and could reach into four figures by the time the case comes to be heard in the Hague.”

    He went on to say “This action covers both Public and Private law cases and is expected to send shock waves right through the legal and social care system and bring justice, accountability and reform into this very secret and unaccountable arena. Once the public see the extent of the abuses that go on under the veil of secrecy that is family law in the UK they will be shocked and we believe this action will now give many the courage to come forward for the first time. But we also have not just families but professionals coming forward who are just as appalled as we are, they are speaking to us and we welcome this, we respect and grateful to them for doing so! “

    The Island Spokesman, a retired Steward of the Isle of Wight LINk also said “Some of the Issues I tried to raise, as a member of the LINk, and also involve serious Adult Social Care Issues and as the elected and nominated LINk member of the Isle of Wight Councils Adult Social Care, Health and Housing Scrutiny Panel I was unfortunately undemocratically removed from the panel by some one in the Council but this action, will mean the Isle of Wight Council like every other one named will have to address matters rather than brushing them under the secrecy carpet, especially as the national media are reporting as well!” Freedom, Advocacy & Law who are advocates are not making any charge to the families involved and so far have 5,000kg of evidence to present to the court in the Hague regarding the cases involved which are from the inception of the Children’s Act 1989 which became law in 1991 and families can contact Freedom, Advocacy & Law via their website http://www.freedomlaw.co.uk/

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  • UK'S JUDICIAL MAFIA DECIDE ONLY A RICH FEMALE PRENUP IS VALID VIDEO
  • FULL SCREEN VERSION HERE
  • AFTER ONLY 28 DAYS OF MARRIAGE HOW A BILLIONAIRE WAS UTTERLY SHAFTED
    kirk kerkorian  Lisa Bonder LEFT: Kirk Kerkorian and ex-wife Lisa Bonder

    ONE OF THE MOST SHOCKING FAMILY COURT DECISIONS METTED OUT TO ANOTHER VICTIM OF ITS CORRUPTION.
    Despite being married to the investor for just 28 days, Ms Bonder had sought more than £200,000 a month in child support payments, as well as tens of millions from Mr Kerkorian's £2.1 billion fortune.


    Billionaire agrees to pay out £6m in child support - even though it's Liz Hurley's ex who is the father of the child. One of America's richest men has agreed to pay out £6million in backdated child support - even though he is not the biological father of the child.

    Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, 93, has also agreed to pay a further £66,000 a month to ex-wife Lisa Bonder for the next seven years until her daughter turns 19. Ms Bonder, 45, a former tennis professional who played at Wimbledon during the 1980s, gave birth to her daughter following an affair with film producer Stephen Bing, who is also the father of actress Liz Hurley's son. She was living with Mr Kerkorian at the time of the affair in the late 1990s. Despite being married to the investor for just 28 days, Ms Bonder had sought more than £200,000 a month in child support payments, as well as tens of millions from Mr Kerkorian's £2.1 billion fortune.

    A Los Angeles court ruling has now put an end to the eight-year long legal battle over custody payments. Mr Kerkorian, who had been paying £30,000 a month in child support, always insisted that he was not the biological father of Ms Bonder's child. In a bid to prove that Bing was the biological father of the girl, the billionaire hired a private eye who obtained a sample of Bing's DNA from a piece of discarded dental floss. Bing then sued for invasion of privacy and later settled out of court.

    This week's ruling also provides for Kerkorian to pay expenses including school costs, equestrian expenses, clothing, housing, travel, hobbies, automobile, food, beauty treatments, tutoring, entertainment, parties and pets. It is not the first time Bing, 45, has been involved in a paternity suit. He initially denied fathering Ms Hurley's son, Damien - now aged eight - claiming they were not in an 'exclusive relationship'. A 2002 DNA test proved otherwise.

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  • FATHER IN LANDMARK BID TO ACCESS DAUGHTER
    FAMILY COURT A FATHER denied access to his daughter by her mother has launched a legal bid which could have wide-ranging repercussions for family law in Scotland. The man from Glasgow, who is only referred to as 'K', has taken his case to the Supreme Court in London, after he was excluded from a Children's Hearing to decide his daughter's future.

    The Children's Hearing system, which is designed to settle cases of vulnerable or troubled youngsters in the interests of the child, does not generally recognise fathers who are neither married to nor living with the mother, as "relevant people". As only relevant people are able to take part in the hearing, 'K' was forced to stay silent while strangers decided his daughter's fate.

    He made his case to the Supreme Court on Wednesday and will receive a judgment in due course. Any decision made by the justices will not change Scottish law, but will clarify it and potentially cast it in new light. Al Gordon, of Al Gordon family lawyers, in Glasgow, who has been acting for K, said an estimated half of all fathers in Scotland are not married to their children's mothers and, although those who live together are recognised by the Children's Hearing system, if they separate they could find that they are not. He added: "This is a pretty big issue in Scotland. I have spent a lot of time in court discussing what is an act of discrimination against unmarried fathers. "My client has a proven track record of regular contact with his daughter. When his daughter was seriously ill, he was involved in medical discussions, yet a few years down the line he finds himself excluded from the Children's Hearing.

    "The Children's Hearing could make very serious decisions, such as whether he is entitled to any contact, and he has no way of challenging that. "Around half of fathers in Scotland are not married to their children's mothers, so this is potentially a very big issue. "I've had a few cases like this, although this is the first to reach the Supreme Court."

    There are cases where single, unmarried fathers are recognised as relevant people in the Children's Hearing system - when they have parental rights, which are either granted by the mother after the child is born, or through the courts. However, many parents do not think to take such steps as long as their relationship is amicable. "Many people have either not heard of that or don't think it is necessary," Mr Gordon said. Since 2006, fathers registered on the child's birth certificate are recognised as relevant people.

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  • DIVORCE LAWS SHOULD NOT BE MADE BY THE GROTESQUELY RICH
    katrin radmacher UK MASONIC JUDGES MAKE DIVORCE LAWS UP AS THEY GO ALONG ENSURING MEN ARE ALWAYS THE WORST OFF.

    The Radmacher-Granatino case has been great fun, but let's have a grown-up discussion about marriage Which is the best-ever, high, net-worth divorce? Until last week, the McCartney-Mills spectacle of 2008 would surely have topped the list of greats, on account of its cast, lunacy, water-throwing, tale-telling, costumery, incalculable wealth and that mutual loathing that is vital to a really gripping divorce hearing but not always so nakedly on display.

    But the ranking cannot be permanent and with last week's exit from the Supreme Court of Katrin Radmacher and her defeated ex-husband, Nicolas Granatino, it must be time for a rethink. Occasional evidence of vulnerability on both sides, and some charm on one, made the Mills-McCartney show a faintly guilty pleasure. But with each new detail, the Radmacher-Granatino debacle confirms that here are two people whose antics can be relished, thanks to their peerless ghastliness, wholeheartedly and without a trace of embarrassment. London, the divorce capital of the world, was the perfect setting for a greedy squabble between foreign-born millionaires that masqueraded as a dispute of highest principle.

    In terms of character, it was like reading the new Jonathan Franzen: hard to say which flawed individual excited less sympathy. Is clever Mr Granatino the more repellent of the two, with his determination to sponge off his wife despite a promise never to do so? One should not be taken in by his Sorrows of Young Werther oufit, featuring a tragic but surely unseasonal little comforter. Did not his ex once reveal that Mr Granatino had been the kind of spoiled husband who could not be satisfied with normal woollens? "It was always Loro Piana; cashmere, then baby cashmere, then vicuna in all colours." As if the blue tone-on-tone look he worked outside court was not evidence enough of that particular weakness. In contrast, Ms Radmacher's sensational post-hearing costume, a plunging zip-up white mini that set off her polished orange chest and bare legs, was presumably intended to be both sexy – as in ha-ha Mr Granatino look at me in all the papers – and to confirm her status as blamelessly virginal. In comparison, Heather Mills's choice of court-wear – a varicoloured trouser suit of her own, eccentric design – looked rather sweet. It is a further point in Heather's favour that, at least, she never claimed that her £24m win was a victory for little people. In a triumphant interview, Katrin Radmacher, still swanking around the moral high ground, celebrated her part in improving the lot of humbler English housewives. "It would be so much better to lay out at the start of a marriage what will happen if the wife gives up work," she told the London's Evening Standard's Anne McElvoy.

