Monday, 4 August 2008

Forum post of the letter I wrote to Michael Gove MP

Letter I have just written to Michael Gove MP - Shadow Minister for Children

I made a post a little earlier about the Michel Gove piece on Channel 4 News tonight.

The more I thought about it - the more I realised that here is a guy who has just wasted a prime slot on a major news programme on an issue that is likely to have little or no relevance to his brief for children.

I have sent him the following email.  I hope I'm not out of line here, but it needed to be said.


Dear Michael,

I am not one of your constituents, but I am a Conservative voter.  I served in the army for 24 years and am now self-employed.

What prompted me to write was seeing you on Channel 4 News this evening.

I felt that as the Minister for Children, to be talking about something as trivial as lads mags on Prime Time TV was a massive wasted opportunity.  I think that magazines of that type have an incredibly tiny effect on the family and ultimately family breakdown.

You mentioned in the report very briefly the damage a family breakdown has on children.

There are issues out there that are far more important and pressing than lads mags and are actually things that you CAN change when you undoubtedly win the next election.

Decreasing the amount of family breakdowns via political incentives are unlikely to have any immediate effect on the welfare of children, but there are things that you can begin to do now and strongly pledge to do before the next election that would help 1000's of children have a much better future.

Since this current government came to power over 100 children a week have been forcibly separated from one of their parents (usually the father) by our Family Law Courts.

This is a national tragedy.  The Children's Act 1989 (although not perfect) should be legislation enough to ensure that fathers are able to play a fair and meaningful part of their children's lives after separation or divorce.  But the our secretive Family Court system is ignoring the spirit of that Act.

I am a father who was separated from his wife back in June 2006.  I have 3 daughters whom I love dearly, but since August 8th last year I have had no contact with them at all.  My wife unilaterally stopped me from seeing them, presumably to spite me.  It took me 4 months to get a hearing for a Contact order.  CAFCASS interviewed my 3 girls without having any idea of the back ground or interviewing either my wife or myself.  During the 4 months that I was unable to see them, I can only presume that my wife turned them against me, because the CAFCASS officer said that my eldest did not want to see me.  She passed on her findings to the judge and he said that based on their ages 14,13 and 11 he would not be making an order for contact.  He generously allowed
me to "write to them once a month and send small gifts at appropriate times", and further instructed my wife to encourage them to respond to my letters.  She told the judge "Oh Yes of course I will".  Since that day I have written to them almost every month and sent gifts for Xmas and their birthdays.  I have not had a single reply!

I am pleading with you as a father yourself and as Shadow Minister for Children to look into the gross injustices that are being dished out to fathers and their children everyday.

Because of the complete lack of regard to my children and my wish to be a father to them, I have recently joined the pressure group Fathers-4- Justice.  Since joining I have quickly come to realise that I have little or no hope of ever getting to see my girls again through the Family Courts.  Some members have been fighting for years and have got nowhere.  Some have cost the hard hit taxpayer millions of £'s in Legal Aid fees and still got nowhere.  What hope then have I, when I do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford to go back to court time and time again?

Members of this governments cabinet have been approached by Fathers-4-Justice for dialogue, but have had their requests refused.

I ask you as a father to please just sit still for a minute or 2 and try to imagine life without your daughter Beatrice.  Unable to see her, or speak to her for an indeterminate period of time…….  Believe me – take it from someone who knows – it is heart breaking.

As Shadow Minister for Children, please, please, please, just listen to what we have to say.  We are not nutters or crackpots – just fathers who have suffered or are suffering grave injustices from our Family Courts.

You are in a position to listen to us and to have a positive effect that will transform 1000's of children's lives every year.

Yours Sincerely,

A heart broken father of 3 wonderful girls

Tim Line