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A cautionary lesson: the Vicky Haigh and Liz Watson judgments

Sir Nicholas Wall has published his judgments in these cases involving Vicky Haigh, the woman John Hemming named in Parliament as a potential “secret prisoner” back in April after she spoke at a public meeting about the court case involving her child, and Elizabeth Watson, the woman who wrote e-mails and articles on the web in support of Ms. Haigh, and who made serious and false allegations against the father of the child.

Here’s the judgment in Doncaster v Haigh; and here’s Doncaster v Watson. Vicky Haigh has been barred for two years under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 from making any Children Act application relating to her child, X, without the court’s permission; Liz Watson was jailed for nine months for contempt of court.

I won’t quote extensively from the judgments: I simply recommend you read them in full if you’re interested in John Hemming’s campaigning about family justice – especially “The Information” Sir Nicholas publishes as an addendum his judgment in the Haigh case, and which consists of the core information regarding the case which he ruled should now be put in the public domain.

What’s clear from the Vicky Haigh judgment is that she was found by a judge in 2010 to have coached her child into making false allegations of sexual abuse against her father, in order to obstruct the father’s contact with the child. At paragraph 6 of “The Information” published with the Doncaster v Haigh, we’re told that

The consequence, the Judge concluded, was that X had repeatedly incurred unnecessary and ‘potentially distressing’ intrusions into her life by professionals. The allegations had resulted in a cessation of X’s contact to her father and the process had, in this way, been emotionally harmful to her.

At para. 12 of Doncaster v Haigh, Sir Nicholas Wall explains that

Miss Haigh has not been able to accept the findings of either judge. What renders the case unique, however, is that Ms Haigh, aided and abetted by one Elizabeth Watson, is not only unable to accept the judges’ findings but has put into the public domain the false allegations that she has not had justice and that X, contrary to both judges’ findings, has been sexually abused by her father. Those allegations have been posted on the worldwide web and are in the public domain. In addition, the mother has circulated the allegations to the parents of X’s school and to Mr. Tune’s fellow employees at his place of work. All this, of course, has been done illicitly and in breach of orders of the court.

Sir Nicholas tells us the police have had to be called to X’s school on occasions when Vicky Haigh had been there.

He was invited by Doncaster council to “deprecate the use of parliamentary privilege” by John Hemming MP “on the basis of inaccurate and misleading information supplied to him” – but rightly, Sir Nicholas declined. Parliamentary privilege and its abuse is exclusively a matter for Parliament, and what John Hemming said cannot be questioned in the courts. That’s why it’s so important MPs themselves properly scrutinise his conduct.

At paragraph 5o of the Liz Watson judgment Sir Nicholas says

.. this case demonstrates .. the dangers of partisanship. The mother and Ms. Watson think they are right and that everyone else is wrong and, moreover, everyone who is wrong is also corrupt. Such an unbalanced view is likely to do grave harm to the child. The fact that Ms. Watson has quite unlawfully put the matter in the public domain is very worrying and, in my view, gravely exacerbates the contempt which she has undoubtedly committed. Anyone who receives a partial account, be they a campaigner or journalist, should appreciate that the account is precisely that; it is partial. In family proceedings it is likely to be tendentious.

At one point Sir Nicholas calls Liz Watson’s case a “cautionary lesson”. So it is.

John Hemming, apparently carried away by his own partisanship for Vicky Haigh, chose to draw very public attention to the case at a time when much of the media was concerned about “superinjunctions”, and both before and after his intervention, some journalists and bloggers made a connection between his naming Vicky Haigh and “superinjunctions”. How anyone came to make that connection, we can only speculate of course.

This, let’s remember, is what he said on his blog after naming Vicky Haigh:

My objective was to identify the parties in the Vicky Haigh / Doncaster case where Doncaster tried to Jail Vicky for talking in Parliament.

All the other details of the story are in the public domain, but an injunction prevented the parties being identified.

Later, in comments here, he said

.. the point about her name being known publicly is that those people who know here (which is a lot) can then check whether they think the state is at fault or not.

In response, I asked:

I wonder what on earth you meant when you said

the point about her name being known publicly is that those people who know here (which is a lot) can then check whether they think the state is at fault or not.