    Notwithstanding that one would rather take expert advice from Jessica Rabbit, Ms Radmacher's legal analysis is accurate. Pre-nups now have status in law, sort of, and it's all thanks to her refusal to give up around £2m of her £100m fortune. Some lawyers think that outcome is wrong. By upholding a decision of the appeal court, thus confirming the validity of a freely made prenup, an eight to one ruling by the Supreme Court has now pre-empted any decision on prenups by the Law Commission, which is contemplating the chaos that is English family law and, it is hoped, shortly to propose ways of reforming it. Of course it is an ancient tradition that English divorce law should be decided by cases brought by impossibly rich misers or their resentful spouses. It is another ancient tradition for the law never to be decided quite firmly enough that yet more rich misers and resentful spouses cannot challenge it in future, which ensures that lowlier divorcing couples can never receive clear advice from their lawyers. Thus Radmacher's sense of virtue as she departs, fortune intact, for her home in Monaco, via a recuperative holiday in Dubai, leaving us the indisputable gift of the prenup: "It is important to me that no one else should have to go through this."

    If divorce lawyers are not inconsolable about a future shortage of savage, high-end disputes, it is because they also predict following Radmacher an unending surge in demand for prenuptial agreements. Moreover, it will still be possible for prenups to be challenged by spouses who are wealthy enough to protest, in the courts, that their agreements were not, however it might have looked at the time, fair Apart from anything else, can a couple who are passionately in love be said to be of sound mind? At the time that the warring Radmacher-Granatinos plighted their troth, for instance, we have madam's assurance that: "I fell head over heels with him. I was madly in love and we married too quickly, before I had really got to know him." But perhaps she was not as mad as all that. The Supreme Court records her father's insistence that she sign a prenuptial agreement or forfeit her share of his colossal wealth. In effect, if Granatino, then a wealthy banker, did not complete before the marriage a document drawn up by his fiancee's family lawyer, his wife would be disinherited. That such a contract, worthy of anything in Jane Austen or, for that matter, a Tudor court, could hardly be described as neutral is just one objection to the Supreme Court having decided, on the basis of this notably unenlightened case, to validate pre-nuptial agreements. Lady Hale, dissenting from the majority verdict, argued that "the object of an ante-nuptial agreement is to deny the economically weaker spouse the provision to which she – it is usually although by no means invariably she – would otherwise be entitled". The Bishop of Blackburn has noted that a prenuptial agreement rather pointedly contradicts this line in the marriage service: "All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you."

    But the entitlements and sharing of a conventional marriage are precisely what impelled generations of rich dynasties to contract out, à la Radmacher, and now explain why more and more couples would rather cohabit. Divorce law now lags so far behind reality that, in an impressive House of Lords debate, Baroness Deech urged the government to reform legislation created in the age of dependent wives "to ensure that financial provision on divorce is determined on fair and settled principles". Until then, if the Radmacher precedent saves just a few spouses from archaic laws and modern lawyers at the same time that it propels ex-trophy wives into gainful employment, the eponymous divorcee probably deserves her triumph. If nervous couples are thereby nudged up the aisle, the Church of England might also find itself indebted to our orange-legged heroine. Even those who find it hard to imagine simultaneously vowing to share and not to share may be grateful for another lesson, hard-learned by la Radmacher: never trust a man with an unhealthy interest in knitwear.

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  • FATHER FIGHTING ABDUCTION OF HIS CHILD ANGRY OVER LOSING LEGAL AID
    THE SCOTTISH LEGAL AID BOARD IS CONTROLLED BY A HOMOSEXUAL WHO USES RENT BOYS AND REFUSES TO PROVIDE MEN WITH LEGAL AID IN DIVORCES, THOSE MEN LOSING THEIR ASSETS, HOMES AND ESPECIALLY THEIR CHILDREN. THE MOTHER IN THIS CASE IS AFRICAN AND WHO HAS NEVER PAID A PENNY IN TAXES, ABDUCTS THE CHILD FROM SCOTLAND TO ENGLAND WITH THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE LEGAL MAFIA ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER AND SHE ALSO GETS THOUSANDS OF POUNDS IN LEGAL AID FOR LAWYERS AND BARRISTERS. SHE ALSO GETS FULL BENEFITS, A COUNCIL HOUSE WHERE SHE CAN HIDE FROM HER EX-HUSBAND WHO HASN'T SEEN HIS CHILD FOR TEN YEARS. THIS IS THE OUTRAGEOUS SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS FOREIGN WOMEN TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER WHILE DESTROYING MEN FROM BRITAIN WHO HAVE WORKED ALL THEIR LIVES AND PAID THEIR FAIR SHARE IN TAXES.

    Dad has fought more than 10 years in the courts to regain daughter

    The Scottish and English legal establishments were under furious attack last night after an Aberdeen father lost legal aid support for his fight to regain a daughter abducted south of the border. The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has fought in the courts for more than a decade for her return despite the clear breach in the law involved in her removal and an “unjust” ruling by an English judge allowing her mother to keep her there. The Scottish Legal Aid Board’s own Civil Legal Assistance Office in Aberdeen is having to handle the appeal to the board’s Edinburgh headquarters against the removal of support because he cannot find a Scottish solicitor of his own to take on his case.

    The board ruled continuing aid was “unreasonable” because “the prospects of success are poor” because of the father’s own circumstances and the fact the child was removed “many years ago”. But the delay was caused by the courts themselves after judges failed to agree where his demand for an order returning his daughter should be tried following her unlawful removal. The Court of Session has ruled she should never have been taken out of the Scottish jurisdiction. The father bitterly attacked the board’s “outrageous” decision and vowed to fight on and, if necessary, take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

    Aberdeen North Labour MP Frank Doran, who has raised the case in the Commons, said: “This is a deeply distressing situation for a father whose child was removed from him with the assistance of police and social workers in Aberdeen who failed to make a proper investigation into the circumstances.” He said the father had pressed his case in the highest Scottish and English courts and the decision to remove legal aid was “unfair”. North-east SNP MSP Nigel Don said: “This is another injustice in a long saga suffered by this father seeking the return of his daughter.”

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  • Legal aid chief arrested with rent boy in shopping centre toilet
  • MORE LEGAL AID SCAMS HERE
  • THE ULTRA RICH WOMAN UK JUDGES BENT OVER BACKWARDS TO ACCOMMODATE
    katrin radmacher WOULD THEY HAVE BEEN SO QUICK IF THE BALL HAD BEEN ON THE OTHER FOOT? HOW WILL MEN FAIR WHEN THEY TRY TO GET A PRENUP ENFORCED? DIVORCE IS HOW A MASONIC JUDICIARY USE WOMEN AS A MEANS TO LEVER MENS ASSETS INTO THE HANDS OF A LEGAL MAFIA CONTROLLED BY THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND.

    The heiress at the centre of a landmark ruling on prenuptial contracts tells Anne McElvoy about her four-year legal nightmare' – and why she believes her victory will benefit women.

    Katrin Radmacher looks as quietly triumphant as is decent for a woman who has just won a groundbreaking case against her ex-husband. The phrase "a Radmacher" has entered the legal dictionary. Singlehandedly, the German heiress has changed the standing of pre-nuptial agreements in UK courts. It is, she says, the result of a "four-year nightmare". Her victory came yesterday in the austere setting of the Supreme Court in Parliament Square. The judges upheld the status of the pre-wedding agreement she had signed with her French husband Nicolas Granatino, declaring that neither would bring a financial claim if the marriage broke down. In her first press interview since the ruling, she is initially tense but visibly relieved. "It's been pretty hard," she says of her slog through the British courts - a journey that has cost both sides seven-figure sums in legal fees. She thinks her ex is a gold-digger - and that accounts for the bitterness at the heart of the case: "Looking back, I don't think he would have married me if I didn't have a penny." How does that feel? "Well I didn't see the truth at the time, but it is obviously very painful."

    Ms Radmacher, who is the daughter of a Cologne entrepreneur and has a fortune of about £100 million, met Mr Granatino - a suave French banker also from a wealthy family - on the dancefloor of Tramps nightclub in 1998. She married him a few months later: "I fell head over heels with him. I was madly in love and we married too quickly, before I had really got to know him." So why demand a pre-nup at all? "Well, my father wanted it, to protect his inheritance," she says. "And in both our home countries, France and Germany, it's quite normal. Nicolas didn't object." Mr Granatino, 38, has said that he didn't attend to the detail of the agreement, which was in German. Ms Radmacher, 40, insists it wasn't a lack of commitment that drove her to insist on the agreement: "I was the kind of girl who truly wants to be married just once: my parents had a thirty-eight-year marriage before my mother died. But things do go wrong and it is better to have a form of insurance. I don't think it's unromantic: just practical."

    Mr Granatino, she admits, had been a wonderfully attentive suitor. "He was very driven and hardworking and he made every effort to please me." What went wrong? Ms Radmacher says cagily: "His values, his outlook and way of life were completely different from mine." Was he faithful? "No, I don't think he was, but I didn't know that then. I think he cared a lot more about the money and that motivated him much more than it did me." Their relationship soured before 2003 when her husband gave up his job to become a £30,000-a-year biotechnology researcher at Oxford. They staggered on through marriage counselling but by 2006 it was over.

