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Justice ministers have told MPs they want urgently to ban perpetrators of domestic abuse from directly cross-examining their victims within the family court system.The Justice minister ,Sir Oliver Heald,told MPs that ministers wanted a ban on cross-examination by perpetrators and that they are prepared to introduce the necessary primary legislation to make the change.
The Justice Minister advised the Commons that the timescale for introducing the change would depend on how long it took the Ministry of Justice to complete the “fast-track” work which was now being conducted. Sir Heald stated; “The lord chancellor has requested urgent advice. It is illegal in the criminal courts and I am determined to see it banned in the civil family courts too…In order to ban cross-examination it would be necessary for primary legislation.”
Support for such a move is widespread with the president of the family court division, Sir James Munby, having previously been outspoken in his support for a ban on direct cross-examination.
During the parliamentary session the MP for Hove said; “I have now spoken to numerous survivors of abuse whose accounts of torment under cross-examination, often by convicted rapists, in the family court are devastating to hear but impossible for most of us to even imagine…Abuse is being continued, perpetuated, right under the noses of judges and police – the very institutions that should be protecting the vulnerable with every sinew of state power.”
At Ramsdens, we have followed this story with interest since the true impact of the Legal Aid cuts became apparent. We have witnessed the reality that current family court procedures allow perpetrators of domestic abuse, some even with criminal convictions, to directly question their victims.
The current reality of the situation may even lead victims of domestic abuse to avoid court proceedings, meaning that they and potentially their children are at further risk from harm. At Ramsdens, we would always encourage victims of domestic abuse to come forward and to seek our help and support. We will always endeavour to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are shielded from their perpetrator as much as possible.
• In an emergency always dial 999
• We can obtain emergency, ex-parte (without-notice) non-molestation and occupation orders, preventing the perpetrator from contacting the victim, breach of which is a criminal offence.
• 24-hour support is available at charities such a Women’s Aid.
Contact our family team on 08000 147720, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text LAW to 67777 to arrange a free thirty minute appointment in any of our twelve offices across West Yorkshire