Frankie Limata married into the wealthy Luckwell family, which is in the film business. The marriage did not "work out" as people casually say these days. Love flew out the window in the course of arguments over money. Understandable arguments, perhaps, as our Frankie ran up debts of £226,000.
He has now obtained a judgement from the High Court ordering his wife to sell her home to provide £1.2 million to pay off those debts and buy a new home. This despite entering into a pre-nuptial agreement to the contrary and having given repeated assurances (upon which she and her family had relied to their detriment) that he would never make any claim against their assets. The home is his wife's sole asset and was a gift to her from her wealthy father.
His name may end in a vowel, but our Frankie is no man of respect.
I deliberately link to The Guardian's account so that readers can duly note how rich (and therefore in left-world, evil) the family subjected to this legalised banditry is. I am hoping that even the hardest-hearted among you is feeling for the Luckwells and recognising how disgusting it is that a man with no reasonable expectations of wealth should have acquired a right to a lifestyle he enjoyed by marriage.
The pretext of course, as so often with leftist evil, is "the children". The judge thinks it would be wrong for them to move between their mother's expensive soon-to-be-ex home in Connaught Square (near the Blairs) and the kind of home their father's income could provide. Personally, I think that would be an educational benefit in their lives. Children grow up both happily and unhappily in poor homes and rich ones; money having nothing to do with good parenting. Certainly any inconvenience to them would be infinitesimal by comparison with the damage done by their father's shameful example of dishonesty.
With me so far? Now consider that this (with smaller numbers but in similar proportions) is what many British middle class divorces look like without attracting any press coverage at all.
The difference being, of course, that the sexes of the parties are reversed.
A pregnant Italian has a panic attack while on a training course in Britain organised by her employers. Her unborn daughter is ripped untimely from her womb by Essex Social Services. She is first put into care and then given up for adoption in Britain. All this is sanctioned by the Court of Protection despite the mother's court appearance in a stabilised condition at which she "impressed" the judge. Maybe it's because I am an ex-lawyer but the most sinister words to me are
she was deemed to have had no "capacity" to instruct lawyers
I have never heard of a fellow human more in need of a specialist lawyer than her. Anna Raccoon, a great campaigning blogger now lost to us often told horrifying tales of the secretive Court of Protection. Having spent my career as a business lawyer, I found them hard to believe. My own experience of our courts was of the bumbling, pompous, self-regarding inefficiency one must expect of any state monopoly, but never of malice or cruelty.
Is our law so dumb it can't infer a woman about to be assaulted in this manner might want a lawyer? Could one not have been appointed on that assumption? When back on her meds and able to appear sensibly in court, did our laws really give the state the power to take her child away permanently on the basis she 'might' have a relapse? After all, every mother 'might' develop a mental illness. Even an adoptive one hand-picked for compliance with state norms.
Can anyone really disagree with her lawyers' mild assertion that
...even if the council had been acting in the woman’s best interests, officials should have consulted her family beforehand and also involved Italian social services, who would be better-placed to look after the child.
For that matter, her family might have been better-placed to look after the child. Nowadays that doesn't even seem to occur to our servants turned masters. Our social services didn't even contact them. If there is a family member willing to accept responsibility, the involvement of social services should end. They need (if they are needed at all) to be reduced to the status of an emergency service, not regarded - as they now seem to be in Soviet Britain - as the default guardians of every child.
What kind of employer does this poor woman have that management even allowed social services to get near her? Why didn't they get her back to her family and the doctor treating her condition in Italy? If that was impracticable, did they feel no moral obligation to get her a British doctor who could sort out her meds? If that was impracticable, why did they not get her a lawyer? I think they should be named because I want to boycott them.
The victim of this miscarriage of British justice is bi-polar, but living normally with the aid of her meds. It could happen to any of us. Mental illness doesn't mean you cease to exist as a person. It doesn't mean you cease to have rights. It doesn't mean you cease to love your children. It doesn't mean you won't have a long life of grief if your baby is taken from you against your will and put forever beyond your reach. It does means you need protection, which is why the "Court of Protection" has that name. Sadly it seems to be a Newspeak name, if ever there was one.
A friend having shared some of his divorce paperwork with me recently I begin to fear that our Family Courts are worse than merely incompetent. Another friend, a judge specialising in immigration matters, told me her court was packed with leftists under the last government and that she was subjected to compulsory indoctrination. Still, I am reluctant to accept that any part of our judicial system is this heartlessly, brutally statist. I need to believe in the independence and neutrality of judges for without the Rule of Law we are lost. I could not expend so much effort on blogging if I had no hope.
One final, relatively minor, thought. Our society pretends to go to enormous lengths to respect and protect different cultures. How come this child can be denied her Italian heritage?
The video is a little ropey but please persist and view the whole thing. As ever, Dr Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) is both interesting and darkly amusing.
