I’m starting to count the number of times that the early morning news contains the words ‘The Prime Minister will tell business leaders today’ or ‘George Osborne is expected to announce’; I’m counting as a means of stopping myself hurling things at the radio or television. There are only so many times a week you can replace a TV set.
“News”, I used to screech, “I want you to tell me the news, not what you think might happen – I want to know what has happened.”
It used to be that they followed up these speculative announcements with a shorter version of what really happened a few days later. They don’t bother any more. Now we just get the lurid breathtaking allegation from one party, and possibly a ‘correction and clarification’ down at the bottom of page 16 weeks later.
For those of you who don’t know, both the Guardian and the Daily Mail have now issued apologies to Huw Wheldon’s family for claiming that ‘he groped incontinently’ whilst working at the BBC. Huw Weldon died in 1986. The article now reads ‘Malcolm Muggerridge groped incontinently’. He died in 1990 – but no apology to him or his family for a similarly worded claim made by Jean Seaton in the media…does Malcolm Muggerridge not have a similarly offended family? Will there be a further correction?
Last week we had a series of headlines:
‘It’s shocking social workers have the power to rip a family apart’
‘David & Goliath battle for little girl’.
‘MPs back Gran, 58, branded too old too adopt’.
Grandparents claim granddaughter 3 put up for adoption by council ‘because they’re too old’.
As ever – check the small print. Here is a copy of District Judge Hodges’ judgment.
The family was already ‘ripped apart’. The child’s mother had suffered a ‘longstanding mental health problem’, and had an ‘unhappy and dysfunctional childhood’ which had a ‘negative impact upon her parenting capacity’. She was vehemently opposed to her daughter being brought up in the same atmosphere.
It could be that her claims of a dysfunctional childhood were borne of her perception of her childhood viewed through the prism of mental illness. But hark, what is this? It seems that the grandmother also has mental health issues and is on constant medication. The grandfather apparently felt that ‘now he was retired’ he would be able to cope with two female mentally ill women and a three year old girl. No help was forthcoming from the father who has a string of serious convictions.
Notwithstanding all that, the grandparent’s views as portrayed by the media were expressed after the mother had said her final goodbyes to her daughter, after the daughter had been given appropriate information about her forthcoming new home, and was apparently quite content that she was going to have new parents. Had the Judge sanctioned an appeal at this late stage, one little girl would have been very confused by the sudden change of plans.
It has become fashionable in the media to knock social services, to portray all family courts as uncaring machines that exist only to snatch children from their Mother’s breast, or the grandmother’s kindly arms. Headlines such as these only pander to the same rabble rousers in society who wish us to believe that every street, every avenue in Britain, contains at least one blood drinking, devil worshipping, baby skinning group of individuals.
For it is a curious fact that many of the people who foment a belief in satanic abuse are the very same people who campaign against social services and ‘forced adoption’. I am at a loss to understand where exactly these ‘at risk’ children are to be placed? The internet is littered with sites using graphics such as the one above, promoting the idea that the state is ripping children away from blameless apple-pie making moms and pops on spurious grounds; the lack of insight from those who comment on such sites would be amusing if there was not a child’s future at stake.
‘Corrupt social workers are threatening to steal my baby […] my first son died when I left him in the care of a partner, and my daughter went into care when I was in prison for manslaughter’.
‘I have four children in care, but now I have a new relationship and social workers say I can’t keep my baby’.
I am even more at a loss to understand why the media are so willing to publish alarmist comments and allegations before the proven facts – the news – is available, and then do nothing to correct the impression they have given. There is nothing stopping journalists sitting in the family courts and hearing the actual evidence – true, they cannot identify parties, but they can avail themselves of the facts and not rely on quotes from the anonymous disgruntled ‘losers’ in these cases.
Hands up if you spot a newspaper article reflecting the actual reasons why this little girl’s long term interests were put before the wishes of the adults.