The attached is the the Judgment to be handed down in Public at 10am on Friday 27lh April 2001
I intend to direct that no further note or transcript need be taken or made of the Judgment once delivered in final form
MR JUSTICE MUNBY
| Events to 31 March 2000 - contact
| Events to 31 March 2000 - injunctions and contempts
| Events from I April 2000 to 28 January 2001
| 29 January to 2 February 2001 : the hearing ; at Plymouth
| Events from 2 February to 21 March 2001
| 2 to 23 March 2001 : the adjourned hearing; in London
|IV Expert evidence
|V Some preliminary matters
| The mother
| The Official Solicitor
| Dr Cameron
| The youngest daughter's letters
| The father
| The mother's application for a specific issue order
|VII The Official Solicitor
|IX Grepe v Loam
- This judgment arises out of proceedings which I heard for five days in Plymouth from 29 January to 2 February 2001 and for a further two days in London on 22 and 23 March 2001. The whole of the hearing in Plymouth was in chambers; the hearing in London was in open court.
- On 22 March 2001 I handed down a draft judgment. That judgment, which in its final approved form contains a postscript dated 23 March 2001, is and will remain confidential to the parties. I shall refer to it as the Main Judgment. On 23 March 2001 I delivered in open court a further judgment, which I shall refer to as the Sentencing Judgment, explaining why it was that I was sentencing Mr Harris to a total of ten months' imprisonment for contempt of court. On 12 April 2001 I delivered, again in open court, a short judgment explaining why I was dismissing the application which Mr Harris had made to purge his contempt. I now, on 27 April 2001, deliver this fourth judgment, again in open court.
- During and at the conclusion of the hearing on 22 and 23 March 2001 I made a number of orders. The two most important are attached to this judgment. It will be seen that both orders contain certain fetters on what can be published about these proceedings. Since both this judgment and the Sentencing Judgment have been delivered in open court there is no bar on anyone publishing or disseminating in whatever manner they wish either the whole or any part of them. Anybody who wishes to do so, however, should be aware that both on 23 March 2001 and again to-day I have made a direction under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 prohibiting the publication of the names addresses or schools or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the children concerned in these proceedings. I make it clear for the avoidance of any doubt that neither of these directions is intended to prohibit
• the publication in full of this judgment (though not of the Sentencing Judgment inasmuch as it actually named the children and indicated the general location of their home) or
• the publication or public display, with or without a photograph of him, and whether in relation to this judgment or the Sentencing Judgment or otherwise, of Mr Harris's name (either in the form "Mark Harris" or "Mr Harris") and the fact that he comes from "Plymouth" or
• the publication or public display of any of the matters referred to either in paragraph 11 of the longer of the two orders or in paragraph (ii) of the proviso to paragraph 1 of the shorter of the orders.
- I am giving this judgment in open court for a number of reasons. First, the case is one which has generated a certain amount of public controversy and I believe that the public has a right to know the basis upon which I have arrived at my decision. Secondly, the case has at one time or another been promoted as a cause celebre both by Mr Harris and by a number of campaigning organisations, including Families Need Fathers (FNF), the Equal Parenting Council, until recently known as the Equal Parenting Party (EPP), the UK Men's Movement (UKMM), and a group set up by Mr Harris himself, Dads Against Discrimination (DADS). Anyone who chooses to browse the Internet will see that extensive reference is made to the case both on the EPP website, www.equalparenting.org and on the UKMM website, www.ukmm.org.uk. Reference to Mr Harris can also be found on the FNF website, www.fnf.org.uk. and, albeit not referring to him by name, on the website of the National Child Rescue Organisation, www.childrescue.org.uk. Mr Harris has cheerfully cast himself and allowed and encouraged others to cast him in the role of martyr. I believe that there is a public interest in the public knowing just what kind of people have sometimes attached themselves to these organisations and just what some of these organisations on occasions get up to. I believe there is a public interest in the members of these organisations knowing just how they have been bamboozled and cynically manipulated by a man, devoid of all moral scruple, who is singularly ill-suited either to assume the martyr's crown or to act as an ambassador for such organisations. There is also, in my judgment, a clear public interest in society knowing whether, now that they have adequate materials upon which to make an informed judgment, organisations such as FNF, EPP, UKMM and DADS any longer wish to associate themselves with Mr Harris's cause. Whether they do or not is, of course, entirely a matter for them, but it seems to me that the public - and, not least, the constituency of disgruntled fathers which these organisations claim to represent - are entitled to know just where these organisations stand on these issues. Accordingly, I propose to direct that copies of this judgment be sent to each of these organisations. Thirdly, there are parts of this judgment which consider a number of legal issues of no little importance, concerning as they do freedom of speech and, in particular, the right of citizens to criticise both the judicial system and individual judges. Finally, the delivery of a judgment such as this in public can, I hope, contribute to the ongoing debate as to whether, and if so to what extent, it continues to be appropriate for judgments in this Division to be given in private. For my part, and I emphasise that this is merely a personal view, this debate is far from over. Nor, speaking for myself, do I think that the debate will necessarily be concluded even though the European Court of Human Rights has held, in the cases that were recently before it ( B v United Kingdom , P v United Kingdom ), that existing practice complies with this country's obligations under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms .
- Parts I to IX of this judgment are a shortened and edited version of the Main Judgment, prepared for public consumption and deliberately, and necessarily, omitting matters which ought properly to remain confidential to the parties. As between the parties the Main Judgment of course remains definitive. In this judgment, as in the orders I have made, I have done my best to hold the proper balance between the public's right to know, underpinned by articles 6 and 10 of the Convention, and the parties', and particularly the children's, rights to privacy and respect for their private and family life, underpinned by article 8 of the Convention - something I return to at the end of the judgment. Inevitably, this has meant that parts of the material which led me to my conclusions have had to be omitted from the public version of the judgment. I trust that those who may have occasion to read this judgment will bear in mind that circumstances prevent their being made privy to all of the matters which I had to consider in coming to my decision.
- This is an immensely saddening case. It is also a tragedy - a tragedy all the more tragic because the outcome was, as it seems to me, unnecessary and almost entirely avoidable.
- It is in essence the story of a loving and devoted father and his three daughters. The daughters do not live with him following his divorce from their mother. Mother has residence. The daughters wanted and enjoyed contact with their father. That contact was supported by Dr Hamish Cameron, the eminent consultant child psychiatrist, and by the court. It was, as I find, in no significant way opposed or thwarted by the mother. But all three daughters have ended up opposed to and refusing to participate in contact. The virtually total breakdown of the relationship between the father and his daughters is not, in my judgment, the consequence of anything done or not done by the mother. It has in overwhelming part been brought about by Mr Harris himself. Therein lies the tragedy.
- All too often a child's non contact with the non-residential parent is brought about by the residential parents's opposition, opposition sometimes amounting to implacable hostility. Here there is, as I find, no such opposition and certainly no implacable hostility on mother's part. Here, as it seems to me, the non-residential father's estrangement from his daughters has been directly brought about by his own obstinacy, pig-headedness and blindness. Mr Harris is, if truth be told, the author of his own immense misfortune. He is also, even though he probably cannot recognise it, the cause of the blighting of his daughters' lives.
- In its essentials the case is very simple. It is a dispute about contact following a divorce. But as Thorpe LJ said, in a judgment which he delivered on 8 June 2000:
"Although it is, in essence, a very simple contact dispute which could perfectly well be dealt with in the Family Proceedings Court, it has been elevated to the High Court and a number of very experienced High Court judges have given it their anxious consideration, including Wilson J, Kirkwood J, Holman J and Bracewell J."
There is, as Thorpe LJ also observed, an enormous litigation history. Huge amounts of professional endeavour have been devoted to this dysfunctional family. As Butler-Sloss LJ had earlier remarked in a judgment delivered on 13 January 1998:
"It has been said more than once that this has been the most damaging battle waged between the parents seen by the courts for some years with direct and very serious effect upon all three children .... It is a very, very sad case and my heart goes out to these three children"
- I must, I fear, go through some at least of that history in due course in some detail. In order to set the scene I first sketch out some of the salient background.
- Mother and father married in 1986. He is Mark Harris, who was born in 1959; she was born in 1966. Their first daughter was born in 1986, their second daughter in 1989 and their third in 1991. The girls are now respectively, a little over 14, a1most 12 and almost 10 years old. The parents separated on 6 November 1993 when mother left the matrimonial home, taking the children with her. She petitioned for divorce on 9 November 1993. A decree nisi was granted on 12 August 1994. It was made absolute on 16 December 1994. By then mother had commenced a relationship with her present partner.
- Well before then there had started the contact and related disputes which have dogged this family ever since. Those proceedings, which I shall refer to as the Family Proceedings, were commenced in the County Court but were transferred to the High Court by an order made by His Honour Judge Wigmore on 14 April 1997.
