Disclaimer: No Samantha Baldwins were consulted during the writing of this blog.
Dear Transparency Project,
Some people, I say some people but I mean me mostly, think that you are a bit of a sham charity, comprised mainly of self serving lawyer types using public money and perception to further your own ambitions. Rather than making family law clearer you are simply court apologists, loath to antagonise or even question the hand that feeds you.
However, your website suggests you are the go to authority on family law in the U.K., so despite my considerable misgivings, I am going to you to ask some questions that I think Joan Public, or at least that tiny percentage of Joan Public that is interested in family law, would like answers to. These questions have arisen as a direct result of the recent high profile Samantha Baldwin case. It is already a case you have reported extensively on (three separate posts) so I wonder would it be too much of an imposition to post once again on this case, or more specifically on legal issues – your area of expertise – arising from the Samantha Baldwin case.
God knows you have tried to make as clear as possible all available information about this case, yet still rumours and half truths abound. There are many reasons for this, why ‘believers’ – I think that’s what you call them in the trade- continue to ‘believe’ in spite of numerous clear articles from law charities such as yourselves and the blanket message spread by the mainstream media. News pieces such as the Daily Mail’s positive account of Sam’s parenting won’t help matters, humanising the Mother, describing her as a ‘doting parent’, words your team found to be ‘hallow’ in the face of Judge Lea’s subjective judgement. Of course, such media stories are only part of the problem.
Five minutes of positive press is no match for the ‘facts’ as released by Judge Lea and most doubters could be seen turning beetroot, mumbling ‘sorry’ and signing out of #justice4s quicker than you could say ‘twelve days, ‘long’ ones at that…’ But alas, for true believers, Judge Lea’s statement posed more questions than it answered. The rumours and half truths circulating suggesting that an alleged paeodphile ring was at the centre of this case were validated by Judge Lea’s own statement saying that there was an alleged paeodphile ring at the centre of the case.
‘…At the beginning of that judgment, I set out the respective positions of the parents in these terms: “This is a calamitous case. The two boys that I am concerned with have either been grossly sexually abused by their father, members of the father’s family, and a number of his male friends. Or, in all probability, they now have a false belief that he, his family and friends have done so. On either basis the consequences for the emotional and psychological wellbeing of these boys may well be catastrophic.” (taken from Transparency Project Website)
Whilst most people were prepared to take on face value the judge’s statement, especially with your website qualifying how thorough a job the judge had done, some were outright appalled by it.
Perhaps, part of the problem is that the believers in a case like this are made up broadly of family law obsessives. An obsession in something as obscure as family law is almost always bred by direct, or at the very least indirect experience of the process. In comedic circles such people would be called a tough crowd. It doesn’t matter how many times a charity set up to inform the public about family law explains the available data to them, they will twist it and find ways to subvert its findings to support their cause. Their cause, in a nutshell, is to expose the corrupt and inept nature of family law proceedings.
Now, I don’t have to tell a charity like yourselves about such people! How much easier would your life be if such individuals didn’t exist, constantly muddying the waters of an otherwise steady, single stream of clean, clear information?
Take The Women’s Coalition, for example. This group must be a thorn in the side of family law courts everywhere. Flouting reporting restrictions as some kind of mission statement! Suggesting the only way to protect women and children in family law is to expose, expose, expose…
This group, among others, form the core of why I am writing to you seeking clarity for Joan Public. Joan Public as we’ve already established, if she’s interested in family law, probably has a personal perspective. She may well have subscribed to justice4s or justice4silenced tags, but she always had her eye on the bigger picture. That is not to say that she does not want justice for Samantha Baldwin, working from the perception that Samantha Baldwin has been done an injustice, it is simply to say she wants more. Samantha Baldwin’s story is one of many to her.
This sort of individual is very distinct from the core group of supporters that Samantha’s case has attracted, most of whom know Samantha personally. These people want this mother reunited with her children. Initially they thought the best way to help was to publish information, now they think the best way to help is not to.
And here’s where you come in. There are rumours and half truths that suggest that Samantha Baldwin is being held personally to account in a closed family court for the actions of renegades. Not friends or colleagues, but absolute strangers, who see her name as an opportunity to expouse their own personal agendas, ideologies and opinions. Take me, for example, I have never met her or anyone that has ever met her. If it wasn’t for all the police released photos of her, I couldn’t pick her out of a line up. Yet, I have written three blogs about her case. Much like The Transparency Project. There is nothing that Samantha Baldwin could have reasonably done to stop me writing these articles.
Such is the egotistical nature of every opinionator out there! Surely these rumours, like so many that your team have already fielded, have no place in fact? Surely, Samantha Baldwin cannot be held accountable for the words and actions of people she has never met? People who would use her personal crisis in an opportunistic fashion? People who would use her and her children’s pain for personal or political gain? These questions are particularly pertinent when we recognise that Samantha Baldwin herself has never courted publicity. Can you clarify this issue for us? Can you attest as to how the actions of strangers would never impact on the outcome of a secret family court hearing?
I note you have already briefly referred to #justice4s campaign. You mention the ‘mistaken belief’ that some of her supporters have that using a ‘s’ to denote ‘samantha’ legally negates the fact that the tag is for Samantha. I don’t think it was a mistaken belief. I think it was outright ignorance. It’s hardly surprising! Law. Reporting restrictions law. Defamation law ( I note you suggest that some people tweeting about the case need a crash course on this – can you suggest a link?). Family law. Any type of law is in fact so specialist that we defer to lawyers. Thank goodness we have a charity set up especially to navigate such complex and skilled subjects.
Mothers In Law.