He reports that, under a threat of violence (50% of doctors have been assaulted in the last 12 months) most general practitioners in Britain are routinely filling out fraudulent certificates enabling fit individuals to go "on the sick" where benefits are 60% higher than for unemployment and there is no need to pretend to seek work. More than 2.5 million people have such certificates and he claims that "the great majority of them are fraudulent or at least untruthful." More than a million people have them for "depression and anxiety" alone. He comments wrily that it is an achievement of the British welfare state that it has "created more invalids than the First World War".
Another achievement of the British welfare state is an enormous growth in heroin use. In the 1950s, when heroin addicts were registered with the Home Office, there were known to be about 60 in the whole country. It is now thought that there are about 300,000. He describes an official ideology that heroin addiction is a sickness beyond the addicts' control, which renders them unable to work and drives them to crime. An ideology he says is "completely and obviously wrong."
Every user chose freely to take heroin the first time and most use it intermittently for up to a year before beginning to take it regularly. Most users live in a sub-culture in which the consequences of taking heroin are far better known, as he puts it, than "the dates of the Second World War".
He says it's untrue that medical or other support is necessary to give up heroin. He jokingly calls Mao Zedong "the greatest drug therapist in history" because he told China's heroin addicts that if they didn't give it up he would shoot them. 20 million duly did. Without recommending such a radical approach, he points out that this clearly proves a "conceptual difference between, say, rheumatoid arthritis and drug addiction." Mao's approach, after all, would not have "cured" the former.
For so long as users don't give up heroin he says that's no reason for them not to work. Research shows that in the fifties most American addicts worked normally and indeed most of our own users now lead very active working lives - except that their "work" is burglary.
The growth in heroin use is therefore driven, he seems to suggest, by the needs of the "bureaucracy of care" serving the addicts. Its members need a passive population that takes no personal responsibility in order to secure their jobs. He believes that "at some level" these public employees know full well that they are playing games. In his words;
I would say the addiction services need the addicts more than the addicts need the services.
That's a more shocking critique of welfarism from an insider that I would ever have dared to offer from the outside. To suggest that an army of "carers" has, in effect, steadily built heroin use from 60 to 300,000 to give themselves jobs seems so wicked as to be scarcely believable. But then who would have thought the learned members of our medical profession could be recruited to knowing, if not willing, participation in frauds worth billions of pounds?
For all that its servants justify their jobs by droning on about the supposed immorality and greed of their bogeymen in business, only the state, ladies and gentlemen, can corrupt on such a massive scale.
I was surprised by last night's Newsnight (available here for a while on iPlayer). Not because it delighted (of course it did) in accusing a Conservative politician of the Thatcher era of being a paedophile, but because this was an old story and no new evidence was offered. The BBC knew it couldn't name the accused man for legal reasons (though it never explained that) thus putting under suspicion every male in Mrs Thatcher's government.
Of course, the BBC itself is at the heart of a paedophilia scandal and an associated moral panic but even I would expect better of Auntie than deliberate distraction tactics. I would even have hoped better of it than to use such a non-story to mitigate the effect of two others on the same programme that cast its beloved Labour in a bad light. Sadly the relish with which it repeated "Conservative," "Tory," "Thatcher" was as evident as the care with which it played down all references to Labour in the other stories.
You may say the new story was that an old accuser (many of whose similar allegations have been challenged by the author of a book on the scandal) has demanded a meeting with David Cameron in a predictable response to the Prime Minister's silly "sweeping statement that abused people need to be believed." Those telling the truth need to be believed. The liars, bandwagon-jumpers, mass hysterics and fraudulent compensation-seekers need something else entirely. The difficult task in these cases, just as in those involving less emotive crimes, is to distinguish truth from lies. That task is not helped by emotionalism.
The middle of a moral panic is a dangerous time to make such a point. The witch-hunters are likely to look in your direction and - as you are not joining in their cries of "witch" - cry "witch" at you. Anna Raccoon has been experiencing a fair bit of that. I have never met her in person. For all I know some of the ad hominem attacks on her contain some grains of truth. Or not. Still her evidence on the subject of the alleged child abuse at the facility where she lived at the relevant time should be heard. In fact the more her enemies play the woman not the ball, the more I think what she has to say is important. Rod Liddle had some sensible observations on the subject in The Spectator (h/t Navigator for pointing me to that article).
The fact is that the middle of a moral panic is exactly when such points need to be made. For example, I am sure the North Wales childrens home affair involved real and serious child abuse. I am convinced that there are people who were rightly convicted of terrible crimes. But in the moral panic that attended the investigation into that case, it is possible (and I fear likely) that innocent people working in those childrens homes were wrongly accused and their lives trashed. We now know how stupid the South Ronalsday satanic ritual abuse story was, not to mention its American equivalents. Given that they were literal witch-hunts, it's hard to believe they were given credence in the modern era. Yet they were. And the reason-crushing cry of "think of the children!" went up against anyone trying to discuss them calmly.