- Mother lives with her three daughters and her partner in Plymouth. There has been a residence order in her favour ever since 23 November 1993. A further residence order in her favour was made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997. Mr Harris lives about 2½ miles away as the crow flies, also in Plymouth.
- There are four other participants in the Family Proceedings whom it is convenient to identify at this stage. The first is Plymouth City Council, which I shall refer to as Plymouth. Plymouth, with its predecessor Devon County Council, has been involved in one capacity or another since 1995. Until 11 March 1999, when Kirkwood J made an order discharging it from the proceedings, Plymouth was a party to the Family Proceedings. The second is the Official Solicitor, who has acted in the Family Proceedings as guardian ad litem to the three girls since 1997, having been brought into the proceedings as a result of the order of Hhj Wigmore dated 14 April 1997 to which I have already referred. The third is the well-known Consultant Child Psychiatrist, Dr Boothroyd Brooks, instructed by the Official Solicitor, who advised the Official Solicitor and gave evidence in 1997. The fourth is the equally well-known Consultant Child Psychiatrist, Dr Hamish Cameron, also instructed by the Official Solicitor, who has advised the Official Solicitor and given evidence since 1999.
- The Family Proceedings came on for hearing before me in Plymouth on 29 January 2001 and involved no fewer than seventeen applications, all save three being applications by Mr Harris. There were two applications by mother: an application by Notice of Motion dated 18 October 2000 seeking Mr Harris's committal for alleged breaches of (a) an order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997 and (b) an order, as subsequently varied, made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998; and an application dated 18 December 2000 for a specific issue order.
- There was also an application by Plymouth dated 26 January 2001 for injunctions against Mr Harris. That application was supported by an affidavit sworn by a senior manager at Plymouth who drew attention to a number of matters, including those referred to in paragraphs 171 and 179 below. Putting the matter shortly what Plymouth sought were injunctions restraining Mr Harris from harassing, pestering or threatening Plymouth's employees and, in particular, three named social workers.
- In addition to the Family Proceedings I also had in front of me an action commenced by the Attorney-General on 26 January 2001 which I shall refer to as the Attorney-General's Proceedings. Again putting the matter shortly what the Attorney-General sought were injunctions restraining Mr Harris from communicating with the Official Solicitor, Mr Oates, his caseworker, Mr Szulc, Dr Cameron or anyone else acting on behalf of or instructed by the Official Solicitor except at their official or business addresses and from approaching within half a mile of the private residences of Mr Oates, Mr Szulc and Dr Cameron.
- Prior to the hearing on 29 January 2001 I had on 30 October 2000 given comprehensive directions. One of the purposes of these directions was to ensure that there were included in the trial bundles, so that I could read them, all the materials which Mr Harris wished me to consider. I was anxious that, if the matter was to be heard at all, Mr Harris should not be denied the opportunity to put the whole of his case to the court, more particularly since, as I made clear at the time, this was, given the previous history of the litigation, in all probability the very last opportunity he would have for doing so.
- At the time all these applications were made Mr Harris was subject to orders under s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997 and by Bracewell J on 31 March 2000. It was common ground that, notwithstanding those orders, he did not require leave to make five of his applications. At the hearing on 30 October 2000 I gave him leave to pursue the other nine applications. I did so, having been referred to Thorpe LJ's judgment in Re A (Application for Leave)  1 FLR 1 , 4D, not because I was persuaded that there was any great merit in most of his applications but because, as I have said, I was anxious that, if the matter was to be heard at all, Mr Harris should not be denied the opportunity to put the whole of his case to the court.
- At the same time I made an order of my own motion that until the conclusion of the present hearing no party was to make any application to the court or commence any further proceedings without the prior leave of a Judge of the High Court. That order, which was expressed to be made "with a view to the just expeditious and fair resolution of the issues between the parties", was made in exercise of the inherent jurisdiction of the court to restrain abuse of its process.
- I have heard the Family Proceedings and the Attorney-General's Proceedings together, albeit that the hearing has, as I have said, been divided between Plymouth and London.
- For reasons which will become apparent in due course it is convenient to separate the history of events into a number of phases. I deal first with events down to the hearing before Bracewell J on 31 March 2000.
- The starting point is the judgment delivered by Wilson J on 7 November 1997. In relation to events prior to then I propose to say nothing further except insofar as is unavoidably necessary to enable me to determine, or to put in a proper context, those matters which I do have to decide.
- On the other hand it is, I think, important for me to deal in some detail with the history of events since Wilson J gave his judgment. Although scarcely three years have passed since then much has happened in the intervening period. Notwithstanding Wilson J's best endeavours and despite the s 91(14) order which, as I have already mentioned, he made on 7 November 1997, the litigation has continued with unabated ferocity. This part of my judgment will accordingly be long. It would be even longer if I were to set out, and I have not, details of every application which Mr Harris has made since Wilson J gave his judgment. There is no point in my doing so. Suffice it to say that for many years now the mother and the court have been bombarded with a blizzard of applications by Mr Harris, most of very little, if any, merit. To mix metaphors, proceedings have rained down on the mother like confetti.
- In summarising the history I propose to deal first with the history of contact and then with the history of what has aptly been described as the raft of injunctions which regulate relations between Mr Harris, the mother and the children.
Events to 31 March 2000 - contact
- I must first go back, however, to 14 April 1997 when the matter, then still proceeding in the County Court, came before HHJ Wigmore. He made an order for "no contact". Previously, pursuant to an order dated 17 December 1996, there had been fortnightly contact between the children and their father, supervised by the local authority. On Mr Harris's application HHJ Wigmore transferred the proceedings to the High Court. He also, as I have already mentioned, invited the Official Solicitor to represent the children.
- The matter came on for hearing before Wilson J on 21 July 1997. Then as subsequently the Official Solicitor was represented by Miss Wood of counsel. On 25 July 1997 the hearing had to be adjourned. It resumed on 3 November 1997 and concluded on 7 November. I should mention, as Wilson J set out in his judgment, that Mr Harris stole Miss Wood's files from the courtroom after the hearing on 3 November 1997.
- Wilson J had before him a report by Dr Boothroyd Brooks dated 5 July 1997 from which I propose to quote certain important passages. Referring to contact Dr Boothroyd Brooks said:
"If the Judge finds that the father has behaved as the mother says he has behaved then it appears to me that the benefits that come to the children from contact have been outweighed by the damage done to the children by the father's stalking and harassment of the mother. That behaviour has disturbed the children directly from what they have experienced of it. This is clear from the interviews with the children. It has also reduced the mother to a state of chronic anxiety and thus harmed the children indirectly. If the father continues to so harass the mother, I would with regret be driven to the conclusion that contact with the father should cease until there was evidence that he had changed his ways."
- He described the mother as follows:
"I am of opinion that the mother is a normal woman who has been driven to chronic anxiety by the behaviour of the father. I find nothing to support the father's claims that she is mentally ill, profoundly jealous of the father's relationship with the children or suffers from a long standing eating disorder. I think she is able to be responsible for all aspects of the children's upbringing and welfare. I think her present stance against contact with the father is a reaction to the father's harassment."
- Dr Boothroyd Brooks's views on Mr Harris deserve to be quoted at length:
"If the Judge finds that the father has behaved in an unreasonable manner and has made excessive use of litigation, stalked the mother and harassed her in the way the mother claims, then the father's personality is appropriately described as fanatic and combative. If the father is unable to change his ways, then the only conclusion possible is that the father suffers from a personality disorder. If the father does what he does in order to cause suffering to the mother, then the only conclusion possible is that the father is a fanatic and combative psychopath. These are very serious diagnoses. I am always most reluctant to make a diagnosis of personality disorder or psychopathy and reserve judgment until driven to it by extreme and unchanging behaviour. It is, sadly, true that the father has so behaved that all the social workers, the psychologist and the psychotherapist, all have been driven to the same conclusion. Mr B puts it this way in his report of 12 June 1997 -
'I had tried to get him to see that the only threat to this was his own behaviour and that if he did not moderate it then in the end the professional agencies would be defeated by this behaviour. Sadly this is now the outcome.
My view based on my attempt to find a more co-operative, element in Mr Harris is that this does not exist in sufficient degree to withstand his need to control omnipotently anyone with whom he is in relationship and to become violently abusive when this fails. For this reason it would be extremely dangerous for Mr Harris to have control of his children because this relationship too would become dominated by these qualities making it impossible for him to show the forbearance, the patience, and the appropriate balance between limit setting and boundaries required in parenting children.
