Cardiff council deputy leader Neil McEvoy
Cardiff council’s deputy leader Neil McEvoy has called for a full investigation into allegations that publicly-funded groups are helping women defy court orders and block fathers’ lawful rights of access to their children.
The move comes weeks after a major row in which Coun McEvoy was suspended temporarily by Plaid Cymru after accusing two women’s groups of committing “child abuse”.
In an open letter to the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, Coun McEvoy writes: “I call on you now to initiate a commission or committee to look at how some of the third sector operates in the closed world of family breakdown, which involves children.
“The respected charity Families Need Fathers Both Parents Matter Cymru has confirmed that its clients claim that some third sector groups in Wales support mothers who are breaking court orders. Such groups are publicly-funded.
“Furthermore, such groups offer what is termed, ‘non-judgemental support’. Non-judgemental support essentially involves such groups believing and acting upon any allegation which is made. Reports are written and submitted to various agencies and yet no checking is done. False allegations can and are at times written as fact. This practice severely distorts the child having a fair chance of a reasonable relationship with both parents, as stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been adopted in law by the Welsh Government.”
Coun McEvoy goes on to state that he firmly believes in the right to refuge and the right to be protected, adding: “I would comment, however, that we seem to have developed a family breakdown industry whereby organisations receive millions of pounds in public money and seem to be straying into areas which should not concern them.The issue of contact between a parent and its child should be dealt with by a court of law when disputes are irreconcilable. Organisations which involve themselves in contact disputes on the side usually of the mother in my view are acting ultra vires and are going beyond their remit.
“As you are well aware, a court order for contact is only awarded when an assessment has been done of usually a father and when a court of law has decided that it is in the best interests of the child to see its father. I have been made aware of a number of examples where a number of good fathers claim to have been denied contact, with their court orders being ignored, while the mother is being supported by a third sector group.
“I made you aware of three organisations in the family justice review that are alleged to be operating in this way.
“I was grateful for your time by telephone in early November, and I am now asking you to conduct a full-scale investigation into the third sector groups that I am talking about.”
Coun McEvoy tells Mr Towler he is unable to pass over documents that would put him in contempt of court, but says he would be happy “to serve on any committee investigating these matters”.
He concludes: “For clarity, I am asking you to initiate an investigation into allegations of a culture of supporting those breaking court orders and presenting evidence which has no foundation.
“Such behaviour has long term damaging effects on children.
“As a society, we all pick up the pieces.”
Last night Mr Towler said: “I have today received a letter from Coun McEvoy requesting me to undertake a full investigation.
“My office is considering the points and concerns he has raised and will be responding to him in due course.”