    The divorce case engaged some of the toughest legal names. "Steel magnolia" Fiona Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles and Paul McCartney in their divorces, acted for Granatino, Richard Todd acted for Radmacher. Mr Granatino claimed he had had no idea of his wife's wealth as her family had "shared bathrooms and no great art". Having claimed £10 million from her, he was awarded £5.85 million by a High Court judge, though the sum was cut to £1 million on appeal. He also gained a £2.5 million Knightsbridge house, to be returned to Ms Radmacher when the youngest of the couple's two daughters, who are eight and 11, is grown up. It's clear she feels she's been generous, though I doubt Granatino agrees. He could go to the European courts, though she doubts he will. What does she think motivated him to fight the pre-nup? "Greed," she says, "Some people can never have enough." A key point in the court fight was her husband's decision over his job. Was it the move of a man who no longer enjoyed the banking slog and wanted a new life - or a cynical calculation to reduce his income and rely on his wealthy wife?

    "Initially it was intended he'd do a doctorate to gain credibility in the area and do something in the City with bio-tech." But, she claims, Mr Granatino ended up as an "endless student" and she still doesn't know if he concluded the doctorate. "He's a very clever, able guy and he knows what he's doing," she says with chilly exactitude. It doesn't sound very amicable. "I'm fine with seeing him when we hand over the girls, but I wouldn't say we'll be best buddies." Given the family's concerns about an interloper inheriting their wealth, perhaps Granatino was right to say the Radmachers kept the full scale of their fortune from him? "Oh come on," Ms Radmacher says tetchily. "He knew about the family businesses - my father showed him round." Her father built a lucrative business in industrial paper, though the family spurned public life and lived quietly near Cologne. Ms Radmacher is one of Europe's richest women and admits she has moved to Monaco partly for tax reasons. "It's not just jet-setty," she insists. Then there's the skiing chalet in Verbier, the house provided in the south of France so Mr Granatino can visit the two girls, and the Knightsbridge house for when they visit London. She's taking the girls to Dubai next week to recover from the court ordeal. Ms Radmacher is as unselfconscious about all of this as only the truly wealthy can be, with the odd laugh about her own mistakes, like opening a boutique in Beauchamp Place that soon folded: "I wasn't exactly a rival to Jil Sander! Wrong idea, wrong place". I ask if she works: "Well I take care of my finances - and help my father a bit with decisions."

    You do wonder why she attached such importance to the pre-nup, but didn't prepare for the fact that UK courts haven't traditionally accepted them as binding. "Well I wasn't moving to Timbuktu!" she says. She was warned off pursuing her battle by several senior lawyers: "You still have the view that you shouldn't talk about things like pre-nups." She thinks the ruling will benefit women who give up a career to raise children, while their partner goes on to become a high earner: "It would be so much better to lay out at the start of a marriage what will happen if the wife gives up work."

    Yet why should the man not have a claim on his wife's fortune, as women have done on their wealthy exes? "I'm not against that," she counters, "but Nicholas wasn't a partner who'd sacrificed a career or worked in the home: he just did what he wanted to do anyway." She doesn't feel like a feminist, "but there's a lot of antagonism in these cases. If some women are spared it because of the outcome yesterday, well I'm very happy for that." And off she heads on the evening flight to Monaco, having changed the rules of the marriage game for ever.

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  • HOW DODGY JUDGES VIEW RICH WOMEN VERY DIFFERENTLY FROM MEN IN DIVORCE
    katrin radmacher ONCE AGAIN THE JUDICIARY (NOT A JURY) DECIDE ITS OK FOR A MEGA-RICH WOMAN TO USE A PRENUP TO AVOID PAYING AN EX-HUSBAND HALF OF WHAT SHE IS WORTH. BUT THEY STILL ALLOW WOMEN TO FLEECE MEN AND USUALLY THEIR LAWYERS GET MOST OF THE PROCEEDS

    An heiress won a multi-million-pound divorce battle against her former husband today, in a move that paves the way for pre-nuptial agreements to become a more common feature of marriage. Judges at Britain's highest court ruled 8-1 in favour of Katrin Radmacher, one of the richest women in Europe. She now has to pay only £1 million of her estimated £100 million fortune to Nicolas Granatino.

    The case was seen by lawyers as the ultimate test of whether the agreements are applicable in English law. Simon Bruce, Ms Radmacher's solicitor, said: “This decision means pre-nups are binding as long as they are fair. Everybody hopes their marriage will last a lifetime. From today we are allowed to prepare for the possibility that it might not be the case.” Ms Radmacher, a German paper heiress, added: “Nicolas and I made a promise to each other that if anything went wrong between us, both of us would walk away without making financial claims on each other. The promise made to me was broken. “I know some people think of pre-nuptial agreements as being unromantic, but for us it was meant to be a way of proving you are marrying only for love. It was a natural part of the marriage process. In my case, my father insisted upon it to protect my inheritance.

    “Sadly it has taken four years to have our agreement upheld in the British courts. I'm so relieved it's over.” The couple drew up a pre-nup before their marriage in London in 1998, which ended with their separation in October 2006. The agreement, signed in Germany, stated that neither husband nor wife would benefit from the property of the other in the event of a divorce. In a divorce settlement at the High Court, Mr Granatino was awarded £5.5 million, which would have given him £100,000 a year for life. But he fought the decision, claiming Ms Radmacher had failed to fully disclose her financial resources.

    The Court of Appeal ruled in Ms Radmacher's favour, and today judges at the Supreme Court agreed. In his ruling, Lord Phillips, President of the Court, said that in the right case pre-nups can have “decisive or compelling weight”. He said they should stand if they pass three key tests: the agreement should be entered into voluntarily by both parties; both parties should have the benefit of independent legal advice; and both sides should make full financial disclosure. However, the judge stopped short of stating pre-nups should be totally binding in law. He allowed the courts discretion to waive them, particularly if they seem to be unfair to children.

    The dissenting judge was Lady Hale, the only woman on the panel and a justice with a vast experience in the Family Division. She described the law as being “in a mess and right for systematic review and reform”. She called on the Law Commission to make detailed proposals for new legislation to be put before Parliament. In her written judgement she said the mere signing of a pre-nup should not be the priority in considering its legal enforcement, but rather whether it was fair or not. Forty-year-old Ms Radmacher first met her French former husband in a Mayfair club. In 2003, Mr Granatino, 38, gave up his lucrative job as a banker in the emerging markets sector to become a £30,000 a year biotechnology researcher at Oxford University.

    They have two children aged 10 and seven and spent most of their marriage in Chelsea. The couple had signed their pre-nup before a notary in Germany at the instigation of the wife, three months before the marriage. Mr Granatino had declined the chance to take independent advice before signing the document, and Ms Radmacher failed to fully disclose her financial resources.

    The High Court decision to grant Granatino £5.5 million in the divorce would have allowed him to buy a home in London where their children could visit him. That judge had taken into account the existence of the pre-nup but made it a low priority. His decision was overturned in the Court of Appeal and now has been confirmed at the Supreme Court.

    A way of protecting family fortunes

    Pre-nuptial agreements spell out — often in a fine degree of detail — exactly who will get what if a relationship breaks down. The spur to sign them often comes from the family of the wealthier member of the couple who fear that a “gold-digger” will end up with half the dynastic fortune in a generous divorce settlement. Most major London law firms would be able to offer a “pre-nup” with the bill typically in the £5,000 to £7,000 range. That could rise to tens of thousands of pounds, however, in the case of a billionaires with assets all over the world.

    Lawyers believe the Radmacher ruling could enhance even further the attractiveness of London as a place to live for the world's richest people as they will no longer fear vast payouts in the High Court if their marriage breaks down. Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, left, famously did not sign a pre-nup and she landed a £24.3 million settlement in their 2008 divorce.

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  • Pre-nuptial agreements will be taken up by middle classes, say lawyers
  • DIVORCE ROWS TO BE DEALT WITH OUTSIDE COURTS AS MEDIATION BECOMES COMPULSORY
    divorce MORE LEGAL MAFIA DISINFORMATION. DIVORCE IS SO LUCRATIVE FOR THE DIVORCE INDUSTRY THEY WILL NEVER STOP USING MASONIC RUN COURTS TO DESTROY MEN , THEIR ASSETS, HOMES AND CHILDREN. JUDICIAL MASONS WHO FABRICATE DIVORCE LAWS AND ENFORCE THEM, IS AN ENORMOUS RACKET FOR THE CORRUPT LEGAL MAFIA WHO DAILY, ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE DEATHS THROUGH SUICIDE AND MENTAL BREAKDOWNS WHILE USING 'OUR' COURTS TO INCREASE THEIR PROPERTY PORTFOLIO'S AND BANK ACCOUNTS. THE BRITISH CROWN UNDER QUEEN ELIZABETH, WHO HAND PICKS CROOKED JUDGES TO PRESIDE OVER THESE MONSTROUS JUDGEMENTS INSTEAD OF JURIES, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE DESTRUCTION THAN ALL THE TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE PUT TOGETHER.