So far he has been quite successful in getting the legal system to act for him, consuming the whole of his ex-wife's share of the equity in their earlier home in legal fees, a fact about which Mr Harris has expressed to me great satisfaction, I do hope that the high court hearing will be the setting in which Mr Harris's capacity to manipulate so many professionals, so many agencies, so many complaint authorities, and to create a process which is so punishing to his ex-wife and children, will finally be brought to a close, so that they can begin the task of rebuilding their lives.'
I am of opinion that the above report, if accepted by the Judge, indicates that the father is suffering from a personality disorder at best or psychopathy at worst.
At interview with the father, I made an appeal that came close to begging him to refrain from combat for the sake of his children. It appeared to fall on deaf ears. Nevertheless, he still has time to show that he is capable of changing his mind and I hope, even against my judgment, that he will yet do so.
I think contact with the father to be so desirable that if he can change his ways, he should be given every opportunity to do so. I would be extremely reluctant to recommend a permanent cessation of contact even though I fear that this may be inevitable if the father proves to be incapable of change and continues to act in ways that damage the children and the mother.
If the Judge decides that the father has behaved in the way the mother claims, my recommendations would be that there should be no direct contact with the father for six months and there should be injunctions against him stalking the mother. If those injunctions are obeyed and the father goes nowhere near the children, the mother, or anyone else forbidden by the Judge, then contact should be gradually restored with continuing checks on the father's behaviour. In simple terms, I would give him a chance to prove that we are all wrong and that he can control himself in order to see the children whom he loves."
- On 7 November 1997, having delivered the judgment to which I have already referred, Wilson J made an order providing that the children were to live with mother and that there was to be no direct contact or telephone contact between Mr Harris and the children until further order. It provided that Mr Harris was to have indirect contact (through and subject to the approval of the Official Solicitor) by means of fortnightly letters or cards and Christmas and birthday presents.
- I do not propose even to attempt to summarise the judgment which Wilson J delivered on 7 November 1997. It deserves to be read in its entirety. There are, however, certain passages, particularly germane to the issues which I have to decide, that I think I ought to quote at this point. Referring to Mr Harris Wilson J said:
"I have reached the conclusion that the father is obsessive, manipulative and quite unable to discern where the interests of the children lie. This litigation has become for him a way of life in which he can deploy his not inconsiderable intellectual and strategic skills to general view. ....
Mr B, a psychotherapist attached to .... had various sessions with the father during the autumn 1996 / spring 1997, with a view to helping him to reach a better perception as to where the interests of the children lay and to defusing the level of parental discord. Mr B reports that: 'Each session began in a way which could accurately be described as [the father] haranguing me ¼ expressed repeatedly and forcibly so that it was extremely difficult for me to hold on to a thinking position.'
Mr B discerned a profoundly controlling and abusive element in the father's personality and concluded that he had a need omnipotently to control anyone with whom he was in a relationship. Mr B feared that this trait of personality raised concerns about the father's relationship with the children in that it would be impossible for the father to show necessary forbearance and to strike the appropriate balance required in the parenting of children. It is of the essence of a balanced adult that he will be able to brook disagreement with his opinions and engage in amicable or at least civil discussion about differences in points of view; this trait is wholly lacking in the father. The father's response to Mr B was to call him "a tosser", and to complain about him to his professional association."
- The judge asked himself the question: What of Mr Harris's relationship with the children?
"He loves them intensely and they, indeed, are extremely fond of him. But what are the dynamics underneath this relationship? I consider that his love for them is essentially a selfish love. He admitted in oral evidence that he needed them as much as they needed him. A great advantage of his appearance as a litigant in person has been that I have been able to get a much closer view of him throughout the hearing than if he had been represented. I got the clear impression, for example by reference to all his references to "his" contact, rather than the children's contact, that his approach to contact was not in the least child-centred. In giving him a forensic latitude which will have perplexed all others present in court, I have not only responded to the fact of his appearance in person but have striven to give to myself the optimum chance of seeing the real man.
I have developed concerns that the father's love for the children is of a smothering kind. And when, as I must, I survey the children's wishes and feelings, and in particular the fact that on various occasions the children have indicated that they do not like circumstances at home and would like to live with the father, I will have to consider whether the father has, consciously or unconsciously, required the children to express such sentiments."
- Referring to Mr Harris's theft of Miss Wood's files the judge concluded his portrait of him as follows:
"The theft is another indication that the father is entirely devoid of moral scruple. He is a grossly inappropriate ambassador for "Families Need Fathers". More importantly he is in many respects a particularly poor role model for the children. Nevertheless he is their father and the only father whom they have or ever will have. And they love him."
- Turning to consider the mother, Wilson J said this:
"I have no doubt that the father rode roughshod over her during the marriage and emasculated her feelings of self-worth and emancipation. I believe that the mother is genuinely devoted to the children; but she finds herself in a situation of siege and harassment inside and outside these proceedings, to which she can discern no likely resolution. There is a body of evidence that she is a good mother - such is not in fact denied by the father, although he adds that as a person she is "plain nasty" - and that she loves them and tends to their daily needs in as appropriate a manner as the very difficult circumstances permit."
Of the children the judge said that they had:
"suffered a great degree of possibly permanent emotional damage as a result of the conflict between the parents, engendered, so I find, very largely by the father. The court welfare officer told me that, during his life with the case in 1996, he had rarely seen so much emotional damage caused to children as a result of parental acrimony and felt that they suffered a most inappropriate division of loyalties."
- Looking to the future Wilson J said this:
"The father is seeking an order that the children should reside with him or, if not, that he should have unsupervised staying contact with them every other weekend and for half the school holidays, plus visiting contact on Wednesday afternoons. In his statement dated 8 th September 1997 he says as follows:
'If my contact is not restored I am taking the following action:-
(a) Appealing both residence and contact.
(b) Making every opportunity to see the children, post the November court case, every day, totally disregarding any orders to the contrary. All others break court orders, perhaps I should start if justice does not appear soon.
(c) Staging a series of rooftop demonstrations on Social Services offices, Courts, drawing maximum publicity to this farce.
(d) If sentenced to prison for waving to my children (I have seen prison before, it's a holiday camp, the only deterrent was not seeing the children) and going on hunger strike to draw maximum attention to the farce this case is, using the Scottish branch of Families Need Fathers, out of this court's jurisdiction to get media attention to what is going on in this closed court.
(e) Selling my house, value about £80,000.00, and moving into the children's street, preferably opposite, next door or behind. My children will see me and know I am around (houses worth about £60,000.00 in the mother's street).
(f) Attempt to get letters, messages to them in whatever way I can.
(g) Between all of this ensuring I go anywhere the children may go, i.e. shops, parks, swimming, just to see them. No attempt would be made to abduct them or bring any harm to them whatsoever.
(h) Enlisting friends etc, to pass messages etc, however possible.
(i) No attempt to appear on the grandparents contact would be made at all, or use this to maintain my contact. I would use this time for various rooftop protests and attention seeking to this farce.'
A grossly unbalanced father, blind to the interests of his children and indeed prepared to pile further damage upon them in the service of his aggressive instincts, might harbour such plans. What is unique in my experience is their cold-blooded articulation in written evidence. The father denies, and I accept his denial, that these statements were written in a moment of anger. He says, truthfully I think, that he knew that the statement would inflame things. I believe that he means every word of that statement. He points out that the children may not be exposed to too much local publicity in that the Herald would be likely to report only that "a man" was on the roof of Plymouth Court. He says that, if the children did learn that he was on Scottish television, discussing these proceedings in chambers without fear of reprisal, at least they would realise that he had not given up on them. In this own words to me: "I am going to work outside the bloody courts."
The father heard Mr B, the psychotherapist, say this about those statements of intent:
'These sentences make my heart sink. They show that the father has learnt nothing. He would destroy the children by this behaviour; they will not survive.'
The father heard Dr Boothroyd Brooks say this about those statements of intent:
'I read this with the most appalling sense of continuing doom for the fate of the children. In July I came near to begging the father to behave reasonably. This shows that my earlier fear that it had fallen on deaf ears cannot be doubted. Anyone of average intelligence, and the father is intelligent, would realise that such behaviour would be a terrible burden on the children. I cannot think what possessed him to write it. When I look at the overall context of the case it confirms my gravest fears implicit in my worst diagnosis about his personality.'
There is nothing to indicate that either of those professional contributions has given the father any pause for thought at all."
- At the end of his judgment Wilson J expressed his conclusions as follows. First, in relation to residence, he said:
"The father is unfit to care for the children. And it might help the children at last to develop a sense of security were I to record this: I cannot foresee any time when it would be appropriate for any of the children to live with the father."
I agree. The events of the last three years have served only to emphasise the soundness of Wilson J's bleak but acute assessment.
