MP under fire for saying abuse-case parents should flee the country

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An MP has been criticised for urging parents suspected of child abuse to flee the country rather than face justice in the Family Courts “because you can’t rely on the evidence being fair”.

John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley who is chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group, said he has been contacted by hundreds of parents who claim they have been unfairly targeted by social services.

He tells tonight’s Panorama, which investigates four cases where parents say their babies have been unfairly taken from them on the basis of controversial medical evidence, he believes parents cannot expect a fair hearing when the Family Courts decide whether their children should be taken into care.

But charity Family Rights Group, slammed Mr Hemming’s comments, which is claimed was “ignorant and potentially dangerous”.

Mr Hemming told the programme in such cases “all the cards are held by the local authority”. 
“It has large resources to fight the cases, it does all the assessments,” the Liberal Democrat MP said.

“My advice to people if they can afford it is just to go abroad. You can’t get a fair trial here, because you can’t rely on the evidence being fair. It’s best simply to go if you can, at the right time, lawfully.”

The BBC1 programme says that last year local authorities made a record 10,000 applications to take children into care, leading to claims that social workers may be overreacting in the wake of cases such as that of Baby P.

But the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, which looks after the interests of children in family proceedings, said more youngsters are being protected.