    Thousands of feuds between divorcing couples will be dealt with outside the courts in an overhaul of the family justice system, it emerged last night. Instead of dragging cases through the courts for weeks, a Whitehall review of the system will recommend a massive reduction in the levels of lawyer interference in divorce cases. It will become compulsory for couples to try mediation before rushing into legal proceedings over disputes over children and money. The family court system is currently under ‘tremendous strain’, according to David Norgrove, who is chairing the review. Last year, the number of disputes heard in courts rose 16 per cent to about 137,000. On average, childcare cases last 56 weeks. Mr Norgrove said: ‘This is really intolerable for both children and parents — and damaging.’

    Under the proposals, which will be published in full early next year, as many cases as possible will be dealt with by mediation. More complicated disputes will be dealt with under a ‘courts-lite’ system of simpler, quicker and shorter hearings. Officials believe that the overhaul will save up to £100million in legal aid. Savings could also be made because there will be less of a need for multiple expert witnesses in drawn-out cases. Mr Norgrove said: ‘The family justice system as a whole we estimate to cost just over £1.6billion — much higher than anyone else has previously estimated. ‘There is a general sense that more cases can and should be devolved from the court-based process. ‘That is the case with 90 per cent of cases now, but 10 per cent is still a lot of cases.

    ‘At present, if you want to get divorced, you need a form and for that you need to know the number of the legislation involved. 'Most people don’t know that so they are pushed down the route towards lawyers.’ The changes will be ‘radical’ according to Sir Nicholas Wall, the most senior judge in England and Wales. Sir Nicholas recently criticised warring parents for putting their own interests before those of their children.

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  • Keep warring couples out of court with no-fault marriage break-up say divorce reformers
  • BID TO KEEP DIVORCES OUT OF COURT?
    More lies and bull as this is an enormous racket for the masonic legal mafia , a multi-billion dollar scam for governments and their legal lackeys consisting of crooked judges and lawyers.

    A shake-up of the divorce system could see couples urged to seek mediation rather than face a courtroom battle. The recommendation from the Family Justice Review is intended to cut the strain on the system, as an increasing number of parents become involved in legal wrangles over children and money. Family mediation is expected to save millions of pounds in legal aid, with more complicated cases dealt with in the courts, but in shorter and simpler hearings.

    David Norgrove, chairing the Whitehall review, said there was currently a "tremendous strain" on the system which was "really intolerable" for children and their parents. He told The Times: "The family justice system as a whole we estimate to cost just over £1.6 billion - much higher than anyone else has previously estimated. "There is a general sense that more cases can and should be devolved from the court-based process." About 137,000 such cases were dealt with last year, a rise of 16%, The Times said. A Ministry of Justice spokesman stressed that the review, due to publish its findings next year, was continuing. He said: "Family mediation can be quicker, cheaper, less stressful, and provide better outcomes than contested court proceedings. It is a voluntary and confidential process enabling people to explain their concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified family mediator.

    "This gives them the opportunity to communicate directly with each other, rather than via solicitors or across a courtroom. It is then they, rather than a judge, that decide an outcome that is mutually acceptable to them."

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  • PARLIAMENT SHOULD OVERTURN LAWS THAT LEFT DIVORCED HUSBANDS WITH NO RIGHTS
    One benefit reform that would make us happier... and richer

    There's only one lasting, simple welfare reform package this country needs. It goes like this. First, an announcement that nine months from today, all benefits of any kind for new unmarried mothers should cease. Note the word 'new'. Existing victims of one of the stupidest policies in human history should continue to get their handouts and subsidised homes until their children are grown. It is not their fault, or their children's, that they were misled by weak and wicked politicians into this way of life. They should not be condemned or harassed. But this state-sponsored assault on marriage should stop. Just to emphasise the point, we should once again distinguish between those who end up as lone parents through no choice of their own and those who choose this state.

    The ­Widow's Pension – scandalously abolished – should be reinstated. Deserted wives should likewise be offered proper ­support. Next, the disastrous divorce reforms of the Sixties, which have blasted the lives of millions of deserted children, should be replaced by new rules that make it rather harder to break up a marriage than to end a car-leasing agreement. And Parliament should overturn the disastrous judge-made laws which have, over the past 50 years, left divorced husbands with almost no rights at all. Within ten years we should be a happier, more orderly and peaceful society, and a much richer one too.

    Depriving children of fathers, which seems to have been the policy of the so-called 'centre-left' and 'centre-right' for 40 years, has had a grim and painful effect on almost every aspect of our lives – and has affected almost every topic I touch on in this column. The costs of trying to patch up the damage are immense, in grief and money. It is as if the whole country has been banging its head hard against a concrete wall for decades. It would be wonderful to stop, as well as being rational and kind. But of course it will not happen. For all three parties have been taken over by Sixties liberals, who will never do this. Which is why no message of hope came out of the Tory Conference last week, and why the Prime Minister was reduced to attacks on a dead-and-­buried Labour Government, and to flogging his gassy, thought-free 'Big Society', under which we're all supposed to come home from work and the long commute, and then rush out to hold up the sky.

    What was really wrong with the Tory Party's amateur dramatics was not the incompetence, though there was plenty of that; nor the dismissive callousness towards mothers who take the responsible decision to bring up their own children; nor the impracticable promises to 'clamp down' on a welfare system that is specifically designed to create more clients every day and will grow inexor­ably if this does not stop. It was that it has turned its back forever on the married family (while tossing footling token gestures in its direction). And it has sold its soul – and the conservative people in this country – in return for the approval of the BBC and for the empty, pompous joys of office without power. No wonder there were so few conservatives there, and no wonder Tory Party membership is shrivelling so quickly that the figures are a secret.

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  • I POSED AS RICH AMERICAN PLAYBOY TO TRICK MY EX WIFE INTO HANDING OVER MY SON
    sean felton A father posed as a rich American playboy on Facebook to trick his wife into handing over their son after she fled overseas with him.

    Sean Felton used the social networking site to carry out his ploy then flew 6,000 miles to Thailand, where his wife had bolted with their three-year-old six months earlier. The 43-year-old set up a false account, pretending to be a mega-rich Ferrari-owning American, under the alias Matt Young and contacted her via the site. His duped Thai wife Saowapak - also known as Kim - fell for his attention and accepted him as a Facebook friend.

    The plot led to an emotional confrontation and little Jobe being handed back to his dad to take back home to Norton Canes in Cannock, Staffs. Mr Felton's nightmare ordeal started on March 26 this year when Saowapak 'Kim' Felton, 30, took Jobe to Thailand. He said: 'I came back from work to our home and she and Jobe weren't there. All her clothes were still at our home and Jobe's - everything looked normal.' The distraught dad thought he would never see his son again as the snatch happened in England and the Thai police were powerless to act. 'We got in touch with everyone, the Commonwealth Office, the British Embassy, the local MP - everyone was involved but couldn't do anything,' he added. Mr Felton hired a private investigator to look for his wife and son, who thought he had a lead before finding a boarded up house.

    He was on the verge of giving up until one restless night he decided to look for her on Facebook. After a frantic search, he was surprised to see her listed among a long list of other Saowapaks. 'I typed in Saowapak and looked through the names, she had a different surname, but it was her.

    'I just couldn't sleep that night and so I set a false account up, found a pic on Google and requested to be friends', Mr Felton said. Once he had access to her profile, he launched a parallel plan to make contact with some of Saowapak's Facebook friends he had seen in a photograph with her. He requested to be friends with two French men, who he hoped would provide him with the information he desperately needed.

    To Mr Felton's relief, the men emailed him back with his wife's address at a remote village in Chiang Rai. The self-employed painter and decorator then hired a special solicitor who went with him to the High Court to get legal custody. Mr Felton won full custody of his son but was anxious this would stand for nothing when he arrived in Thailand.

    On arrival in the country, his journey took a new and unusual path when he befriended some anti-government protesters. 'I ended up chatting to some 'red shirts' and decided to tell them the story. They then helped me get all the legal documents I needed in Thailand.' Police drove him to the remote village and that was when Mr Felton laid eyes on the 'hut on stilts'.

    He said: 'I went up the steps and I opened the door to the room and he was just there in the room on his own sitting by a wall, and then it all went a bit emotional. 'Jobe had had all his hair cut off and had chipped teeth, but was otherwise a healthy young boy.' His parents travelled to a hotel where Kim spent some time with her son as she began to accept he would be returning to England with his dad.

