Over the weekend, we noted that legal experts Sarah Phillimore, Giles Peaker (@NearlyLegal on Twitter), and Julie Doughty had taken Sabine and Belinda’s legal guru, John Hemming, to task about his strange and incorrect beliefs in a rollicking Twitter conversation.
The drubbing continued for another 24 hours over the weekend of 14–15 May, and at first we thought we’d try to fit the actual tweets into this post so that our readers could join in the fun, at least retroactively and vicariously.
However, like a spreading forest fire, it quickly grew out of hand as various legal experts jumped in and tried to explain to Hemming why his head appeared to be stuck up his nether orifice. Oh, and he had his facts wrong, too.
We realised it would be very difficult to create a meaningful, comprehensible tweet synopsis, so we’re making do with a few links and comments, helpfully provided by commenters on this blog.
Giles Peaker went to the trouble of writing a blog post on the matter:
Mr Hemming remains undeterred from making accusations without any evidence, indeed he is still making the same accusation about joint experts.
But today’s fresh accusation was that any lawyer (solicitor or barrister) who acted for a local authority on a case would then be in a conflict of interest position if they subsequently acted for someone else against the local authority, unless with specific informed consent of all of the parties.
Yes, really. Here is Mr Hemming’s explanation, based on a ‘reading’ of Bar Standards Board Code (and the SRA Code).
I had done my best to explain why this was wrong, even as he groped his way to grasping the wrong end of the stick, but to no avail. Of course, this means that Mr Hemming’s post is inaccurate from the very first line.
Here’s Ministry of Truth’s collection of posts about Hemming; we particularly recommend the first, as an excellent explanation of why the ‘adoption quotas’ woo just doesn’t hold up outside Tin-foil Hat Land.
Hemming himself tried to post a rationale for his unusual interpretation. The comments are well worth a read.
And for a backgrounder on where Hemming’s views on adoption and children in care originated, we send you back in time, to this 2007 piece from The Guardian.
Who cares what Hemming thinks?
For anyone who might wonder why we’re going into such detail about the opinions of an ex-MP, Sarah Phillimore sums it up very well:
The damage Hemming has done is immense.
He has been at the forefront of a push for the rights of parents to be enforced above and beyond any other consideration.
Of course parents have rights as human beings – they have Article 8 rights to respect for their family rights and Article 6 rights to a fair trial. What they don’t have are ‘rights’ to abuse children without consequence.
Hemming’s way of operating is to create fear by repeating things which are lies. Which he must know are lies. He goes on television, radio, YouTube, attends conferences. Breaks bread with every single one of the really nasty conspiraloons. And traded on his status as a Member of Parliament.
He has just enough intelligence to jump ship when things get really hot – note his withdrawal as ‘patron’ to [the Knight Foundation] in January 2015.
His activities, I am quite sure, have contributed to our present mess where we cannot have rational debate about the child protection system.
That he is someone European politicians will talk to seriously in their ‘fact finding’ mission to London in November 2015 makes me feel sick. The Wall LJ judgment was 2008! How can he have any shred of credibility? But apparently he does.
And I am quite sure where we end up is here http://m.hertsdirect.org/docs/pdf/h/hscbscrfinrep.pdf
In the Wall LJ judgement Sarah refers to, paragraph 88 reads:
88. I find it not only unacceptable but shocking, that a man in Mr Hemming’s position should feel able to make so serious an allegation without any evidence to support it. In my judgment, it is irresponsible and an abuse of his position. Unfortunately, as other aspects of this judgment will make clear, it is not the only part of the case in which Mr Hemming has been willing to scatter unfounded allegations of professional impropriety and malpractice without any evidence to support them.
In reference to this case, in which Hemming acted as a McKenzie friend, Sarah points out:
One thing you will note from the Wall LJ judgment is that he never mentions children. He never seems to consider what it might be like for them to have a parent who – for e.g. – tries to convince them their dad abused them. It’s all about his rage at the interfering State who won’t let parents just crack on and do whatever they hell they like.
Now, who else do we know who takes Hemming’s approach to child welfare? (Sabine, Belinda, and Maggie, we’re looking at you.)