One of the books that had the greatest influence on me as a young man was this one. It was on the reading list from my University before I started to study law and I commend it to you. I freely admit to using many of the debating tricks it mentions in my attempts to persuade people away from the current, morally-corrosive political orthodoxy. My role on this blog is advocacy, not academic study. I hope that I fall into few of the fallacies mentioned, however, and that I would be honest enough to acknowledge them if I did.
To say we need to keep our heads in the middle of the Savile affair and evaluate carefully all accusations arising from it is not to side with him. Still less, as the more rabid "moral entrepreneurs" are prone to allege, does it suggest any "agenda" in support of paedophilia. I would love to see the truth told and justice done, in so far as the guilty are in reach. Those taking part in the moral panic may see their ad hominem attacks as weapons in a crusade for justice, but they are dangerously wrong. Those they scream at as they ask them to consider the truth are not Justice's enemies. They are.
Pace Catherine Dorothea Bennett, Oxford grad., former Baroness Sackville and current squeeze of by-no-means-short-of-a-bob-or-two John Humphreys, laws are not made by those who are ("grotesquely" or otherwise) rich. In England & Wales they are made by the judges or Parliament. In the former case, highly experienced ex-advocates adjudicate real-life situations, setting binding precedents. In the latter case ex-postmen and PR men adjudicate the outcome of future situations based on their sick imaginings and/or grotesque political views. Give me judges and reality any day.
As this case illustrates, judge-made law evolves as society changes. At law school I was taught that pre-nuptial agreements were void ab initio as being contrary to public policy, which favoured the institution of marriage. That is now no longer true. While some of us may regret it, our society no longer regards marriage as so important. More than half Britain's children are born out of wedlock, after all. The Common Law of England is quietly doing its stuff as it has, reliably, for centuries. This flexibility, Ms Bennett dismisses haughtily:-
It is ... ancient tradition for the law never to be decided quite firmly enough that ... rich misers and resentful spouses cannot challenge it in future, which ensures that lowlier divorcing couples can never receive clear advice from their lawyers.
Judge-made law gave England & Wales one of the best (and certainly the most flexible) legal systems in the world. If ever you find an English law stupid, enquire further. You will usually find it originated in Parliament, not the courts. As a law student, I once asked Lord Denning if it was right, in a democracy, that he - an unelected judge - had had such an influence on English Law. He replied jokingly "Given the quality of the members of the House of Commons, young man, I think you are better off with me." He had a point. Democracy is the least bad way yet implemented of choosing men and women to administer the affairs of the state but does not guarantee the quality of legislators. English judges gave you equality before the law, habeas corpus and innocence until proven guilty. Parliament gave you control orders.
Ms Bennett seems anyway far more exercised by the amounts at stake than the principle under discussion. Perhaps it's envy? Perhaps the amount at stake when she divorced the 7th Baron Sackville was not as much as she could have wished?
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's true of course that the judges more often adjudicate on the troubles of the rich. That doesn't make the precedents less useful. In fact, let me put this in terms our Dorothea might approve of; the rich pay a kind of "progressive" taxation whereby the money they spend on litigation benefits the little people. Arguably, it was the first such taxation in our history.
The thrust (if not the tone) of her point, when she finally gets to it after tedious paragraphs of envy-fuelled ad hominem (and gossipy trivia more worthy of Hello than The Observer) is not as bad as one might fear;
...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...
Quite. And can I just add that the only person (apart from the Supreme Court judges and my learned friends on both sides) who comes out of the Radmacher case with honour is the lady's wise father. Without his stern defence of her interests when she was "head over heels" in love, there would have been no pre-nup to uphold. Well done, sir.
I am sorry to return to a subject that upsets my valued female readers, but I am interested to know how they react to the linked story.
It seems that Tiger Woods has been unfaithful to his wife. It is reported she is re-negotiating their pre-nuptial agreement so as (a) to receive more money than previously agreed in the event of divorce and (b) to receive an advance payment of $5 million in compensation for his behaviour. If these unconfirmed accounts were true, which behaviour would be worse? Of course it is not clear who made these financial proposals. Maybe they came from Mr Woods and his wife is secretly disgusted (but playing along to maximise her future divorce settlement). If so, how does that change your view?
Now some questions for male readers. How would you feel if your wife, in such circumstances, demanded money to remain your wife? And how would you feel about yourself, if you had offered your wife money to stay with you?
I am sure some readers will feel this is not a "normal" marriage. Paying large sums to his wife may be a good investment for Mr Woods if it means he can maintain his clean image and continue to derive a good income from Accenture and other sponsors. But there are children involved. What does it mean for them to grow up in a family based on a financial deal?