What could you possibly have meant, except that they could now search for any “information” there is about the case on the internet?

I put that question to him again and again, but don’t think I received an answer.

No doubt John Hemming would categorically deny any intention to aid Liz Watson in her utterly wrong-headed and harmful internet campaign. But as Unity has said at Ministry of Truth,

whether he realised it or not at the time, Hemming’s statement appears to have helped to facilitate the actions for which Elizabeth Watson has .. been committed to prison for nine months.

Objectively speaking, John Hemming’s intervention, by enabling more people than otherwise could do so to search the internet and find Liz Watson’s writings on the case, must have helped the spread of her falsehoods and risked further harm to a child – never mind the rule of law. To anyone who cares about Parliament, this episode is a matter of real concern. I hope MPs look seriously into it.

By the way, Liz Watson has now purged her contempt, and been released from Holloway prison. Her sentence is suspended.


  1. This is a misleading article and I require a correction and retraction of the false statements contained in it. Firstly, I HAVE NEVER HAD, NOR LED, ANY ‘INTERNET CAMPAIGN’ ON THIS CASE. I am an investigator, not a campaigner. This is a major misconception that is being bandied about in the blogosphere. Any careful examination of the facts will reveal that the ‘campaigning was done by Sabine mcNeill, who is living most of the time outside of the jurisdiction in Germany, which seems to be shielding her. This is a gross and unjust situation where I have been blamed for what OTHERS have campaigned – and I and my lawyers pressed Ms McNeill to remove all reference to the case. I had nothing to do with what she had published and campaigned, and I intend to get this misconception corrected, and await your apology over these false accusations.

    Anyone who has examined the files will recognise that I did NOT spread any “falsehoods” – the fact is that some emails I had written to my PRIVATE network during the course of my investigations, were taken and published involving a breach of copyright, without my consent or knowledge or permission: I reiterate that I was not the Publisher of the said blogs, particularly the ‘Victims Unite’ blog which I disagreed with when it was first set up, and I pressed Sabine McNeill to remove all the postings on it. I had NO WEBSITE or blog of my own concerning this case – those who were culpable have not been challenged yet, it would seem, instead I have paid the price for their indiscretions. Things are not as they have been reported. The Truth may eventually come out, I hope it will: a parliamentary debate and a Public Enquiry are both urgently needed into this case. I merely wrote a report for the Doncaster police on facts, all of which were evidenced in the files. My opinion on any of it is immaterial, at the end of the day, but facts ought to speak for themselves (though they do not appear to have done so yet, on this case), and it seems a bit ironic that the ‘Finding of fact’ hearing of January 2010 on the case involved 6 to 8 key witnesses being removed from it just beforehand – why isn’t this being reported?

  2. Again, Carl, I do not HAVE “an internet campaign” and never have had! You need to get your facts right before publishing such things.
    And by the way, my ‘sentence’ was revoked – and I was given “an unconditional and immediate discharge” on 6 October since the President admitted he had been ‘wrong in Law’ and had no jurisdiction.
    I wish you had familiarised yourself with the FACTS on this case before sounding off with misleading comments – your perceptions are entirely flawed, and instead of honest and truthful reporting, you have become a part of the problem.

  3. As someone who has followed Child Protection cases and having read (with an open mind) the case mentioned here, it strikes me that the investigation was not very well handled to begin with. I’m not a fan of Justice Wall as I think he has made some horrendous decisions.

    In the Case of Mark & Nicky Webster, Wall’s comments defy all logic, and ethics. Essentially, he might have said “Madelyn McCann has been found but we have decided to leave her with her kidnappers as she has settled in nicely with them”. God forbid we should cause distress to the adoptive “parents”, what about Websters?

    The proliferation of “Anti-Family Court” and “Anti Social Services” websites in recent years is justified because of the secrecy and incompetence that apparently exists. Even judges have spoken out against this evil system using terms such as ” Kafka-esque, Draconian” and other phrases that might be normally reserved for organizations such as the Stasi, Nazi Party, KGB, Murder Incorporated and the CIA. If there is nothing illegal or corrupt occurring, then why cant we open up these cases, especially the Haigh Case, as it is already in the public domain? Let’s do a proper, independent investigation of this and the Musa case which have been well documented in the media and websites.

