Solicitor general Harriet Harman’s attempt to have a father
jailed for child cruelty was thrown out by the Court of Appeal.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty
to child cruelty at Harrow Crown Court, west London, in April and
was later given a two-year community rehabilitation order.
He admitted caning three of his eight children, aged 13, 10 and
eight, with a length of bamboo to persuade them to own up to
Jonathan Laidlaw, counsel for Harman, argued that the man had
been treated with “undue lenience”.
Harman’s view was that parents who used anything more than
“reasonable punishment” on their children should automatically be
One of the three judges, Lord Justice Keene, said: “If
chastisement goes beyond what is reasonable, it will be a criminal
offence, but it doesn’t automatically follow that a custodial
sentence is always called for.”