Thursday, 24 July 2008

Fathers 4 Justice back Dads fight

Fathers 4 Justice back Dads fight

Campaign group Fathers4Justice is to take up the cudgels on behalf of former Devizes man Tim Line, who has been barred from seeing his three daughters for a year.

Former soldier and international rally driver Mr Line has been separated from his wife of 18 years since June 2006 but last year a court denied him access to his daughters after they told a judge they no longer wanted to see him.

Mr Line, a former sergeant in the Royal Artillery who now lives in Hilperton, near Trowbridge, said all his efforts through the courts had done nothing but earn fees for solicitors.

He said: "It is horrendous to be on your own in the house. No noise. No children playing. It is like a living bereavement."

In May 2006 Mr Line came home from a trip away to be handed a summons to appear in court two days later.

He said: "Our marriage had not been going well but this came right out of the blue.

"My wife's solicitor told me, if I were you, Mr Line, I'd find a place to live in the next few days. I had a molestation order served on me, even though I had never been violent towards my wife or my children."

Mr Line found himself homeless, but worse was to come. He had been given access to his children aged 14, 13 and 11, who still live in the family home.

But the access gradually tailed off and a judge told him last August that his rights had been revoked after the girls said they no longer wanted to visit.

Mr Line said: "The judge said I could write to them and send them small gifts at the appropriate times of year."

He hasn't seen his two younger daughters since. He saw his eldest daughter briefly last Christmas, when he dropped off their presents.

He said: "We hugged and that is the last time I saw her. But since joining Fathers4 Justice I see I have been relatively lucky. Other fathers, like Mark Harris, who went to prison for ten months for waving to his children in the street, are much worse off.

"The law must be changed. Over 300,000 children are stopped from seeing one of their parents, usually the father. Only five per cent of fathers are allowed to see their children every day.

"But solicitors don't want things changed, because they make so much money out of it. They charge £185 an hour and each letter they receive or phone call they deal with costs you £18.50."

Fathers4Justice confirmed it would hold a protest in support of Mr Line, but would not say where and when it would take place.

Fathers4Justice South West co-ordinator Richard Adams said: "Tim Line served Queen and country in the Army for 24 years but as soon as his marriage broke down, this Government's family courts denied him access to his children."