    Mr Felton then went to the British Embassy and once they were satisfied with the paperwork, father and son boarded a plane and headed home on September 21. Mr Felton met his wife in August 2005 while he was on holiday in Thailand. After visiting each other and marrying in a Buddhist temple, the couple set up home together in Cannock, Staffs, before their marriage began to break down. 'It's been absolutely mad. My feet haven't touched the ground since. It's hard work because he doesn't speak English and he's been a bit sick because he isn't used to English food.

    'The first night we got back at about 10.30pm and he ran upstairs to get all his toys - he remembered where they all were. 'The other night I was looking at him and I couldn't believe he was there.'

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  • DAD OF 23 CHILDREN IN USA JAILED FOR NOT PAYING CHILD SUPPORT
    howard veal BRITISH MASS MEDIA ON THE WAR PATH AGAINST SEPARATED FATHERS USING THE EXTREME ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM. THEY DID AWAY WITH DEBTORS JAIL IN THE MIDDLE AGES BUT HAVE RESTORED IT IN AMERICA FOR FATHERS WHO WONT PAY FOR CHILDREN THEY NEVER SEE.

    They are both the feckless fathers of a legion of children by many different women.

    In Britain, Keith Macdonald is a jobless 25-year-old who has produced up to 15 children by 14 mothers, costing the taxpayer at least £1.5million in benefits. In America, Howard Veal has fathered 23 children by 14 women, and owes an astonishing $533,000 – that’s £337,000 – in child support payments. But while their shameless lifestyles may be equally unappealing, there is one thing that separates them.

    As Macdonald continues to live an easy, workless life in Britain, his American counterpart is beginning a four-year prison sentence for failing to support his offspring. In an impassioned outburst unlikely to be heard from a British judge, Veal was told he was an ‘insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children’ by Michigan judge Denis Lieber. Branding 44-year-old Veal a ‘poster child for irresponsibility’, Judge Lieber added: ‘Animals procreate, human beings are supposed to nurture their children. When you create a human being, I think you have a fundamental responsibility to provide for that child with necessities like food, clothing and shelter.’

    The judge was so appalled that he far exceeded the sentencing guidelines, which called for Veal, from Muskegon, Michigan, to receive no more than six months in the county jail. In Britain, Macdonald has eight children with another two on the way, all by different mothers. Since his story emerged last week, however, other women have come forward to claim he has up to 15 children. He receives incapacity benefit for a bad back of up to £68.95 plus £44 a week for income support. He rarely works and contributes just £5 a week to support each child.

    Unlike Veal, he has not been pursued for missing his child support payments. But their cases are very similar in other respects. Like Macdonald, Veal has barely worked over the years, instead choosing to live largely on benefits. When he had a job for a few months last year, some money was taken from his wage to pay for his children, but it barely made a dent in what he owed. His jailing followed a guilty plea he made in July to owing Sherri Black, the mother of two of his children, more than $60,000 (£38,000) in child support.

    In seven years, Veal had paid just $87.75 (£55) for the two children, now aged 16 and 11. Like Macdonald, Veal told the court he was contributing money from his unemployment benefit and had never refused to pay. However, Mitchell Wood, Michigan’s assistant attorney general, had recommended that Veal’s behaviour justified a jail sentence because he was unlikely ever to make substantial inroads into what he owes, especially as there remain 14 outstanding cases against him.

    In Britain, parents who refuse to pay can be jailed for up to six weeks, although they can get out as soon as they hand over the money. The Child Support Agency, which stresses that the measure is a ‘last resort’, says that between November 2008 and October 2009, 800 offenders were given immediate or suspended prison sentences. The CSA – which does not need to receive a complaint over non-payment to take action – can also confiscate the non-payer’s cars and motorbikes, take away his driving licence and remove money directly from his bank account.

    However, the agency has been dogged by complaints about long delays, errors and failing to take action against offenders. In 2006, the National Audit Office found that the CSA was spending 70p collecting every £1 of child maintenance from absent parents. A House of Commons report last year warned that the cases of 275,000 parents waiting for child maintenance remain stuck in the CSA’s inadequate computer system.

    Next year, responsibility for collecting child support will be transferred to the new Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission. In the U.S., parents face fines and property confiscation and can even have their passport withheld along with their driving licence. They can also be jailed for up to six months, although – as in Veal’s case – this is only a guideline.

    Critics of the U.S. system say jailing non-payers only adds to the state’s burden. Sherri Black agreed, saying: ‘I’m pleased he’s been jailed but I’d rather have him pay the money. Now my taxes will go to support him in prison.’ Last night Norman Wells, of Family and Youth Concern, said: ‘Whether or not a prison sentence is the most appropriate sanction, there can be little doubt that we are far too complacent about feckless fathers in the UK. ‘We need to send out a clear message that fathers are far more than sperm donors and make them take proper responsibility for the children they have a part in bringing into the world.’

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  • CHILDHOOD CASUALTIES OF FAMILY COURTS
    cross Fathers still have the odds stacked against them when it comes to custody battles in the family court system, but are warring parents forgetting what and who they are fighting for?

    When Paul returned home from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, he found his key no longer fitted his front door. "My wife had changed the locks on the house I was paying the mortgage on, and my kids were inside with her new bloke," he said. "I can't tell you what I felt, trying to make sense of it all. It was a bad dream. She had a lawyer lined up to talk about money and they seemed stunned when I said I wanted contact. "I had kids because I wanted to be a dad. I am a dad, not a sperm donor."

    His little boys were then aged three and 18 months. He hasn't seen them for almost two years and struggles on with his legal battle. In the past, public sympathy may well have rested with the court, assuming it was doing its best for the children. But now there is growing evidence that family law has spectacularly failed to keep up with the changing role of men within the home and that children are suffering as a result. Judges are accused of stereotyping, making a legal presumption in favour of the mother and awarding meagre access rights to dads. With the maturing of the "men's movement" into more child-centred lobbying and support groups, and with rising numbers of divorce lawyers moving into mediation work and away from adversarial courtrooms, there is a growing understanding of the raw deal many fathers – and children – have been getting from the secretive British family court system.

    This week, the consultation period will close on the family justice review, commissioned in part because of money (the present legal system costs the state more than £800m a year), but also intended to make the process quicker, simpler and fairer. "Fathers and grandfathers regularly tell us that they do not feel well served by the current system," admits the Ministry of Justice in its introduction to the review, which will be heard by a panel of experts and chaired by pensions watchdog David Norgrove. Final recommendations are due by autumn 2011. Many professionals, including Resolution, a collective of almost 6,000 lawyers across the country who are committed to nonconfrontational divorce, hope it will usher into law the concept of shared parenting, and back mediation, not courtrooms, as the place to settle disputes over children.

    It was in a speech to Families Need Fathers last Sunday that Sir Nicholas Wall, president of the family division of the high court and Britain's most senior family judge, warned that parents harm children by using them as "the battlefield, the ammunition" during divorce proceedings. Families Need Fathers is at the forefront of a shift in tone in fathers' rights – away from the notorious stunts of Fathers 4 Justice, which involved grown men dressed as superheroes unfurling banners on public monuments, towards a professional lobbying approach, deploying reasoned argument and concern for the child. A measure of its mainstream status is that David Blunkett and novelist Louis de Bernières are among the group's patrons.

    "He [Wall] was bang on the button," said Liz Edwards, vice-chair of Resolution, who as well as being a family lawyer is a trained mediator who favours a "round the kitchen table" approach for couples who are splitting up. "We find you can stop the process becoming a huge conflict if you give people information," she said. "They won't even talk about custody and courts. They will be focusing on the children. Mediation can take the heat out of a time when people are in a lot of pain, make people see they need to focus on the child. "A lot of people cannot afford to litigate over children and end up having to sort things out all by themselves and do it well. Very wealthy people who have nothing to lose financially go through all their issues in the courts. "Ultimately, it's the children who will look at their parents and the job they did and they can be very critical. Parents have to realise that what they are doing at this point may well decide their future relationship with their children."

    She said it was impossible to ignore the part that fathers' pressure groups had played in highlighting issues previously hidden behind the secretive doors of the family courts. "Fathers being more involved has brought new problems. Some children now have to live with parental conflict, instead of living with the sense of rejection that came when the father walked away. "We have to decide what we want for our children. Mediation is not about rights as much as responsibilities to the children. It's asking people, 'can you put your children first?' "

    The government estimates that one in four children has separated or divorced parents. Despite all the evidence that children thrive best when they enjoy the support and love of two parents, only about 11% of children from broken homes will go on to spend equal amounts of time with each parent. A significant number of fathers, some estimate as many as 40%, will within two years of the split lose all contact with their children. Previously this had been seen as a sign of male fecklessness, but now it is also being recognised that dads are being pushed away, not only by the residual conflict with ex-partners, but also by a legal system that works against them maintaining relationships with their children. "A lot of our members are not men with great careers but ordinary men who go out to work in order to bring home money for their families. When they lose that family, everything breaks down for them. We have had five suicides so far this year," said Mike Kelly, spokesman for Real Fathers For Justice, distinct from Fathers 4 Justice.

