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Stop press - Howard's hypocrisy

August 09, 2004 Times

Howard blames fathers
By Helen Rumbelow

MICHAEL HOWARD will set out the Conservatives¹ new policy on crime tomorrow,
calling on fathers to stop abdicating responsibility for errant boys.

The Conservative leader will speak in Middlesbrough after meeting Ray
Mallon, the town¹s Mayor, the former police superintendent who pioneered the
³zero tolerance² approach to crime in Britain.

Mr Howard is expected to say that many factors have led to the breakdown of
law and order, but ³most damaging of all has been the dramatic decline in
personal responsibility². He singles out fathers and says they should have
more involvement with their sons.

Campaigners Welcome Howard's Stance on Parents

By Alex Thompson, PA News

Campaign group Fathers4Justice today welcomed Tory leader Michael Howard¹s
support for giving parents equal access to their children after splitting

The Tory leader underlined his party¹s belief that children, and boys in
particular, benefited from a male influence in their lives, during a speech
in Middlesbrough today.

To highlight his comments, two members of the campaign group, dressed as
Batman and Robin, have taken up residence on scaffolding erected outside
Birmingham County Court.

Jason Hatch, 32, and 48-year-old Dave Pike, from Gloucester, were sheltering
under a tarpaulin from the torrential rain on the Bull Street structure.

Their campaign banner stated: ³This court is under new management².

In a statement, Fathers4Justice founder Matt O¹Connor said he welcomed Mr
Howard¹s comments.

He said: ³We wholeheartedly welcome the Conservatives¹ important initiative
on this issue, in particular their linking of fatherlessness with the
explosion in young offending since the introduction of the 1989 Children

³One in four teenagers is now a criminal and the cost to the country
according to the Audit Office was £10 billion last year.²

NEW rights for divorced dads were promised by both Labour and the Tories yesterday.

(Sic – our rights as fathers are already enshrined in law, please don’t remind the Government and their judicial stooges that we have the sex discrimination Act 1975, articles 3,6,8,14 and 17 HRA 1998 and article 13 ECHR, and other laws to protect us equally as women who make mothers! Guess what, they have just admitted open discrimination…..watch this space)!
Children's Minister Margaret Hodge wanted "sanctions" against mothers who refuse to let fathers see children.
And Tory leader Michael Howard called for parents to automatically have equal access.
The moves come after pressure from divorced dads in the Fathers 4 Justice pressure group.
Ms Hodge said she was "saddened" the issue was becoming party political and insisted courts were not "institutionally unfair" to fathers with nine out of 10 families sorting out access by agreement.
But Mr Howard said a law change was vital to ensure parents did not lose touch with children.

12 July, 2004

"Howard backs shared parenting rights"

Michael Howard has called on the government to introduce shared parenting rights. During a Conservative summit on family issues, the Tory leader urged ministers to combat the "absolute gender bias'' in custody cases. The summit has been designed to confront "the failures in the family law system and the issue of legal contact with children for parents and grandparents after a relationship breaks down".

Howard was backed by Theresa May, the Conservatives' first dedicated shadow minister for the family. The Conservative leader told delegates that "the best parent is both parents'', even after divorce. "The statistics on family breakdown have grown all too familiar. In 1961, there were just 27,000 divorces," said Howard. "In 2001, there were 160,000. Today divorce affects almost 150,000 children every year, more than two thirds of whom are under the age of ten. "Our courts are not just dealing with the financial aspects of family breakdown - they are also involved in trying to ensure that children have ongoing contact with both parents and the extended family."

Howard said that children "need to have contact with their mothers and fathers if at all possible". "The Conservative approach is founded in our belief that when families break down both parents - and their families - should have access to their children if at all possible," he explained. "We believe that in family disputes the courts should be the last, not the first, resort for parents who separate. Mediation should as far as possible always be the first step.

"We believe that there should be a strong presumption in favour of equal rights for parents to have an influence on the upbringing of their children. "The absence of such a presumption has meant that parents with residence have found it far easier to obstruct the other parent’s access to their children and their ability to have a say in how those children are brought up. We must redress that imbalance."

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