    Does it not strike anyone as illegal, the fact that if someone is found not-guilty or is in fact vindicated in a Criminal Court or not even charged with a crime, that they will still be punished in a Family Court, guilty or not? Is it legal that a person can be tried in two separate courts for the same alleged offense? and that the burden of proof is mere suspicion, that something may or may not happen at some point in the future? Is it Justice that the most severe punishment imaginable, that children are removed and placed for adoption against the parents wishes on the mere word of one “Expert”? and that the “offending” parents can lose their child without having been convicted of a crime?

    I have never been harmed by this system and I have no children but I have assisted families affected by this and I have seen many injustices take place. I have always had a keen interest in Human and Civil Rights and this subject is fraught with abuses.

    I have spent many days looking at statistics of CAFCAS and find it astonishing that when the Labour Government of Tony Blair (22 MP’s who were Social Workers) started paying bonuses of hundreds of millions to Local Authorities to “meet Adoption Targets”, that the numbers of “white & healthy” babies being taken into “Care” increased dramatically and were adopted while the numbers of “less desirable” children being adopted decreased just as dramatically. The numbers in the USA of African American, Hispanic, Asian and Disabled children INCREASED during the time the US Federal Govt. paid higher bonuses for “less desirable” children to be adopted.

    Without looking at any of the “Anti SS or Family Court” websites, there is much that can be learned and casts a lot of suspicion on the whole topic of the Child “Protection” Industry, the only growth industry left in the UK. In a major study at MIT by Joseph Doyle with a sampling size of 15,000 children over a 12 year period, Doyle found that “Care” is extremely damaging to children, so why is it that the numbers of children being taken into “Care” have almost doubled in a decade? The numbers of Criminal convictions for Child Abuse or Neglect haven’t doubled, the population hasn’t doubled, what is the justification for this?

    I would highly recommend [redacted – Carl. I don’t want to publicise this website unecessarily.] ran by Ian Josephs, an Oxford Law Graduate who has been working on this issue since the 1960’s. He has also represented many families in court as a Lay Litigant and a McKenzie Friend. He has also instructed many people to flee the UK to avoid Social Services Injustices. Almost 100% of these people have been investigated in other countries and no issues were found by Social Services in Ireland, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway and other countries. Google the case of Fran Lyon and see why people are suspicious.

    The UK used to be the great bastion of Democracy, where freedom of speech was prised above all, now it appears that New Labour is using George Orwell’s Novel “1984” as a blueprint for engineering society. Jack Straw recently introduced legislation which even prevents children in “Care” speaking out, if if they feel they are being abused. The Police can apparently get away with murder and have more weapons and more sophisticated weapons that British Troops in Afghanistan many of whom don’t have Bullet Proof Vests. The UK have more Police Surveillance cameras than the rest of the World put together and to travel into or out of the UK you have to be subjected to an immoral search at the airport, children included.

    Every day I wake up I give thanks that I do not live in the UK and am not a UK Citizen, I will never visit the UK again. Take away John Hemming and Tim Yeo’s Parliamentary Privilege and you will indeed be living “1984”, I’m glad I don’t have to.


    Joe Burns
    Republic of Ireland

  4. “Carl Gardner December 15, 2011 at 16:10”
    “I would certainly not recommend Ian Joseph’s website.”

    Why not Carl? Everything Ian says is verifiable, no conspiracy needed. When you see how much money is being made on the misery of others you have Motive, Means and Opportunity.

    What about what the Govt’s adviser on Adoption Martin Neary said to the BBC, that the Govt. only get it wrong in about 1% to 2% of the time. He said this in relation to John Hemmings estimate that 1000 cases of Forced Adoption are miscarriages of justice.

    By Neary’s estimate, 30 to 60 children are wrongly adopted every year. That’s 30 to 60 Miscarriages of Justice a year, and that’s according to the Govt’s leading expert on Adoption.

    Ian Josephs knows this topic better than anyone I know, he has been in the courts with the parents, as have Tim Yeo and John Hemming.

