Home » Featured, Opinion

A new must-read book

1 September 2014 214 views No comments

This must be one of the best books I have ever read on any subject. If you read nothing else this year make sure you read:

An exercise in absolute futility
Whatever happened to family justice

Nick Langford combines an academic researcher’s intellectual rigour with personal experience, as a father who could not believe his own eyes and ears as he stumbled for the first time into the madness which is family law. In his own words:
“this book tells a tale that has never before, I think, been told. It is the story of the abuse by the state of its citizens: of ordinary families – fathers, mothers and their children.”

He traces the history of law and societal changes from Plato through to the present day, without ever making it dull. Who would have thought, for example, that Baroness Hale, who is now deputy president of the Supreme Court, and who was the architect of the Children Act 1989, likened herself and her clique of cronies to the Mad Hatter’s tea party; she has a caricature of them hanging in her home! She designated 3 of the group as Tweedledum, Tweedledee and the March Hare. She saw herself as Alice! You couldn’t make it up!

One stumbles across memorable quotes and passages on almost every page. Take this one for example: towards the start of the book:
“the operation of family justice in the UK has been and continues to be a 50 year social experiment which has taken children as its test subjects… The public was never consulted about this; we were never asked if we wanted our families torn apart, if we wanted this unprecedented, irresistible intrusion of a relentlessly expanding state into areas which had previously been private: this rape of the family.”

The book begins with a powerfully emotive prelude, written by Karen Woodall, describing her reuniting of a father with his son after 4 years. The passage ends:
“the boy put his arms around his dad’s neck and said, “I love you dad, I missed you.” It was almost more than any of us in the room could bear.
I wish I could say this case was rare. I can’t.
I wish I could say that this man had been prevented from being with his son because he was violent, dangerous and abusive. I can’t, because he was none of those things.”

Langford does not leave us forever in Wonderland. He ends with a vision of how the madness could end. I won’t spoil it for you, but radical change is not without its supporters. I’ll leave you with this quote from the recently retired judge Sir Paul Coleridge:

“ If I were to call it “3 strikes and you are out” it sounds antediluvian and insensitive but something like it, perhaps, should be the norm in the interests of clarity for all separated parents. In other words if an order is disobeyed, say, 3 times the residence of the child should normally be transferred to the other parent.”


Ray Barry

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.