June 9, 2015, "Immigrants should be allowed to hit their children because there is a 'different cultural context', says High Court Judge," UK Daily Mail, Ian Drury
"Mrs Justice Pauffley made the comments after ruling in a case about custody of an eight-year-old boy whose parents had overstayed their visa."
‘In this instance...the boy did not appear to have suffered more than sadness and transient pain from what was done to him.’
Reacting to the comments, an NSPCC spokesman said last night: ‘Children need to be protected irrespective of cultural sensitivities. Different practices are no excuse for child abuse taking place in this country and the law doesn’t make that distinction.
‘Every child deserves the right to be safe and protected from physical abuse and the courts must reflect this.’
Under the Children’s Act 2004 it is illegal for parents to smack their children if blows cause bruising, swelling or cuts. Guilty parents can be jailed for up to five years. Mrs Justice Pauffley’s comments are controversial because they will revive memories of the sickening case of Victoria Climbie in 2000.
The eight-year-old, who came from Ivory Coast, was tortured and murdered by her great-aunt Marie-Thérèse Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning.
The official report castigated the authorities for failing to intervene, even though the child was suspected of being at risk.
Opening an inquiry into the youngster’s death in September 2001, Neil Garnham QC said the fear of being accused of racism may have led to inaction by police, social services and NHS staff.
In the hearings, social worker Lisa Arthurworrey, who is African-Caribbean, admitted that her assumptions about African–Caribbean families influenced her judgement, and that she had assumed Climbie’s timidness in the presence of Kouao and Manning stemmed not from fear, but from the African–Caribbean culture of respect toward parents.
Ratna Dutt of the Race Equality Foundation said at the time: ‘The implicit message is that it’s acceptable for ethnic minorities to receive poor services under the guise of superficial cultural sensitivity. This is absolutely shameful.’
Last night Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering, said: ‘We simply can’t have a situation where different rules apply to families from different backgrounds. The law of the land should apply equally regardless of the heritage of the children involved.
‘Children with Indian heritage deserve the same protection in law as white British children.
‘I really do wonder sometimes whether judges in our senior courts have adequate training for some of the cases that come before them.’
Mrs Justice Pauffley, sitting in the family division of the High Court in London, heard the boy’s parents met and married in India a decade ago. They travelled to Britain on a six-month visa but failed to return when the visas ran out and became ‘overstayers’, the court heard.
The husband was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his wife but was released on bail and told to stay away from her and the youngster. He then launched court litigation in October last year asking a judge to return the boy to his care.
The judge said she had been asked to make preliminary decisions about whether – on balance of probability – he had attacked his wife and son.
The boy made ‘physical assault allegations’ about his father and told investigators: ‘With his belt, he kind of hits me.’
Mrs Justice Pauffley said the man denied striking his son with a belt or otherwise. Asked to describe what he meant by a slap, the father said: ‘This was not to slap [the boy] badly but to keep him disciplined.’
The judge concluded the man had not physically abused his son but had subjected his wife to a ‘horribly aggressive and violent assault’ including strangling her.
Mrs Justice Pauffley gave no detail about the progress of any police investigation into that assault.
The 59-year-old, who has sat in the family division since 2003, has three stepchildren with her husband, whom she married in 2001."