UK Family Law Reform

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----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 6:04 PM
Subject: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP - I wonder if you would pursue this?

Dr Phyllis Starkey MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Phone: 01908 225522
Fax: 01908 312297

7th January 2005

Dear Dr Starkey

The Distortion of Family Policy

Many thanks for forwarding Lord Filkin’s letter of 15 December about the substitution of the Early Interventions reforms. I’m not entirely sure that the picture painted by Lord Filkin is accurate. The truth is that a major family policy reform was hijacked by Whitehall. This is something of a disaster. The reforms stopped by Whitehall would have resolved the problems in the family courts I wonder if you would could pursue this? I attach two documents:

(i) a background briefing

(ii) a proposed letter to Lord Filkin

Could you write to Lord Filkin again?

Yours sincerely

David Mortimer

Family Policy – Background Briefing

January 2005

Whitehall: Hijacking the Reform Process

A bona-fide set of reform proposals developed by the legal profession was approved by Lord Filkin. The detailed specifications for this ‘Early Intervention’ reform were passed by the Minister to a DfES civil servant called Bruce Clark in October 2003. Mr Clark [1] was told to implement a finished design for a new model court system.

Reform: Destroyed in Whitehall

Mr Bruce Clark, of his own initiative:

- decided to stop the approved reforms

- decided to replace the approved reforms with his personal ideas

Mr Clark, who had no relevant experience in this area:

- devised a project which is the opposite of the agreed project

- assured the Minister that he was producing the original EI reform project

The Deformation of Family Policy

The upshot is Mr Clark’s “Family Resolutions” project, which:

- reverses the framework of the Florida system

- abandons the proposed EI reforms

- does not impinge on the existing legal system

- consists of a pre-court non-legal Public Relations exercise

- delays access to the existing court system

Meanwhile, a Green Paper was prepared on the basis of Mr Clark’s assurances that the original EI reform project (which Mr Clark had destroyed) was nearing completion. The policies announced in the Green paper are in consequence incapable of fulfillment


A fully-documented ‘insider’ record, including day-by-day correspondence and emails up to Ministerial level, is available on request.

Suggested letter to Lord Filkin

Dear Lord Filkin,

Family Policy - The Early Interventions Project

Thank you for your letter of 15 December. Mr Mortimer has asked me to say how very helpful he found your letter, in particular the paragraph that: “The Family Resolutions Pilot Project has not abandoned the principles of early intervention. Indeed in designing the Pilot Project we have drawn a great deal from the experience of other jurisdictions, particularly the Early Interventions model in Florida.” Mr Mortimer appears to think that this account is not fully supported by the written record. He claims that the Family Resolutions project (which he says is the opposite of the EI project) reverses the principles of Florida’s judicature. His point is that the approved EI reforms have been abandoned. Mr Mortimer claims that the legal profession accepts that the original EI project, which he says has been stopped, is the answer to the Family Court problem. He says that the wrong project has been built. My constituent wonders if there is truth in the stories that:

(i) a lone Whitehall official decided to stop the EI project

(ii) this same official concealed this decision by means of extended assurances to Ministers that he was completing the original EI project

Mr Mortimer insists that there is an extensive written record to this effect. I have reassured him generally that his beliefs are misplaced. Perhaps you would assist with a reply specifically directed at points (i) and (ii) above?

Best regards Dave