    Would you care to comment on some other points I have made?

  5. Thanks Carl, I don’t mean to be rude either and have nothing against anyone. I take the point made in this article and understand the position of the author.

    The general assumption by most people is that the Family Court is a fair process and that the decisions are not made lightly. I think there is also the view that if a few innocent parents and children are harmed in the process, then this “collateral damage” is acceptable, and that, this is the price that must be paid to protect children. I don’t subscribe to that view, child abuse is child abuse and injustice to one is injustice to all whether it’s done by the State or others.

    I also firmly believe that this will all backfire on everyone very soon. The “Experts” seem to forget that children will grow up and become adults and it’s those adults who will call the system to account. It happened to the Catholic Church and will happen to the UK, the only country in Europe which allows children to be adopted against a parents wishes. The only country with video surveillance in peoples homes, the only country with a database of “soft” information on people from birth to death. If my country did that I would rebel.


    Joe Burns.

  6. Carl can be forgivenfor his not wanting to comment – after all he formerly worked for the former Attorney General Goldsmith – so obviously Carl knows where his bread is buttered. So allow him his conflict of interest – its his site and its in the courts where ‘objectivity’ really is “SUPPOSED” to happen …. what says you Carl …

  7. @ Master Steve, The vast majority of the people who work in Justice and the Child “Protection” System are honest, decent human beings. They firmly believe in the system and that, for the most part, that it works. You have to differentiate between “evil-deeds” and “evil-people”.

    I’ve tried raising debate with people, I’m not looking for a fight, I just want to openly debate issues with people. I’m wrong sometimes but I will openly admit it. It took me a long time to understand why people wont debate with me or others who don’t toe-the-party-line.

    The Catholic Church used the same tactic, “just ignore it and it will go away”. Of course it didn’t go away and the result was the ruination of the Institution of the Church. Now almost bankrupt, morally as well as financially, it used to be the single most powerful organization in the world.

    When the fall of the UK Child “Protection” System and with it the Justice System happens, they will all jump ship and try to distance themselves from their role in it. Getting involved in the debate shows which side their bread is buttered so it’s best not to say anything. Better off to sell your soul to the highest bidder and say nothing.

    The last remark is not aimed at Carl, I’m using the term generally. Carl can choose to publish our comments or not, to his credit he has allowed us the opportunity to speak.

    Children have been used as the “fuel” to operate this unjust system and they seem to forget that children grow up. It’s these children who will bring the system down. When the Webster children turn 18 and find out what Wall and others have done to them, then we will see who was right. There are already a flood of lawsuits in the USA, a few in Ireland and there will be many in the UK, brought about by the Victims, the children involved.

    If Vicky Haigh had in fact [Note: this passage appears to discuss details of the Vicky Haigh case. I don’t think it’s in the public interest for it to be published here – Carl].

    Hemming was absolutely right to use whatever legal means possible to expose this and other cases. If nothing else he successfully created the seeds of doubt about the system and Wall’s attempts didn’t help the system either, his comments left me with more questions than answers.

    Carl, you can censor Ian Josephs website but open minded people want to know, it’s healthy to not believe everything you read and have an open mind. Censorship only makes people more determined and curious about what is being hidden. Debate is also healthy, but of course, only in a Democracy.


    Joe Burns

  8. I am flattered that Carl “does not recommend my [redacted – Carl] website”.What better recommendation could anyone have than that?
    In Vicky Haigh’s case Wall relied entirely on a previous judgement which he promised would be published but never was ![redacted – Carl] All this is in the public domain so please do not delete it ! [Whether it’s in the public domain or not, I doubt it’s in the public interest or a child’s interest for what you said in this sentence to be here; and I’ll decide what goes on my website, as you decide what’s on yours – Carl]
    Vicky was never charged with perverting the course of justice by coaching her daughter, just found in a civil family court of doing so on the balance of probabilities,ie 51% .
    Well we all know that if social services say one thing and a parent says the other then the probability is that the judge will in the absence of proof one way or the other favour the “SS”.So what chance did she have?
    One day parents will as formerly (before the “SS” began) only be punished ,losing their children, for comitting a crime,and I don’t mean for saying hello to a child accidentally met at a petrol station! What sort of mother would have ignored her daughter face to face in those circumstance even if there was a court injunction in place?
    Does anyone sincerely believe a mother (or father in similar circumstances) deserves 3 years jail for that?