- In relation to face to face contact he said this:
"The emotional needs of these girls - Section 1(3)(b) - and the emotional harm - Section 1(3)(e) - which the father has caused them and would, as things stand, continue to cause them by cruelly and deliberately undermining their love for the mother, as well as infecting their relationship with [mother's partner] and engaging their support for his warfare contra mundum clearly outweigh my wish to respect their wishes and feelings. The effect on the mother (and thus indirectly the children) of face to face contact between the children and the father would also be, and in this case reasonably so, catastrophic. There will be no face to face contact between the father and the children until further order."
- In relation to telephone contact he concluded:
""The mother, supported by the local authority and the Official Solicitor, contends that the telephone contact, controversially set up by me in May 1997, should now cease. I agree. Today is a watershed. The father has indicated convincingly that, in the event of my ruling against face to face contact, he will seek, in effect, to cause havoc around the children. I believe that he would misuse telephone contact in order to destabilise the children and that the fact of its being recorded would in no way inhibit him. I add in parenthesis that it is also valuable for the children to develop a clear sensation, even if initially painful, that from now on things will be different."
- On 24 July 1998 Holman J dismissed an application by Mr Harris for leave to apply for contact. Paragraph 1 of the order provided, by way of variation of the order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997, that his indirect contact with the children was to be through and subject to the approval of Plymouth, rather than, as previously, the Official Solicitor.
- On that occasion Holman J had before him a report of the Official Solicitor dated 17 July 1998. According to the Official Solicitor:
"Mr Szulc talked to the children individually. All three said that they do not wish to see the father until, in their words, he starts to behave himself."
"The father claims that the children's change of view is due to the mother's influence. I have no doubt that the children are aware of the mother's strong feelings about the father. However, their consistent wishes until now have been for an early resumption of direct contact. The father must acknowledge the impact of his behaviour and not seek to shift the blame elsewhere."
- In his judgment dismissing father's application delivered on 24 July 1998 Holman J said:
"The purpose and intention of the order of Wilson J was to give to the mother and the children a breathing space, and they have not yet had that opportunity. Worse than that, the mother has felt impelled to move house to a different part of Plymouth, which in turn has had the effect that all three children have now just left their previous schools and next term must all settle in to new schools in a new area with which they are entirely unfamiliar. ....
So, if Mr Harris wishes with any prospect of success to renew one day an application for leave to apply for contact, I very strongly urge him that he learns and does two things; first, that he completely desists from any further harassment of any kind of the mother or the children, or people connected with the mother, so as to be in breach of the injunction in its present form; and secondly, that he desists from making further applications for a significant period of time. ....
I cannot say strongly or clearly enough to the father that if he wishes to restore direct contact with his children the means of doing so lie with him. If he can leave the mother and the children in peace, completely in peace, until Easter of next year, then I, for one, will at that stage conscientiously reconsider any application which he may make."
- Mr Harris's reaction to these wise words of advice was, less than two months later on 7 September 1998, to issue a further application for, amongst other things, leave to apply for contact. That application came before Holman J on 25 November 1998 when he granted him leave to apply for direct contact.
- On 22 February 1999 Dr Cameron produced his first report. His report is impressive and prescient. Discussing contact he said:
"The mother, the adult maternal relations and [her partner], and to some extent the children, have been so emotionally bruised by the litigation and its consequences over the past few years, that two elements of peace are necessary before direct contact can be reintroduced confidently:-
(i) The first has already been achieved, namely, according to the father, he has not personally harassed the mother or any of her family relations or [her partner] since July 1998. He draws attention to Dr Boothroyd Brooks' requirement of 'six months', and states that he has already achieved that target of good behaviour.
(ii) Secondly, the mother and the maternal family require some six months of freedom from the demands of litigation, in order to regain their emotional composure about the father, and begin to contemplate and plan the children seeing him again."
- He continued:
"Once the father has achieved the two 'good behaviour' goals of (a) not harassing the maternal family, and (b) not bringing litigation against the maternal family for some six months, then an agreed programme of direct contact could reasonably be introduced."
- Dr Cameron then turned to consider the 'how' and 'when' of direct contact. He said:
"The disadvantages of reintroducing direct contact are obvious. This mother and the adults in her family, as well her three daughters, have been subjected to a barrage of litigation and intrusive harassment from a disaffected Mr Mark Harris over several years. This war of attrition has not only taken its toll on [the mother] psychologically, but has also required the mother and the children to move to a new house and new schools so as to remove themselves from the 'hounding' of the father. Things had reached such a stage that there was apprehension in the family most of the time that Mr Mark Harris would suddenly appear threateningly yet again. The mother and her daughters have found some peace in their home .... and have made good enough adjustments to the new schools and their new environment.
The children have a clear sense of their own identity with their absent father, and express this positively by saying that they wish that he would 'behave', for then they would be able to see him again. Thus, although it is the children's right to have contact with their father, that right is outweighed by the potential disadvantages which would flow if the father were to continue the same harassing and undermining behaviour which has been his hallmark over the past several years."
- At the end of his report Dr Cameron summarised his conclusions in numbered paragraphs. Paragraph 7 read as follows:
"The balance of advantage is in favour of contact resuming provided:-
(1) There is continuing non-harassment of the mother and the maternal family.
(2) There is a six months' clear gap since the last court case, in order to honestly say to the children that their father has 'behaved' for a half year.
(3) 'Behaving' includes cessation of harassment generally, with no applications, no faxes, no court appearances, no infringement of injunctions, and no letters."
- The matter came before Kirkwood J. At the end of the hearing on 11 March 1999 he made an order for Mr Harris to have interim contact with the children for six hours on each of six specified occasions at approximately monthly intervals. The children were to be taken to and from contact by persons approved by Plymouth and the first three sessions were to be supervised throughout. Indirect contact was to continue in accordance with the order made by Holman J on 24 July 1998. The contact arrangements were to be reviewed in October 1999. The order also provided, as I have already mentioned, for Plymouth to be discharged as a party to the proceedings. The order recited that Mr Harris had agreed that all his outstanding applications, other than his application for contact, should be dismissed and that, save for any application relating to the implementation of the interim contact order, he would not initiate any further proceedings whatsoever concerning the marriage, the mother, her family or the children.
- On 8 March 1999 Kirkwood J had given a judgment explaining his decision to discharge Plymouth as a party. More important for present purposes is the lengthy judgment he delivered on 11 March 1999. It deserves to be read in full. I quote only the most telling extracts. Near the beginning of his judgment Kirkwood J said this:
"The case has a long history, whose tragedy lies in the wretched consequences for the girls which result from the prolonged animosity between their parents. The history shows a heavy burden of responsibility that rests with the father for that, and shows that the absence of direct contact for the past two years, and the grave misgivings of the mother, Plymouth City Council and the Official Solicitor about a resumption of direct contact, all result very largely from the father's own conduct. ....
The risks have been of their contentment, in the mother's home, being undermined and destroyed. It was, in the past, undoubtedly part of the father's design to have the girls live with him, by fair means or foul, mostly foul. With the termination of direct contact in February 1997, the father's unrestrained campaign to see the girls, and his frustration, indeed anger, at the denial of that, has led to an appalling catalogue of litigation, harassment and contempt."
- A little further on the judge posed this question:
"What are the risks of contact if it is not managed sensibly? The first is that the father will resume the deployment of his considerable, proved, abilities, to undermine the children's placement with their mother. He will do that by overt criticism and challenge, and he will do that by subtle subversion. Secondly, he will, by deliberate or thoughtless conduct, sustain and feed the tensions, the frisson, between himself and the mother and her family. That would leave the mother under enduring stress to the disadvantage of the girls. Thirdly, there is the risk that the father will not accept any pattern of contact which falls short of what he wants for himself. He will persist in pressurising for more and more contact. Fourthly, on a broader front, the father's persistent litigation, on all fronts, will continue to the detriment of the mother and therefore the children. Fifthly, there is an identified risk that the father will over-smother the children with love, and will infantilise them."
- Summarising the evidence the judge said this:
"I have the resistance of this battered, bruised, conscientious mother to the reintroduction of contact unless, and until, by psychiatric or psycho-therapeutic intervention, the father's personality has been changed. I have Dr Cameron's advice that favours a moratorium of six months in which the children and, he would hope, the mother, would learn that by the father's good behaviour, the father is now behaving himself. In that time Dr Cameron would hope that the father will work with his probation officer, or some such person, to enhance his understanding of the proper proportions of this family situation, and of how best he can help his daughters. I have the father's urgent desire to see his children. Then I have the children's wish to see their father, when he behaves and the court decides."
- Kirkwood J announced his decision as follows:
"The father was quite right to recognize, in his oral evidence, that if any direct contact is ordered, it is up to him to make a success of it. He was right to recognize that if he does not, if the risks, that had been foreshadowed and that the mother so much fears, come about, then direct contact will end and will not be renewed for a long time into the indefinite future, if ever."