    "It was seen as comical and that wasn't the message we wanted out there. Fathers and grandparents were suffering. It had been an in-your-face campaign, but it was time to move on and reflect the seriousness of the issue that was seeing us getting suicidal phone calls from fathers in a spiral of depression that they couldn't see a way out of." At the time, he says, "there was no political will to stop the gravy train running", but the group had helped to shine a "public light" into the family courts. "But we can't take credit until change has happened, and judges are vastly behind the times and parents are being forced in front of them like criminals. All they've done is fall out of love. One isn't guilty and the other innocent." Ian Julian, 49, is one of the tiny percentage of fathers in the UK to have won a shared residency court order for his son, now aged 16. But that was pared away into alternate weekends when his ex-wife sent their son to boarding school against Julian's wishes. He has had to move four times to follow the house moves of his former wife.

    "When I first went to a lawyer, she told me I had no chance of anything, but I was prepared to go to 100 lawyers to find one who would take my case," he said. Julian now works as a "McKenzie friend", someone who gives moral support in court to a litigant who can't afford legal representation, and is a trustee of Families Need Fathers. "I've heard a judge call a man 'possessive' for wanting more than two hours a week, and others make 'no contact' orders on hearsay evidence," he said. "I've known mothers taken back to court for ignoring contact orders, but nothing is done. Bad behaviour isn't just tolerated, it's encouraged. Some of the judges I have sat in front of have traditional values along the lines of a woman's place being in the home. But it's not the experience of the average British family and a father seeing a child once every two weeks isn't a meaningful relationship."

    For modern fathers, expecting and expected to be far more involved with childcare than perhaps their own fathers were, it can come as an enormous shock when they hit a legal system running on a whole different set of presumptions. "One weekend in a fortnight is what's commonly awarded and it's not a meaningful time," said Adrienne Burgess, director of research at the Fatherhood Institute. "It allows fathers to drift out of their children's lives. If we want to keep men in children's lives we might have to work a lot harder. High-quality relationships with their mother and their father is what is successful for children after separation. Having one without the other doesn't help them much." But Burgess makes the point that shared parenting requires more than just more enlightened judges. "It's interesting that in the past 30 years, men's involvement with their children has gone up 800-fold, but there are fewer father-headed lone-parent families than ever as it's overwhelmingly mums who get the children.

    "The courts may prioritise mothers to a ridiculous extent, but it's also going to be hard for us women to give up. True shared parenting means not getting your own way, which is tough. When the child might not run to you first at the school gate, that's hard," said Burgess. Without doubt the present system seems to be serving no one very well and certainly not men like Paul. He received an up-to-date photograph of his children a few months ago, posted anonymously. "I'd like to think it was my wife," he said. "She knows we both love them like nobody else ever can."

    HIGH-PROFILE COMBATANTS IN THE CUSTODY WARS

    Sir Bob Geldof who had a protracted custody battle with his ex-wife, the late Paula Yates "There's this emptiness, this utter loneliness, and you ask, What have I done? Why has this happened? The despair of going to the door that was your home, the door to this thing that locked away the crap of the world and having to knock and hearing their laughter inside... And this life that was yours a week ago. That is their home, your home, this is your family, and now you have to knock and ask can you come in. And when you're with your children, it's not like, 'Great, I've got three hours with my children', it's 'There's a second gone, there's another second gone' – and all the time it's the going, it's not the being-with. This is the thing that destroys people."

    Author Louis de Bernières after his partner Cathy Gill left taking the couple's two children, Robin, five, and Sophie, two "It was really dreadful. The worst thing, practically, was finding the house so quiet because it was always so full of laughter and rampaging and stampeding. The emotional desolation is hard to describe. There were many times when I felt suicidal."

    Writer Tim Lott

    "Parting from my wife, Sarina, and children Ruby and Cissy in 1999, left me with too many agonising memories to count. The lonely weekends in the parks alone with other sad single dads. The lies I told my children in order to reassure them – 'Isn't it wonderful – you're going to have two homes instead of just one'. The memory that sticks in my mind is of Ruby, then seven years old, running after my car screaming for me to come back after my designated weekend was over. That image – of her running down the street after me, as I stared at her diminishing image in my rear-view mirror – still replays in my head."

    Writer William Leith, who is now back with his partner

    "I remember the weekends. Going to pick my son up on a Saturday morning. I remember walking down the drive of the house where my son lived, where my ex lived, where I had lived. The anxious moments on the doorstep. The sudden, terrifying thought that I might have come at the wrong time, or on the wrong day. "My son! There was always a rush of emotion, a balloon expanding in my chest. As a father, when you are separated from your child, you feel vulnerable, even if you see him a lot. It's the separation. It's the sense of not belonging. "You stand on the doorstep, and you hear your son's voice, and you feel two things, the tremendous rush of love for your son existing inside the hollow pang of separation."

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  • HOW MASONS TREAT MOTHERS AS THEY OFTEN DO FATHERS IN CUSTODY BATTLES
    mother child The father in this case was previously a social worker now a lawyer and will almost definitely be part of the masonic network in how the mother was sectioned, a common nasty practice used when victims are resistant to the bullying tactics of masons controlling the courts, social work and child theft.

    Why do the police provide the muscle for forced adoptions?
    Police are strangely compliant helpers when social workers arrive to remove children from their mothers.

    There have been developments in the shocking story I reported last week of the south London mother who for nine days had been incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital so that her two children could be handed over by social workers to her estranged husband. Although they are not divorced, she parted from him some years ago because she thought his promiscuous lifestyle was incompatible with bringing up two young girls.

    This bizarre episode began when six policemen, three psychiatric workers and three social workers arrived outside her home, threatening to beat down the door. Inside the house. the mother and her children, aged nine and 11, were terrified, Having sectioned the mother under the Mental Health Act, they removed her to the hospital and handed the children to their father, now a solicitor but formerly himself a social worker, It seemed the accusation against the mother, initiating in letters of complaint she had written about various public authorities after the death of her oldest daughter in a well-known London hosital, was that she was suffering from a ' persecution complex'. When a consultant psychiatrist interviewed her in the hospital, he apparently found her replies so sane that he said ' I'll have to ask the social workers what's wrong with you'.

    Last week the mother asked to appear before a tribunal, which met on Wednesday. Its three members, including a doctor and a solicitor, heard evidence from the psychiatrist, who now seemed to have completely changed his tune, explaining why he thought she was, as the social workers alleged, â delusional'. The tribunal, having heard her own version of the story, found his evidence wholly unconvincing and ordered her release, because nothing was wrong with her, She assumed she would now be able to reclaim her children, but her husband repeatedly put off any meeting, On Thursday, she received anguished calls from her girls on their mobile, begging to be allowed to come home, When later in the day she arrived at their school to pick them up, they flung themselves into her arms, Then her husband arrived and they got into his car, imagining they would be able to return home with their mother. But he drove off with them, saying later that the mother could meet him the following day in the presence of social workers.

    Early on Friday morning she reported that the police were again beating on her door. She had also learned that her children's mobiles had been confiscated, Distraught she managed to contact a solicitor. Later in the day, to her astonishment, she was rung by a social worker to say that arrrangements would be made for the girls to be returned to her, At time of going to press, it therefore seems this murky tale may have a happy ending. But it still raises very serious questions, not least the part played by the police.

    In several other stories I have reported recently involving the seizure of children by social workers, the police seem to have played an extraordinarily compliant role, as in the case where six policemen and three social workers burst into a hospital ward at 3 am to wrest a new-born baby from its mother's arms with considerable force.

    Why is that the police seem so ready to act on the instructions of social workers, turning up mob-handed and prepared, as in several cases I have reported, to act with what seems wholly unnecessary aggression against defenceless, loving mothers? Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Commissioner, said last week that ' providing cover for social workers and other agencies' had taken the police ' away from their core responsibilities'. As I continue to follow the horrifying disarray of our family protection system, the peculiar part played in it by the police is a theme to which I shall return.

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  • SEPARATED FATHER HOUNDED FOR CHILD MAINTENANCE OF £86,000
    stephens oil MORE than a month after company boss Stephen Meredith was fined after failing to comply with a legal order to deduct more than £85,000 outstanding child maintenance from his wages, the money remains unpaid. And now his ex-wife and mother of his two sons, Christina Bond, has spoken out about her struggle to bring up their children on the minimum wage while her ex-husband made his money – a claim Mr Meredith denies.