  9. You just invoked Godwin I think, Ian, with your references to the “SS”, by which you must mean local authority children’s services departments.

  10. Ian, I know I risk prolonging this debate but my understanding of the trial in December at which Vicky Haigh was convicted is that she pleaded not guilty and the jury convicted her. So beyond doubt she is guilty of breaching the non molestation order. That should be emphasised – it wasn’t a no contact order. Whatever she did, it was an act of molestation. Furthermore, the jury .. [redacted – Carl] must have been satisfied so that they were sure .. [redacted – Carl] Why do you think you know so much better than they did?

  11. Jonathon,I NEVER claimed Vicky was ‘not guilty’, only that the offence did not merit 3 years in prison. [redacted – Carl] .. Forbidding .. [redacted – Carl] .. any .. [redacted – Carl] .. non violent mother(or father) from any kind of contact (even supervised) is in my opinion “a crime against humanity” and a disgrace to the family courts obssessed with their own dignity.Contrast this with the example of baby P’s mother’s surviving children visiting her in jail !Too many non violent mothers (and fathers) who have fallen foul of the “SS” have been jailed for breaching so called non molestation orders by waving to their children in the street ,sending them an Xmas card,or ringing a front door bell ……[redacted – Carl]

    Note from Carl: I’ve allowed enough of this comment to show you reject what Jonathan said. I won’t publish anything that purports to give details of this case involving a child, though. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s in the public interest, and I won’t allow this blog to become a forum for the sort of discussion I think has been so harmful elsewhere. You may not like this, Ian, but I’ll decide what goes on my website, and you can decide what goes on yours.

  12. To: Jonathan James…
    Jonathan, you say “whatever she did it was an act of molestation” – this is wrong. Any court order can only stand up if it is validly brought, in accordance with proper court procedure and the rules of the court re a ‘fair hearing’ etc: .. [redacted – Carl] .. it is a miscarriage of Justice. [redacted – Carl]

    Note from Carl: I’ve allowed enough of this comment to show you reject what Jonathan said. I won’t publish anything that purports to give details of this case involving a child, though. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s in the public interest, and I won’t allow this blog to become a forum for the sort of discussion I think has been so harmful elsewhere. You may not like this, Liz, but I’ll decide what goes on my website, and you can decide what goes on yours.

  13. Carl
    contrary to what you may believe, no “falsehoods” have ever been spread, by me or anyone else. None of you are in any position to judge or assess this, becuase none of you have seen the hard evidence on the files – I have. In any event, I did not “spread” anything. I wrote a report for the police in a Chronology format, to get to the bottom of how .. [redacted – Carl] and the answer lays in that report, which, BTW, the police refused to read: so much for British “Justice”. What are the police so afraid of? Britian is now top of the League tables for corruption, much of it perpetrated by the failing 43 police forces …..look no further than this.

  14. Carl – with all of your unjust redactions, it is worse than the injunctions from the Family court which fly in the face of the Public Interest! You have no grounds for removing the FACTS that I gave in my last posting, which are that .. [redacted – Carl] .. It seems you are working for the courts?

  15. [redacted – Carl]

    Ian, it was this comment of yours which led to my interjection. My point was simply that this is not an accurate or fair representation of what the jury plainly found to be the case.

    [Note from Carl: I’m sorry, I should have redacted Ian’s purported reference to the details of this case, before you read it and responded, Jonathan. It’s difficult to spot everything before it gets through.]

  16. May I ask, Jonathan – how do you know all this if you weren’t there?
    [redacted – Carl] The human element can not be pushed aside, and should preside over all decisions. Let him who is perfect cast the first stone.

  17. I think attempted discussion here of the underlying child care case has gone too far. I’m closing comments. Jonathan, I’m sorry and I hope you understand. Liz, Ian – I’m not having on this blog the type of discussion you seem to want.

Comments are closed.


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