- He recognised the boldness of the step he was taking. As he said:
"I make the decision I do in the teeth of advice from the City Council, from the Official Solicitor, from Dr. Cameron and from the mother. I do it because, for the reasons I have given, I think it worth trying to give benefit to the children by moving the case forward at this stage when there are some propitious signs."
- Kirkwood J concluded his judgment with sage words of advice for Mr Harris:
"The father would be wise to regard this six-month period, not just as an interim provision, but as a probationary one. He would be wise to accept the nature and extent of contact that I order, even though it is far less than he would like, and concentrate on making a success of it. Making a success of it means not just insuring that the children have a happy time, but in a much wider sense, behaving with parental responsibility. That includes, respecting the children's mother and her own right to lead her life as she wishes; being supportive of her in the excellent care she gives the children; and seeing to it that the children know that he respects and supports that. Parental responsibility includes not questioning the children or putting pressure on them, or making them feel uncomfortable.
The father would be wise not just to desist from litigation, as he must, but to stop bombarding people with confrontational letters. If he needs to write to the Official Solicitor or speak to his representative, or to the social workers or anyone else, he must do so courteously and with restraint. The father would be wise to perceive that the tide is on the turn. He should swim with it rather than against it as he has done in recent years. The father is easily intelligent enough to manage this contact, and himself, and his parental responsibility well. If he does so, he will certainly find that he has the full support of the court in promoting his contact with his children."
- Pursuant to Kirkwood J's order contact took place on 12 April 1999 and again on 8 May 1999. The eldest daughter refused to attend on either occasion and in fact there has been no direct contact between her and her father since.
- On 18 May 1999 mother issued an application to commit Mr Harris for contempts alleged to have been committed by him in April and May 1999. The breaches, as subsequently found by Kirkwood J (see paragraph 107 below), involved the surreptitious insertion of messages for the children in Easter Eggs which Mr Harris sent them, and, much more significantly, his lying in wait for his eldest daughter whilst she was on her way to school on 14 May 1999. There is no doubt that, so far as she was - and is - concerned, these two incidents were the final straw.
- In relation to the incident on 14 May 1999 Kirkwood J said this in a judgment which he delivered on 15 October 1999:
"In June 1999, Dr Cameron told me that the father's conduct, in May, of trying to accost [his daughter] on her way to school, set back [her] willingness to join in contact by many months. The mother told me in this hearing that she sees that incident as a turning point for [her daughter]. I have to accept that. .... I regret that the father sees that as merely a small mistake he made, and as now something consigned to the past. I regret that his lack of insight into his children's needs blinds him to the profound effect on [her] of that incident. It was not, to her, a small mistake now consigned to the past. But for that incident [she] may well have come round to joining in contact. She was, I was told, on the point of doing so. A further consequence of the incident is that all three children have felt under continued pressure in respect of [her] absence."
- Nothing better illustrates the self-destructive folly of Mr Harris's rashness and lack of restraint. As I shall have occasion in due course to describe (see paragraph 194 below), I saw the eldest daughter in my private room during the hearing. Speaking quite unprompted of this incident she gave me an account strikingly similar in all significant respects to what Kirkwood J had been told. In particular I gained the clear impression from what she told me that she had indeed been teetering on the brink of resuming contact. So what she told me in February 2001 accords in all respects with what she was saying in June 1999. What she said to me confirms Kirkwood J's perception that this was indeed the turning point for her. At the beginning of this judgment I described this case as a tragedy. Probably no other single incident better exemplifies the point. Sadly I recognise that I am probably wasting words but even at this stage I would beg Mr Harris to reflect on how his impetuous action on this occasion, no doubt embarked upon with the best of intentions, though plainly involving a defiance of the injunction, has back-fired on him in so spectacular and damaging a fashion. The lesson for him, taught at so dreadful a cost, is that rather than following his own impetuous instincts he would be better advised to follow the advice of those who, even if he cannot recognise it, do want to help him and who just may, even if he is too stubborn and proud to admit it, be better judges of his own and his children's best interests than he is himself.
- Dr Cameron advised further in a letter dated 24 May 1999:
"Mr Mark Harris has received advice, on many occasions, to desist from 'pressurizing' the children and their maternal home. If he were able to follow this advice then the present visiting contact would have a chance to develop. Instead, his persistently intruding on the children's lives with their mother, has the effect of trampling on the good contact arrangements just as they are beginning. .... Mr Mark Harris does appear to be the architect of his own contact difficulties with his children. .... If, even at this stage, Mr Mark Harris were able to stop pressurizing his children (by questioning them unwisely on contact occasions) and give up all pressurizing and intrusion into the lives of the mother and the three girls, then there is a chance that the interim contact, just started, will flourish and develop into ordinary relaxed contact arrangements over the course of the coming year. In contrast, should the father's 'pressurizing' and invasion of the children's geographical space or court action continue, then it is highly probable that even the current contact will fail."
- On 23 June 1999 Kirkwood J considered mother's application that the remaining contact be supervised. Kirkwood J declined to make that order. He extended Mr Harris's indirect contact to include him sending Easter Eggs and Easter cards through and subject to the approval of Plymouth.
- Having summarised what had happened during the first three contact sessions and reminded Mr Harris of what he had said by way of advice to him in the course of his judgment on 11 March 1999 (in particular in the passages which I have set out in paragraph 54 above), Kirkwood J continued:
"Whilst the father has honoured a good deal of that, he has not, as I have indicated, honoured it all. I am surprised that those passages are not ingrained on the father's heart; they certainly should be. He must realise that this case is all about trust. ....
So it is up to him. There must be no breaches of injunctions. He must read and re-read the injunctions so that he is quite clear what they say. There must be no question of any false promises. There must be no questioning of the children. There must be strict adherence to the arrangements. There must be avoidance of anything that may suggest to the mother that he is undermining her, or in any sense having a go at her. The father may think that imposes a heavy burden upon him. He must also reflect upon how it is that we have arrived at where we are today."
- Kirkwood J then turned to consider what he called "the way forward" for the eldest girl. He said:
"The father must accept that Dr Cameron has vast experience with these sort of problems, and a professional life-time of experience of understanding children and what makes them tick. The father would also do well to understand that this court has far more experience of these sort of problems than he, the father, has. Both Dr Cameron and the court want [her] to have easy and rewarding contact with him. He should be in no doubt about that. The question, looking at the rest of [her] minority, is how to achieve it.
The answer lies in patience; a quality that does not come naturally to the father, but he must learn it. The father will be disappointed by my decision not to accede to his suggestion of contriving a meeting as he has asked.
The father should not dwell on the past, save to reflect that he is ultimately the author of all these difficulties. He should reflect and be grateful that the court is doing its best to establish contact between himself and his daughters after all this time, and that there is every sign that, with [the younger girls], it has got off to a good start. With impeccable behaviour by the father, with time and with patience, there is a very good chance of his ultimately attaining normal contact. Indeed, with those ingredients there is offered the best, and I fancy the only chance of his attaining good, normal contact."
- Thus the state of play on 23 June 1999.
- Dr Cameron in his next report dated 30 September 1999 considered the children's recent experience of contact:
"Although the father has allowed time to go by, and has shown some patience as he waits for [the eldest girl], it is apparent that he has not shown 'impeccable behaviour', for he cannot resist the temptation to intrude himself on the lives of his three daughters and their mother, whenever personal whim or chance gives him an opportunity to do so. He is not able to leave it alone, and walk away."
- He continued:
"The inescapable fact is that the seven supervised direct contact visits, the 'probationary provision', have fallen short of being satisfactory for two reasons:-
Internal reasons within the contact visits themselves. This has already been alluded to. While the physical care including feeding and playing has been satisfactory, the questioning and emotional pressurizing has been burdensome for his two younger daughters.
External to contact factors, namely the intrusive pressurizing presence of the father in the daily lives of the maternal family and the three girls, has led to an unfortunate awareness that he is continuing to emotionally pressurize exactly as he did in the past."
- He then expressed the view that:
"Taking all these factors into account, probably the least detrimental way forward would be for the once-monthly, six-hourly, supervised day contacts to continue, for a further probationary period. That recommendation is advanced tentatively."
- He explained:
"The basis for my recommendation that the present day-visiting contact arrangements should continue, on a second 'probationary provision', is that (a) the gain for the children from direct contact with the father, has not been entirely nullified by his emotionally pressurizing them, and (b) the father may be able to work constructively, for his daughters' benefit, with a further 'probationary provision, whereas a different recommendation would be more likely to precipitate in the father yet another public outburst which would embarrass and dismay his children even more.
