30 Nov 21. The Family Practice Press welcomes the introduction of ‘Tony’s Law,’ but urges the introduction of ‘Harry’s Law.’
Tougher penalties for child cruelty through ‘Tony’s Law’
Child abusers will face more time behind bars after the Government confirmed plans to increase the maximum penalties for a range of cruelty offences.
- Government to deliver ‘Tony’s Law’
- Maximum punishments to increase for a range of child cruelty offences
- One of a series of new measures to be added to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to further protect the public
Under the changes, anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face up to life imprisonment – rather than the current 14-year maximum. The offences of causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child, and cruelty to a person under 16, will also incur tougher maximum penalties – increasing from 10 to 14 years respectively.
It follows the tireless campaigning of the family of Tony Hudgell to see longer sentences for these crimes. As a baby, Tony was left severely disabled after suffering abuse at the hands of his birth parents, who both received 10 years in prison. Ministers are determined to ensure punishments fit the severity of these horrific crimes and today confirmed amendments to deliver ‘Tony’s Law’ would be tabled to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Julian Nettelfold of the Family Practice Press said, “We welcome ‘Tony’s Law,’ particularly the clause which allows imprisonment for causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult to be raised from 14 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment. However, thousands of abusers are getting through the net by deliberate concealment of evidence by lawyers. If lawyers had not concealed evidence in my case my son Harry would still be alive and well today and free from the abuse of his mother.”
“I fought for years to put the truth before the Courts to get my son safe but every time I was thwarted by partisan judges and lawyers who continued to hide key evidence or refused to settle when their counsel suggested that was the way forward. To settle would mean the lawyer would lose the case. How sick to want to win a case at the expense of a child’s life”
“In 2007 Judge Grenfell said that ’there was no causal link between Harry’s Statement of Abuse to East Lothian Police in 1997 and Hodders’ alleged negligence.’ That was of course complete nonsense and only used to protect Hodders who I was suing. There was clear evidence of personality disorder and an abusive personality in my wife in 1990 which Hodders covered up. Personality Disorder is a long-enduring maladaption which is incurable”
“Only one Judge, Judge Wilcox saw the danger in 1996 and said, “Who’s looking after Harry?” Answer, no one as the cheque for £192,000 I had to write to the Solicitor’s Indemnity Fund in 2020 showed. They are still free to practice with impunity which means that more children will be abused and die and their abusers remain free.”
Details of my fight for Harry are in my forthcoming book ‘Trial By Deceit,’ which will be published next year.
Quite clearly Harry was let down badly by the system and we now call for immediate changes to the Family Law system for children under ‘Harry’s Law.’
These must include:
- Scrapping the ability of a woman to allege violence against her husband/partner and have him removed from the home. Domestic Violence is a crime and should be heard in the Criminal Court.
- The removal of all violence by the wife/partner should stop with immediate effect. Not only is this process unlawful, it allows violent women, such as my ex-wife to obtain custody of children and continue to abuse them.
- All Children Panel lawyers must be vetted and the Law Society prosecute any offenders. I had no recompense for Hodders using an untrained clerk, Hazel Crosthwaite, who caused Harry to be left with a violent woman.
- The use of Consent Orders that cannot be appealed be dropped.
- The Court must consider any new development in the health or illness of either party.
- All violence must be recorded and put to the Court.
- The use of ‘Experts,’ who don’t know either party, who make up diagnoses to suit the Court must end.
- All doctors involved in the case must be called as a matter of curse.
- No Expert can give either party a diagnosis without having seen his or her medical records and/or examined him or her.
- All scans and EEGs of the brain must be taken into account and considered as to the presence of a long-term maladaption which could damage the child into adulthood.
- If the party with the maladaption refuses to undergo treatment, and/or recognises the his or her actions then the other party has immediate custody with the other party having Supervised Contact until he or she agrees to undergo therapy.
- Any new Partner of either party should undergo a vetting process.
- CAFCASS should have people trained in Family Law and problems, not Civil Servants with no knowledge of any of the above.
- No child should be subjected to years of abuse from a mother with reported and proven violent tendencies.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said: “The law must provide maximum protection to the most vulnerable and no-one is more vulnerable than a young child. So, we are increasing the maximum penalty for child cruelty causing or allowing serious physical harm from 10 years to 14 years, and the maximum penalty for causing or allowing the death of a child from 14 years to life imprisonment.”
I pay tribute to the courage of young Tony Hudgell and his adoptive parents Paula and Mark.
Paula Hudgell Tony’s mum said: “We are delighted that Tony’s Law is being backed by the government. It’s been our hope since those who abused our son were jailed in 2018 that more could be done to protect other children, the most vulnerable members of our society. I can’t thank the public enough for the support they have shown through this nearly four year campaign, but especially thanks to Tom Tugendhat who has worked tirelessly with me, also my friend Julia Roberts a court reporter and my friends and family it was definitely a team effort.”
This is for Tony and all the babies and children that suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers.
Tony’s Law will increase the maximum penalties for child cruelty offences including:
- for causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult from 14 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment
- for causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child or vulnerable adult from 10 to 14 years’ imprisonment
- for cruelty to a person under 16 from 10 to 14 years’ imprisonment
Meanwhile, following an announcement last week, Ministers have today confirmed that plans to extend mandatory life sentences to anyone who kills an emergency worker whilst committing a crime would also be made via an amendment to the PCSC Bill. The move builds on recent government action to protect police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics and ensure those who seek to harm them feel the full force of the law. This includes plans to double the maximum penalty for assaulting them to two years’ imprisonment.
- The Government will table an amendment the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts to introduce tougher sentences for a range of for child cruelty offences to ensure punishments reflect the severity of these crimes.
- An amendment to deliver Harper’s law will also be tabled to the Bill. It will extend mandatory life sentences to anyone who kills an emergency worker whilst committing crime, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.
- Further amendments to the Bill will be set out in due course.
For further information contact:
Julian Nettlefold, Family Practice Press: (M) 077689 54766