Court service in U-turn on militants

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service has
reversed its ban on talks with militant fathers’ groups, despite
reports of increased staff intimidation by activists.

Chief executive Anthony Douglas has held talks with Fathers 4
Justice leader Matt O’Connor, ending a freeze imposed in May 2003
as a result of staff harassment and attacks on Cafcass

The door is also open to the Equal Parenting Council, the other
group subject to the ban.

However, a report last week by family court union Napo finds
intimidation by militant groups has increased. Napo has presented
the findings to Cafcass and children’s minister Margaret Hodge and
called for activists to be prosecuted and injunctions used to
protect staff.

A Cafcass spokesperson said that the service condemned the
intimidation but had decided that dialogue was the best way of
protecting staff and tackling claims that Cafcass is biased against

She added: “No organisation wants to say ‘we don’t engage in

Napo assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher said: “There is no
evidence of systematic bias against fathers. However, the
escalation in intimidation against family court staff has caused
stress and is bound to lead to absenteeism.”

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