The diagnosis, in this family dispute, lies at the door of the non-custodial father. He loves his children dearly in his own way, but he is quite unable to restrain himself from emotionally pressurizing them just as he does with professionals. He runs the risk of adversely affecting their current psychological well-being. Furthermore, if his pressurizing questioning of [the younger girls] continues, he runs the risk that they too will choose to have no further direct contact with him as thy grow up. The father cannot accept that he has any responsibility for the present contact difficulties. He stresses his parental rights."
- The matter came again before Kirkwood J in October 1999. At the end of the hearing on 15 October 1999 he made an order for Mr Harris to have interim contact with the younger girls for six hours on each of a further six specified occasions at approximately monthly intervals. As previously the children were to be taken to and from contact by persons approved by Plymouth but otherwise it was to be unsupervised. The order also provided that father was to be at liberty to have contact with his eldest daughter on the occasions of contact with the younger children and stated that
"The Court hopes and expects that [she] shall make herself available for such contact."
- In his judgment Kirkwood J referred to the contact which had taken place as follows:
"At one level, the seven periods of contact have gone well for [the younger girls]. The father is capable of providing, and has provided, material care and an entertaining day.
On another level, an emotional level, things are less happy. ....
I have been assisted today by another report from Dr Hamish Cameron which, however, the father more or less rejects as unbalanced. I am sorry he does so. It contains wise words, and offers to him further advice as to how to move forward.
I do not think that Mr Harris has fully absorbed the desire of the court to achieve, over time, good contact that is beneficial to the girls, including, I would hope, staying contact between father and all three daughters.
The .... court and, I am sure, Dr Cameron, wishes to see beneficial contact arrived at in due course. But the father does not take, perhaps cannot take, a contextual view. He is unable to see how deeply his past conduct has marked the mother and the children. The children themselves have varying degrees of direct memory of the past, but all are aware at their respective levels of understanding of the distress the father has, by his conduct, engendered.
I have said before that the girls each want to trust their father, and it is up to him to earn their trust."
- He referred to Mr Harris's impatience to move on to staying contact:
"He wants a decisive move to full contact now, despite being told that such an outcome is a long term ambition of Dr Cameron and the court. This lack of insight, again, blinds him to the circumstance that the dreadful past history is all part of this family's life story. To him the past is a catalogue of battles and confrontations, won or lost, and put behind him. It is not thus for the children, or the family in whose bosom they live. The father does not perceive that trust in him by the children and their mother has to be won. It will not be won by three months, or so, of better behaviour, welcome though that is. That is why, in March, I talked of full contact being a long, long way ahead. Certainly not this year, probably not next. Yet, by his ambitions, the father has exposed the children, all of them directly or indirectly, to further pressure."
- Looking forward Kirkwood J had this advice for Mr Harris:
"What can the father do to improve matters? It is actually simple to state: concentrate on today and let tomorrow take care of itself. Let each period of contact be a happy, fun, uncomplicated occasion. Have no hidden agendas .... Let there be no pressure of any kind on the children. The court is well aware that the father wants staying contact. The father might well be wise to leave it to Dr Cameron and the court to take the initiative when the time is right. Meanwhile, let the father and [the younger girls] enjoy what they have.
What else should the father try to do? He really needs to declare a lasting truce in the battle with the mother and her family. The battle is pointless and it is destructive. The father says: "Well, they must do the same, I implore them to do the same." But as Dr Cameron says to the father: "Just walk away from it.""
- In accordance with directions given by Holman J on 15 March 2000 the matter was listed before Bracewell J on 31 March 2000. On 20 March 2000 Dr Cameron produced his third report. Dr Cameron's discussion in his report began as follows:
"The Court-ordered review, of the past six months direct contact, was planned with the hope that by now fine-tuning of arrangements would allow a gradual increase in the children's contact with their father. How has contact faired over the past six months? The answer must be that, it has only been good in parts. The practical arrangements, timekeeping, and material care of the children during contact, have been satisfactory; their emotional welfare has not. They have been disadvantaged by threatening emotional pressure from their father, both during the contact itself, and indirectly by his actions between contact visits. That is to say, over the last six months the father's contact has done ' good ' and ' harm ' to the children."
- Of Mr Harris's contact with the children Dr Cameron said this:
" Materially , the father looks after [the younger girls] satisfactorily, and provides them with good enough physical care.
Emotionally , the father continues to pressurize [them], exactly as he did before. Their present unease with their father resonates with their awareness of his pressurizing behaviour towards them in the past. ....
The author, of the tension and difficulties surrounding contact, is the father and the father alone. The Court and the professionals are doing all they can to promote beneficial contact between Mr Mark Harris and his children. But the frequency of his chasing side-issues, making applications to Court, and complaining about professionals, makes it seem that he has 'lost the plot'. Instead of welcoming the mood of pervasive goodwill towards improving contact, Mr Mark Harris regresses into bellicosity and tilts at imaginary foes."
- Dr Cameron then turned to consider the various options, the first being to cease direct contact completely:
"This is an option which appeals, for the father has betrayed the love and trust of [the younger girls]. He has programmed their statements, and has threatened them, with the result that both girls have experienced emotional worries and upset. By continuing ' in-part emotionally abusive ' unsupervised direct contact, are [their] innocent minds .... being put at risk? [Events] point to the children being conditioned towards nervousness by his emotional pressurizing. Their minds remain messed up about contact even when they are away from him, and their father uses enticing words to get them back. Their loyalty to their father continues; their trust in him has gone.
Restarting contact was an act of confidence in the father, and the children have gained some benefit from actually being with him at his home. There would have to be strong grounds for stopping direct contact now, knowing that it would be unlikely to resume in the foreseeable future. Although the girls would be relieved from the direct contact emotional pressurizing, the father's ' pressurizing at a distance ', as with [the eldest], would continue.
The cautious view of this report, looking at the girls' welfare living in Plymouth with their father nearby, is that continuation of some direct contact is likely to be less detrimental than stopping it entirely."
- Dr Cameron then turned to consider continuing the same contact as at present:
"How can we? .... This father is psychologically abusing his daughters, and he cannot help himself. ....
Whilst the view of this report is that the father's contact with [the younger girls] does disturb the family unit, in a way which is detrimental to all three children's welfare, nevertheless that acknowledged harm seems just outweighed by the benefit from knowing their father as he actually is. Supporting direct contact, while knowing that emotional pressurizing is going on, is close to condoning the father's psychological maltreatment of [the younger girls]. The hope is that slowly improving contact will persuade the father to abandon his 'driven' campaign against his daughters and the mother's family.
This father appears to be 'in denial', for he claims not to be able to see that his emotional pressurizing is abusive and is harming the psychological well-being of his daughters. .... a halving of direct contact visits is recommended, to reduce the psychological harm being caused. Quantity less; quality the same."
- He then turned to consider reducing direct contact, what he termed 'damage limitation':
"If these girls were having day visits to a male friend of the family, or a distant uncle, and he was pressurizing their minds as Mr Harris does, the contact would be stopped forthwith. Whilst Mr Harris does have times during the contact when he is not directly pressurizing the girls or programming them what to say, their awareness that he will return to the dreaded topic lurks at the back of their minds most of the time. As the father seems unable to keep under control his compulsion to question and pressurize, the only practicable remedy is to reduce the frequency of direct contact visits."
- His prognosis was pessimistic:
"The likelihood of this further attempt succeeding, in improving direct contact for the girls is small. However, having started this 'good thing' of direct contact, every possible avenue should be tried before the process is given up. The girls enjoy contact with their father; they just want his psychological abuse to stop."
- Turning to consider the personalities of the adults Dr Cameron said of Mr Harris:
"The father has made a comfortable family home for himself, and he has a suitable setting for his daughters' visits. He provides meals for them and ensures their physical needs are met. He is in employment as a driving instructor and is financially secure.
Behind that conventional respectability, Mr Mark Harris cares little for others, and seems undismayed that his pressure has disturbed the tranquillity of his daughters' home. .... Mr Mark Harris remains callous and disbelieving about the emotional misery in his daughters, and he cannot see it is he who causes their pain. .... Mr Mark Harris works at two levels. The face he presents to the new outside world is one of reasonableness, but behind that he exerts threatening oppressive emotional power over those who stand in his way.
The above paragraphs illustrate how Mr Mark Harris' capability to be responsible for the emotional welfare of his three daughters' is impaired, and, in my professional opinion, he is disqualified from being other than a direct contact visiting parent, at infrequent intervals. Because Mr Mark Harris is (knowingly or unknowingly) so unaware of his emotionally harmful impact on his daughters, [the younger girls' direct contact with him does put them at psychological risk."
- Dr Cameron expressed his conclusions as follows:
"Mr Harris conducts an entirely false debate, by suggesting he is arguing against people who want to restrict his daughters' contact with him. But the opposite is true. The Courts, the professionals, his ex-wife and his daughters, all want to achieve good contact, calm and happy for all.