    It was Mr Meredith’s company, Stephens Oil Ltd, which was convicted at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court in one of the Child Support Agency’s (CSA) largest-ever debts to go to court. The court was told that Mr Meredith is the sole director of the company and had not paid any money to the agency since the case was opened in 2002. It was heard he is being pursued for £86,066 by the CSA’s civil enforcement team and his own company had been ordered to deduct the money from his wages two years ago. His former wife Christina, 48, who was married to Mr Meredith for 16 years before they split 14 years ago, said: “When we divorced, our youngest son Scott was five and our eldest Robert was 14, but their father never paid any maintenance for them.”

    Christina, who lives in Twynyrodyn with her partner Colin Neagle, 51, claims their sons used to visit their father when they first divorced, but the visits soon stopped. She said: “He is now disputing the amount because I have allowed Scott to stay over at his Nan’s house. Stephen’s parents have been fantastic over the years and I can’t fault them, but that’s not the same thing as the boys staying at his house.” Christina, who now works at the Premier Inn Hotel in Pentrebach, added: “I have taken dead-end jobs over the years because I had to make sure the boys were clothed and fed, and I had to put Robert through university.

    “I have struggled and he has done very well for himself. It’s back when the boys were young that we could have done with the money. Now it’s more a matter of principle.” Mr Meredith’s firm had been ordered to deduct the debt from his wages in 2008, and as sole director he appeared in court to be convicted of failing to implement the deduction from earnings order, which is a breach of the Child Support Act. His firm was issued with a compensation order for £4,578.21, fined £375 and ordered to pay £200 in costs.

    But Mr Meredith, 48, of Brooklands Close, Merthyr Tydfil, said he will continue to contest the decision made by the CSA because he believes they are in the wrong. He said: “I have no idea how the CSA arrived at this ridiculous figure. My failure to comply with the order was due to the fact that my eldest son had lived with me full-time, and my younger son Scott lived with my family the majority of the time – more and more as he got older. “The truth is that the kids have been with us over the years, and I’m not paying twice.” A spokesperson for the CSA said there are many ways they can pull in arrears such as seizing assets and taking money directly from bank accounts. They said: “Some parents go to great lengths to avoid meeting financial responsibilities for their children, but we do not give up on cases.”

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  • DIVORCE LEAVES FATHERS ON THE EDGE OF A BLOODY GREAT ABYSS
    broken man Divorce 'leaves many fathers on the edge of a bloody great abyss. Many fall off and are never seen again'. 'How can my wife hurt me? How could she bring me to my knees?' he asks. 'Through my children.'

    THE CRUELTY OF WOMEN WHO USE CHILDREN AS WEAPONS IN DIVORCE

    About ten years ago, I was standing in my son's junior school classroom. The teacher had stuck up on the wall the best essays on the topic: 'How I Spent Last Weekend.' One caught my attention. Not for this little boy a visit to the zoo or the excitement of a football game. Instead, he had chronicled a weekend's battle between his divorcing parents. 'Mum calls dad names on the phone,' he had written in his laborious handwriting. 'We had cake for tea. My sister and I cry.' The teacher caught my eye. She had put up that story on purpose.

    'I want the parents to see what divorce they are doing to their children. They should be ashamed of themselves,' she said. My son recently bumped into that little boy. A decade on, he is 18, has dropped out of school and is on drugs. Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division of the High Court, agrees that something has to be done. He has accused separating couples, especially those from the middle classes, of using their children as 'both the battlefield and the ammunition' to try to score points in their personal disputes.

    'There is nothing worse, for most children, than for their parents to denigrate each other,' said the country's most senior family court judge. 'The child's sense of self-worth can be irredeemably damaged.' Six years ago, my husband and I divorced. It came as a great shock. But we were all too aware our children were just becoming adolescents - and that adolescence is perilous enough without warring parents. We tried, not always successfully on my part, never to criticise each other in front of the children. Very occasionally, I even managed to emphasise his good points (of which there are many) - it was quite hard when at the time all I wanted to do was murder him.

    A female friend was shocked. 'Why aren't you using the children against him?' she asked. 'I would.' Her reaction is not unusual. The battlefields Sir Nicholas Wall describes are too often of the wife's choosing. This is because most divorces are initiated by women due to their husband's infidelity, as the fatherhood research body Fathers Direct points out. These women are hurt and they want to get their own back through the children, money or both. They are determined the husband is as much divorced from his children as his wife.

    One wealthy man I know finds himself, despite his riches, at the beck and call of his former wife. The strategy is very successful. This otherwise powerful man submits to every capricious demand. 'With just two hours' notice, I had to cancel an important meeting and take them to the dentist,' he said. If he refused, his wife said, he would not see them for a month.

    An advertising director found himself equally powerless when his wife suddenly moved from London to the Midlands with their two sons. 'How can my wife hurt me? How could she bring me to my knees?' he asks. 'Through my children.' 'She did not tell me. One day she just stopped answering the phone. Until then I had been seeing my sons every weekend,' he says.

    By the time the case reached court, the sons were settled in a new school. The judge admitted that what the woman had done was illegal, but because it was in the best interests of the children to be with their mother, he did nothing. 'She had got away with effectively kidnapping my children,' said the father. His relationship with his sons has all but broken down. Their new home is too far for them to come to London. When he goes to see them, he has to stay in a hotel. 'The children get bored in an hour or two,' he says. 'They have their friends and their sports, which they would rather do instead.'

    He tells me he finds the situation 'so goddamn painful. I try to play the role of a father - but how can I when I have been deliberately moved to the periphery of their lives?' The situation leaves many men I have interviewed distraught. They describe the loss of their children as 'an emotional amputation' or 'a living bereavement'. It is no wonder that within two years of divorce, half of fathers lose contact with their children.

    As one man said sadly, divorce 'leaves many fathers on the edge of a bloody great abyss. Many fall off and are never seen again'. Douglas Alexiou, one of London's pre-eminent family lawyers, agrees that the wife holds all the cards in a divorce case. 'Court order after court order is served. The wife claims the children are ill or just do not want to see their father,' he says.

    'There is very little a court can do if a mother has poisoned the minds of her children against the father. There is no sanction against the mother apart from a jail term - and no court will do that. 'Perhaps one day a judge will be bold enough to jail a mother and finally set an example.' In all this there is only one real victim - the children. If one of those wives was handed an axe and ordered to hack off a limb of her child, she would be appalled. Yet so many women are happy, even gleeful, to commit the equivalent emotional amputation on their children by depriving them of their father.

    U.S. author Kathleen Parker in her excellent book Save The Males points out that in depriving a child of their father, 'we reduce a child's chance of a successful and happy life. 'Growing up without a father is the most reliable indicator of poverty and all the familiar social pathologies affecting children, including drug abuse, truancy, delinquency and sexual promiscuity.' But this misery is not only the fault of the parents. The family court system is adversarial and encourages couples to fight, says Nadine O'Connor, campaign manager at the lobby group Fathers4Justice.

    And change, she says, will be a long time in coming - until lawyers stop making their own killing from warring parents, children will continue to be used as weapons.

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  • HYPOCRITICAL JUDGE SLAMS DIVORCING PARENTS
  • Well-off parents use children as weapons in divorce, says judge
  • HYPOCRITICAL JUDGE SLAMS DIVORCING PARENTS
    nicholas wall THE ABSOLUTE ARROGANCE OF THE UK'S JUDICIARY BLAMING PARENTS WHEN CROOKED LAWYERS AND JUDGES THIEVE THE FAMILY SILVER DIVERTED, WHILE PARENTS ARE FIGHTING OVER THE CHILDREN, BY THE LEGAL MAFIA.

    Children are routinely used as “the battlefield and ammunition” for well-educated parents to wage legal war after separation, England's most senior family court judge said. Sir Nicholas Wall said separating parents “rarely behave reasonably” and a less adversarial system was needed.
    In a speech , Sir Nicholas said: “My experience is that the more intelligent the parent, the more intractable the dispute.” He added: “Parents simply do not realise the damage they do to their children by the battles they wage.”
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  • Well-off parents use children as weapons in divorce, says judge
  • WOMAN AFRAID OF HOSPITALS FORCED TO HAVE CANCER OP
  • HELLISH DESCENT OF DIVORCE LAWYER SHOT DEAD BY COPS IN ARMED SIEGE
    mark saunders Our views on divorce lawyers are expressed throughout this website . A lesson for the many others that are destroying men's lives in family courts. Evil eventually catches up with those who abuse our fellow men. Some questions arise over two arms of the divorce industry the cops and lawyers shooting at each other.