Finally, a question for everyone. How do we feel about the women who are now coming forward to describe their private liaisons with Mr Woods to the press?
For myself, if these accounts were true, I think I would feel more disgusted by Mr Woods. In his place as soon as money came into the equation, I would accept the marriage was over, take the image and financial consequences, initiate a divorce and do my best to protect my children. My main problem would be to handle - without bitterness - the realisation that I had loved a woman prepared to contemplate charging money for "forgiveness". And to deal with the realisation that, given the attitudes of the family courts, she would be bringing up my children without my influence.
Maybe, happy thought, that's the explanation? Would we all feel differently about Tiger Woods if it transpired that the reported bribes were to allow him to stay near his children and the "image" issue was incidental? How would we feel, under that hypothesis, about a mother renting access to her children?
The natural father of Peter Connelly, "Baby P", with no apparent sense of irony, is suing Haringey Council for negligence in the discharge of its duties. The council's social workers, he says, failed to protect his son. For shame.
Relationships end, of course. Fathers often have to leave their children in the care of their ex-partners. Indeed, due to what Harriet Harman might (if she were at least consistent in her foolishness) call "institutional sexism" on the part of the family courts, men can seldom obtain custody. Yet if ever a father could have done so, it was this man. If there exists a mother less fitted to the care of her child than Tracey Connelly, I hope never to meet her. His father must have known the true character of Peter's mother. Knowing it, how could he leave his son in her care?
Peter's parents lived together for the first three months of his
tragic life. After their relationship ended, and the monsters who
killed Peter moved in, the father had continued access to his son.
Given what we know now, it is hard to conceive that a loving parent
could have failed to notice his distress. A loving father with
occasional sole charge of the boy had more opportunity to clean off the
chocolate smeared on Peter's injuries than a social worker. We
are told that Peter reached out to him, screaming "Daddy, Daddy!" when
handed back to his tormentors shortly before he died. The best that can
be said for this hopeful litigant is that Peter thought him a better carer than his mum.
It's hard to think him more than slightly better.
So, the more true his accusations against Haringey's social services, the greater his own guilt. If he is innocent because he was deceived by Ms Connelly (who would have to be considerably more cunning than she looks), so much more so (given their lesser knowledge of her and access to the child) are the social workers.
If I were him, I would be too tormented with guilt to function, let alone to calculate the monetary value of my loss. But this product of the Welfare State is made of sterner stuff than me. He confidently denies all suggestions that he might be to blame. He believed his ex's explanation for Peter's injuries; that the child was "clumsy," though he had opportunities to observe Peter himself. Are we to believe he didn't know his son was on the child protection register? Are we to believe he could not discern the true nature of the brutes who lived with Peter and his mother?
I am sure he is as sincere in his claim as in his desire for £400,000 in damages. It makes sense in the warped logic of underclass Britain. How could he think himself to blame when the Welfare State denies the very notion of personal responsibility? The "caring" apparatus of the "progressive" British state deplores the concept, as witness the agonising over the cruel fate, not of the dead child, but of his killers. After all, they are not responsible either. They are the products of their social environment; mere automata to be successfully reprogrammed if only the taxpayers would not be so mean about employing enough social workers. Haringey Social Services may not like being sued on this occasion, but they share Peter's father's underlying objective; to supplant the responsibility of the parent with that of the state. If he wins his claim, they will soon realise they have been given a stick with which to beat the ungenerous taxpayers.
Not only the jobs, but the ideological integrity of its employees depends upon the notion that the citizen is a passive product of his environment; that he can't take care of himself, can't educate his children, can't look after his family without their benevolent intervention. By their own logic, as they are the only truly responsible people, this man's claim should succeed. But by the same logic, since in truth the health and welfare of every human depends on self-reliance and the loving support of family and friends, we are all damned to some (let's hope lesser) variant of Peter's fate.
The prigs at Alcohol Concern believe (like so many other Statist swine) that they know better than us how to bring up our children. Both my daughters were introduced gradually to alcohol from a young age in the French manner, with a view to their learning to appreciate quality wine in joyful moderation. Understandably, Alcohol Concern's demand to criminalise such an approach, has brought Devil's Kitchen into full, fine, fulminating, foul-mouthed form:
Personally, I shall be sending a letter to Alcohol Concern, expressing
my concern at their authoritarian tendencies. Oh, and I'll probably
call them a pack of ***** as well.
By comparison, Raedwald - the most articulate boat on the internet (and normally no slouch at invective) - comes over all lyrical on the subject:
When I think back on all the good things in my life - all those brief little scenarios of joy and pleasure, the warm laughter of friends, the passion of lovers, the sudden stunning realisations that you are gazing at a scene of true beauty, the closeness of companions who have shared past danger - always in the scene somewhere is alcohol. The old French vintner who declared "A day without wine is like a day without Sunshine" had it spot on.