A direct contact balance needs to be struck, so that the children have:-
+ Sufficient direct contact to meet their identity needs, and know their father as he really is, but
+ Not too much direct contact, which could knowingly expose them to the harm of longer and greater intensity of emotional pressurizing by their father."
- The order made by Bracewell J on 31 March 2000 reduced Mr Harris's contact with the younger girls from approximately monthly sessions to sessions, each of six hours, six times a year on dates to be agreed, once during each school Christmas, Easter, Summer and half-term holiday. The order provided that the eldest girl was to attend such contact "if she so wishes." His indirect postal contact was reduced from once a fortnight to once a month. All of Mr Harris's applications were dismissed. The order further provided that the matter was to be further considered in September 2001 and, pursuant to s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 , but otherwise without prejudice to the s 91(14) order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997, that Mr Harris was not to make any application for direct or indirect contact without leave of the court for a period of twelve months.
- Finally, so far as material for present purposes, paragraph 8 of the order provided that the eldest girl's school was to provide Mr Harris with end of term school reports in relation to her but unless she consented he was not to be provided with advance information as to school outings or other activities.
- In her judgment Bracewell J commented:
"This case has been ongoing for many years, and it is quite apparent that the father issues applications like confetti. They have inundated the court since the hearing before Mr Justice Kirkwood.
It is, in my judgment, a tragedy that has occurred in this case. Mr Justice Kirkwood, who has been involved in this case between March 1999 and October 1999, gave very careful, comprehensive and sensitive judgments, endeavouring to progress contact between the father and the children. In those judgments he gave very wise words of advice to Mr Harris about his conduct, behaviour and attitude, recommending that he should forget about any agendas, any grievances and acrimony, but should endeavour to see contact as pleasurable for the children, treat each opportunity for contact as being for the welfare of the children, to be enjoyed and for their benefit, and not to rake over grievances, actual or perceived.
In my judgment, Mr Harris has demonstrated, partly by the quantity of applications he has made, partly by his attitude in these proceedings and the way in which he has given evidence and cross-examined the mother, that he has learned nothing from the wise words of Mr Justice Kirkwood.
That is a great sadness because both Dr Cameron and Mr Justice Kirkwood have done everything possible to progress contact in this case, but their efforts, in my judgment, have been met with the intransigence and the inability of Mr Harris to understand just how his behaviour and attitude is preventing that contact from being for the welfare of the children."
- The judge summarised the forensic conflict between mother and father as follows:
"Father, in evidence-in-chief, sought to present himself as being eminently reasonable, contained, sensible and measured. But it was when he participated in the cross-examination of various witnesses that he exhibited his true colours.
I have no hesitation at all in concluding on this issue of credibility, it is not, in these proceedings, the mother who has set the children against the father, but it is the father who does not have a good word to say about the mother, and who has, in fact, exerted subtle and manipulative pressure on these children, which sadly they find very difficult to bear."
- She continued:
"I have no doubt at all that by reason of the contact there has been a significant deterioration in the emotional welfare of these children, and I agree with the opinion of Dr Cameron that it is, principally, by reason of father's efforts to entice [the eldest] to contact that there is, growing, a rift between the three sisters which has affected all three children in different ways.
To alienate children in such circumstances is a matter of serious concern."
- The judge approached her conclusion as follows:
"I find in this case the court has a very difficult balancing exercise to perform, applying the welfare check-list as I do.
On the one side there is the enjoyment of the children of the contact with the father, and their pleasure in the activities in which they participate. That is very important in the light of a long period of time when there was no direct contact with the father, and it is a matter which weighs heavily in the balance that these children plainly enjoy many aspects of seeing their father, spending time with him, and being able to show affection for him.
But there is a much more difficult aspect which has to be weighed in the balance. That is the pressure which I have no doubt these children are under from the father, and the affect which it is having on their emotional welfare.
I do not consider that the father applies pressure wittingly. He does not do it consciously in order to discomfort the children, but, unfortunately, he has a tendency to view these applications as part of a campaign in an ongoing battle field. He has a complete absence of trust in relation to the mother, and he is blind to the damage which he is occasioning these children. He has, I find, little or no respect for boundaries, and he will go to any lengths to pursue and try to achieve his object, as demonstrated by the flurry of applications which mark the background to this case.
What is the court to do? I do not find that this is a case either of so called parental alienation or of any implacable hostility on the part of mother. I find that although mother is less than enthusiastic about contact, she is, nevertheless, to be congratulated on observing court orders against her better judgment. I do not find that she has in any way sought to undermine the contact which has taken place.
This is a case in which it would be tempting to say that this contact is causing such difficulties for the welfare of these children that direct contact should cease. ....
There is a detrimental outcome if the children see their father, because I have every confidence that the pressure will continue, particularly if [the eldest], as seems likely, continues to refuse to attend.
If they do not see their father, the children are being deprived of their knowledge of him, the expression of their love for him, and their ability to partake of rewarding experiences on contact visits. To prevent them seeing their father is to take away a significant part of their life. But, on the other hand, there is the need to protect the children from emotional harm.
I have concluded that the only way forward, which is for the welfare of these children, is, despite the contentions of the mother, to continue direct contact to the father but to reduce the number of occasions per annum. It is, in my judgment, a tragedy that this is necessary, but the father has only himself to blame for having brought this sad situation about."
- Explaining why there needed to be a s 91(14) order Bracewell J concluded with these observations:
"I have no doubt that there needs to be a period of calm for these children, without the shadow of continued and obsessive litigation. I have no doubt at all that further litigation is not only disturbing for the mother, but inevitably is going to affect her in relation to looking after the children. The constant threat of coming to court is destabilising, and is in itself, in my judgment, part of the pressure which the father seeks to exert on the children.
I am satisfied that there must be a new order under section 91(14) in order to protect the children from inappropriate litigation."
Events to 31 March 2000 - injunctions and contempts
- At the hearing before HHJ Wigmore on 14 April 1997 to which I have already referred Mr Harris was ordered not to "harass, molest or interfere with" the mother. By an order dated 1 May 1997 the word "pester" was substituted for the word "molest". On 15 May 1997 he additionally undertook to Wilson J not deliberately to follow the mother and/or the children, whether by car on foot or otherwise, or to loiter outside the property where the mother and children were then living, or (whether in a car or otherwise) at any point along the children's route to and from school.
- Between 21 April 1997 and 14 July 1997 (both dates inclusive) there were no fewer than thirty incidents which, as Wilson J subsequently found constituted breaches by Mr Harris either of the injunction granted by HHJ Wigmore on 14 April 1997 and/or of the undertakings given to Wilson J on 15 May 1997. The details of these contempts can be found in an order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997. I merely draw attention to the facts (i) that Mr Harris committed the first contempt within only seven days of the injunction being granted, (ii) that yet another contempt (the eleventh) was committed by Mr Harris on 21 May 1997 within only six days of his having given his undertakings to the court and (iii) that, as I have indicated, no fewer than thirty contempts were committed within a period of less than three months.
- Of these contempts Wilson J in a judgment which he delivered on 7 November 1997 said this:
"I take a very serious view indeed of these deliberate and repeated breaches, designed, so I find to destabilize the mother and perpetrated with no insight whatever into the damaging effects also upon the children."
He committed father to prison for four months concurrently for each of the thirty breaches.
- Also on 7 November 1997 Wilson J made another order (which I shall refer to as the 'in personam' order) containing two injunctions against Mr Harris. The first restrained him until further order from:
"using, communicating or dealing in any way with the contents of the personal file belonging to Miss Wood, Counsel for the Official Solicitor, .... removed by him from Court on 3 rd November 1997 save that:-
(a) he be at liberty to communicate the same to a solicitor or barrister from whom he may seek advice and;
(b) he be at liberty to use the same at any further hearing in these proceedings unless the court conducting the same should rule otherwise."
This arose out of the fact that, as I have explained, Mr Harris had stolen Miss Wood's files from the courtroom after the hearing on 3 November 1997.
- The second injunction replaced and in some respects extended the restrictions previously contained in the injunction granted by HHJ Wigmore on 14 April 1997 and the undertakings given to Wilson J on 15 May 1997.