    Binge drinking, cocaine and escort agencies: Hellish descent of barrister shot dead by police after armed siege

    A barrister shot dead by police in an armed siege had descended into a drunken hell of binge drinking and cocaine abuse, it emerged yesterday. Mark Saunders, 32, died in a volley of bullets fired by police marksmen who surrounded his £2.2million Chelsea home after he started blasting out of a kitchen window with a shotgun.

    His inquest today heard how he had fought a desperate battle with alcoholism, disapperaring on massive binges every three months before returning home at 2am full of remorse and shame. His wife Elizabeth desribed how he started drinking at the age of 13 and by 2004 he was consuming the equivalent of four bottles of spirits a week. In the hours before his death Mr Saunders had been on a drinking binge, called a number of escort agenices and appeared to be high on drugs, after taking cocaine days earlier.

    Westminster Coroners Court heard how moments before he started shooting neighbouring properties, the high-flying lawyer told a taxi driver: ‘I’m going to die’. The Oxford-educated barrister sent his best friend and the best man at his wedding, Alex Booth a text message saying: ‘This is the end my only friend. The end. X’- a lyric by the The Doors from their song ‘he End, which featured in the movie, Apocalypse Now. He was eventually killed by police after a five-hour stand-off.

    But yesterday Mrs Saunders claimed she could have saved his life if police had not forced her to turn off her mobile phone and refused to let her talk to her husband. She choked back tears as she relived the siege and said she was convinced she could have calmed him down by saying: 'Darling, it's all right. I'm here.' It was only after his death that she found out he had repeatedly asked to speak to her before police opened fire and that he also sent her a blank text message.

    She told an inquest into his death: ‘The truth of our relationship was Mark and I loved each other. I know that Mark would never, ever have hurt me. ‘I think he would have just said, “Darling, I am sorry”. ‘And I would have said, “Sweetheart, it is OK. Do not worry, we will sort this out’”.’ Mr Saunders also sent a second text message saying: ‘Call me now.’

    Mrs Saunders dashed home from work on the afternoon of May 6, 2008 hoping to talk to him on hearing that he taken up the shotgun, which he legally owned. But when she arrived at their home in Markham Square, off the Kings Road in Chelsea, the police were already there. Her husband later threw a message in an empty box out of the window which contained a message saying: ‘I love my wife dearly, love Mark xxxx’.

    A neighbour who found the message tried to convince police to let him speak to his wife. Jane Winkworth said: ‘I was really angry that they wouldn’t bring her to speak to him. ‘I interpreted it as a message from a young man in despair, not the message of a dangerous killer.’

    The inquest heard how the former Territorial Army soldier would become paranoid and belligerent. He lost touch with reality, behaving ‘as if he lived in a fantasy world’ when he had been drinking heavily, the hearing was told. He tried Alcoholics Anonymous and saw a number of psychiatrists who prescribed anti-depressants.

    One professional was concerned that he would commit suicide if a period of depression and a binge coincided. But Mrs Saunders said her husband had been sober for two months before his death. Although she said she didn’t know that he had been taking cocaine a few days earlier. The fateful day of May 6, 2008 started like any other. The couple drove to QEB Chambers at London’s Temple, where they both worked before Mr Saunders left to take his mother-in-law- who had been staying with them- to the train station. His whereabouts afterwards remain unclear.

    His wife told the hearing that she suspected he had been drinking heavily when he failed to answer his mobile phone. Telephone records show he was calling escort agencies, although investigators have been unable to find any witnesses to verify his movements. David Hay, a taxi driver picked him up around 4pm in Kensington and drove him home.

    In the taxi he made a series of bizarre calls to other lawyers, leaving a message saying ‘Ha, ha’ 22 times. Mr Hay told the police watchdog: ‘He turned back round to me and I gave him his change.

    REPRISAL FEARS ENSURE ANONYMITY FOR POLICE MARKSMEN

    The police marksmen who shot Mark Saunders have been granted anonymity. The 12 Scotland Yard officers, who shot Saunders were allowed to keep their names secret because of fears of reprisals from underworld figures. Coroner Dr Paul Knapman said the inquest would not be impaired by the decision for secrecy.

    ‘The majority of these officers have expressed fears about possible retribution from violent criminals with whom they have been involved in the past, although no specific threats have been identified,’ Dr Knapman said. ‘The evidence will not be “secret” in any way and they will be visible to myself, to the jury and to the family of Mr Saunders.’ ‘He was looking straight at me and he just said, “I’m going to die.” ‘When he looked at me his eyes were large and bulging, I could see the terror in his eyes. ‘It was scary, like he was on drugs or something.’

    Shortly after the lawyer returned home, neighbours reported hearing ‘a very loud big boom’ as he started firing shots around 4.40pm. Neighbour Lesley Hummell called police after her daughter’s first floor bedroom was sprayed with bullets. Metropolitan Police marksmen raced to the scene, taking up positions in the street outside as they learned he was armed with two shotguns- which he had a firearms licence for.

    Around 5pm Mr Saunders called Ivor Treherne, a senior clerk at his chambers, saying he was in trouble’. Mr Treherne told investigators: ‘’He (Mark) said “I’ve got my gun out and I’ve already shot it”. ‘’He said “Listen”, and he fired the gun. ‘I said “Stop being stupid, put the gun down”. ‘He said “It’s too late, I’ve already fired the gun and the police are here already”.’

    Police negotiators attempted to bring the siege to an end by persuading him to drop the gun, but at 9.32pm Mr Saunders was shot dead. Moments earlier he had opened his kitchen window to fire directly, having previously only shot through a closed window. He died after being hit in the head and chest by at least five bullets fired by seven officers. None of the marksmen have faced any charges over the death. Prosecutors ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge them with any offence. The hearing continues.

    He was kind, caring, but a slave to drink She was a small, solitary figure in the crowded courtroom and her voice was firm and clear. The picture painted by Elizabeth Saunders was of a marriage poisoned by her husband’s addiction to alcohol – and tinged with the sadness of what happened to a couple who, it appears, could hardly bear to be apart without sending each other a stream of text messages. The only time she lost her composure was when she was told he had taken cocaine just days before he died.

    The barrister was shot after a five-hour siege at his home in this West London street She choked with emotion on the witness stand and took a few seconds to recover. Later she had to listen to evidence that proved Mr Saunders had made calls to escort agencies on the afternoon before he died. Mrs Saunders told the court that the couple met at work. He was a younger barrister tipped to become a leading specialist in divorce cases. They began a relationship in 2005 and married the following year.

    He was talented, ‘kind and caring’, she said, and they were ‘very much in love’. It was a very close relationship and they would send each other text messages continually to make sure they stayed in touch. However he had been drinking since the age of 13. She was aware of his alcohol problem from an early stage, and revealed that he had received a police caution in 2005 for being drunk and disorderly. He was drinking to excess most nights. At one stage, the hearing was told, he was downing up to 120 units a week, the equivalent of almost four bottles of spirits. His consumption was so high that doctors were concerned at his selfdestructive behaviour.

    Mrs Saunders told the jury his difficulty was that he had a low tolerance for alcohol. His speech would become slurred after just three drinks. Later he would be ‘ashamed’ of his conduct-He had been prescribed Prozac to ‘even out his moods’, she said – but she never had any idea he was taking cocaine. ‘When I first started to see Mark I was aware that he was drinking heavily in a social context. I made it clear to him that if our relationship was going to progress, that would need to change. I know he contacted Alcoholics Anonymous and went there on three or four occasions – but he felt it wasn’t for him, and it didn’t work out.’ Mrs Saunders said her husband was ‘sensitive’ with a ‘huge energy and love for life’. He had battled to control his drinking but there had been several ‘blips’ in the months before he died.

    ‘What Mark wanted to do was control the drinking, to be able to be a social drinker. There were occasions, probably every three months or so, when it went wrong.’ His usual routine when he got into trouble with drink was to avoid her for a few hours, then send an apologetic text. She would then ring him, and tell him not to worry or be embarrassed. In March 2008, she said, he finally resolved to give up alcohol. She believed he had been teetotal ever since, save for one glass of wine the day before he died.

    The inquest heard that, in Mr Saunders’s medical notes, a consultant psychiatrist had said: ‘He is at risk of serious injury. ‘Considering the paranoid and belligerent state he finds himself during the binges, there is a real risk that he may be set upon, stabbed or killed during one of these altercations. ‘I am in absolutely no doubt that he must abstain completely from all mind-altering substances.’ Mr Saunders’s best friend, Alex Booth, added that he would often hurt himself and lose his phone when drinking, adding: ‘He completely lost touch with reality.’

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  • Police 'chaotic' over gun siege that led to barrister's death