- Also on 7 November 1997 Wilson J made yet another order (which I shall refer to as the 'contra mundum' order) which was, so far as is material for present purposes, in the following terms:
"Without prejudice to the provisions of Section 12(1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 (as amended by paragraph 14 of Schedule 13 to the Children Act 1989 )
IT IS ORDERED THAT
and an injunction is hereby granted restraining until further order in the meantime any person (whether by himself or by his servants or agents or otherwise howsoever or in the case of a company whether by its directors or officers servants or agents or otherwise howsoever) from:
(1) publishing in any newspaper or broadcasting in any sound or television broadcast or by means of any cable or satellite programme service or public computer network:
(a) the name or address of
(i) the above mentioned minors being the children whose names and address are set out in the First Schedule hereto (hereinafter referred to as "the children") or
(ii) any school or other institution or establishment in or at which the children are being educated or educated hereinafter referred to as an "establishment") or
(iii) the above-mentioned Applicant and Respondents being the persons whose names and addresses are set out in the Second Schedule hereto or
(iv) [mother's partner] whose name and address is set out in the Third Schedule attached hereto;
(b) any picture being or including a picture of either (i) any or all of the children (ii) the Applicant (iii) the First, Third and Fourth Respondents;
(c) any other matter
IN EACH CASEin a manner calculated to lead to the identification;
(i) in the case of the children of the children as being the subject of proceedings before the court;
(ii) in the case of any establishment of such establishment as being an establishment in or at which the children .... are being educated or treated;
(iii) in the case of each Mark Harris and [the mother] as being the parents of the children ("the parents");
(iv) in the case of each of .... as being the paternal grandparents of the children ("the paternal grandparents")
(2) soliciting any information relating to the children;
(a) from the children;
(b) from (i) the staff or (ii) the pupils of any establishment;
(c) from the parents or either of them;
(d) from the paternal grandparents or either of them.
(3) notwithstanding the provisions of Section 12(2) of the said Act but without prejudice to paragraph 2 below including in any publication of the text or a summary of the whole or any part of this Order any of the matters referred to in paragraph 1(1)(a);
PROVIDED THAT nothing in this order shall of itself prevent any person:
(i) publishing any particulars of or information relating to any part of the proceedings before any Court other than a Court sitting in private
(ii) publishing any information or picture already lawfully in the public domain
(iii) enquiring of another person as to whether that person is such a person as is referred to in paragraph l(2) above
(iv) seeking or receiving information from any person who has previously approached the person seeking or receiving information with the purpose of volunteering information
(v) soliciting information relating to the child in the course of or for the purpose of the exercise by the person soliciting such information of any duty or function authorised by statute or by any court of competent jurisdiction."
The persons listed in the Second Schedule to the order are the mother and the paternal grandparents. The person referred to in the Third Schedule is mother's partner.
- On 20 November 1997 Sir Stephen Brown P dismissed Mr Harris's application to purge his contempts. The same day the President made an order restraining Mr Harris from:
"(a) taking or permitting any step likely to expose the [mother and children] to any form of publicity arising from the proceedings herein
(b) Discussing or otherwise communicating any matter relating to the family circumstances (including any proceedings before any court) of the [mother and children] with any organ of the media, whether a newspaper, periodical, sound, television, satellite or cable broadcasting company, or public computer network or any other person, save that he be at liberty to discuss or otherwise communicate the same with:-
(i) any legal advisor whom he may consult or instruct;
(ii) representatives of the Official Solicitor;
(iii) the legal representatives of the [mother];
(iv) representatives of the [local authority];
(v) the legal representatives of, or the [paternal grandmother];
(vi) the legal representatives of, or the [paternal grandfather];
(vii) any other person the Court may permit."
- On 16 December 1997 the President ordered Mr Harris's discharge from prison on 22 December 1997. Within less than five weeks Mr Harris had on 26 January 1998 embarked upon a campaign of disobedience involving no fewer than thirty incidents between then and 16 June 1998 which, as HHJ Cottle subsequently found (see paragraph 97 below), constituted breaches of the second of the injunctions contained in the 'in personam' order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997. The details of these contempts can be found in an order made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998. I merely draw attention to the facts (i) that Mr Harris committed the first contempt within little more than a month of being released from prison after purging his previous contempts, (ii) that, as I have indicated, no fewer than thirty contempts were committed within a period of less than five months and (iii) that, as Holman J observed in a judgment delivered on 24 July 1998:
"Although I was totally unaware of them at the time of the hearing on 16 March 1998, eight of those breaches had occurred before that hearing, and the next breach was destined to occur some four days later on 20 March."
- That last observation is pregnant with significance, for earlier in the same judgment Holman J had commented that Mr Harris's perception on 16 March 1998 that he (Holman J) had appeared sympathetic towards the application for leave was indeed correct. Mr Harris's behaviour only four days later illustrates perfectly the reckless stupidity of his conduct - and, as will shortly appear, the way in which again and again as proved throughout the history of this matter he manages to destroy every chance he is given to move forward.
- On 20 March 1998 mother and the children moved to their present address.
- On 3 July 1998 HHJ Cottle (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) heard the mother's committal application issued on 15 May 1998 and found proved thirty of the forty-three allegations of contempt made by her against Mr Harris. For one contempt (the twenty-sixth which took place on 4 June 1998) Mr Harris was committed to prison for nine months, for the other twenty-nine contempts he was committed for six months. The sentences were concurrent and suspended for 18 months on condition that he obeyed the injunction contained in another order made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998.
- That injunction, expressed to be made under the inherent jurisdiction and the Family Law Act 1996 and to replace the second of the injunctions contained in the 'in personam' order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997, was in similar terms to the previous injunction except that it took account of mother's change of address and the children's new schools. It restrained father from:
"(a) Entering or attempting to enter on foot or by car or otherwise at any time whatsoever for whatever purpose the area outlined in red on the map annexed hereto.
(b) Entering or attempting to enter on foot or by car or otherwise between 8.15 a.m. and 9.15 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. the children's route to and from [school] until the end of the current school term (18 July 1998).
(c) Entering or attempting to enter on foot or by car or otherwise [two named roads in Plymouth].
(d) Harassing or pestering [the mother].
(e) Deliberately following [the mother] or [the children] (the children) or any of them by car, on foot or otherwise.
(f) Loitering outside any school attended by any of the children.
(g) Entering any school premises of which any of the children is a pupil or attending any other event organised by such a said school unless:
(i) None of the children is present there and
(ii) he shall have arranged in writing and in advance with an officer of the School so to do.
(h) Having or seeking any contact or communication with any of the children, other than as provided for in the order of Mr. Justice Wilson on 7 November 1997 or any subsequent order of the court.
(i) Having or seeking any contact or communication with [the mother] save through her solicitors."
Save in the case of paragraph (b), the order was to remain in effect until further order. A power of arrest was attached to the injunction. Attached to the order was a map.
- I should quote some of what HHJ Cottle said in the judgment he delivered on 3 July 1998. He commented that:
"Mr Harris accepts that he has been in breach of the injunction. That acceptance is coupled with a now familiar sounding apology and reassurance as to future conduct."
"I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of alleged breaches have been proved to the hilt. The general assertion that Mr Harris has reverted to type since his release has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. There have been numerous instances of Mr Harris quite deliberately ensuring that he encountered Mrs Harris and the children, normally when both were in their respective vehicles and Mrs Harris was on her way to or from the children's school. His behaviour on these occasions consisted of hooting his horn, flashing his lights and waving, thereby ensuring that his presence was both obvious and upsetting to Mrs Harris and, as importantly, to the children.
Mrs Harris moved addresses on about the 20 th March; her current address is about five miles away from Mr Harris's home. The children continue to attend the same school. Despite the distance Mr Harris has continued his campaign."
- During the course of his sentencing observations HHJ Cottle said that:
"Following his release he reverted immediately to type, again becoming defiant, and there was plenty of evidence in the papers before me of that defiance."
He said that events subsequent to the hearings in front of the President proved that Mr Harris's sworn affidavits for the purpose of those hearings "consisted of empty words."
- The injunction contained in the order made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998 has been varied on no fewer than five occasions, that is, by orders made
+ by HHJ Cottle on 18 September 1998
+ by Holman J on 25 November 1998
+ by HHJ Cottle on 20 January 1999
+ by Kirkwood J on 11 March 1999 and
+ by the Court of Appeal on 7 February 2000
- On 18 September 1998, HHJ Cottle made an order varying the injunction he had granted on 3 July 1998:
"(i) by adding at the beginning of sub-paragraph (a) the words "save as permitted by (g) below" and
(ii) by substituting for paragraph (g) (ii) the words "he is keeping an appointment to meet an officer of the school which has been confirmed to him in advance in writing by the school (a copy of such confirmation to be sent by the school to the children's social worker) provided that there shall be no more than two such appointments at each of the two schools in each school term."
- On 21 October 1998 the Court of Appeal allowed Mr Harris's appeal from the suspended committal order made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998 to the extent of (i) substituting sentences of six and three months imprisonment for the sentences of nine and six months, (ii) reducing the period of suspension from 18 months to 12 months (that is, until 3 July 1999) and (iii) removing the power of arrest. The judgment of the Court of Appeal was given on that occasion by Butler-Sloss LJ. Speaking of Mr Harris she said:
"[T]he stupidity of his behaviour over the last 12–18 months in particular has caused, and has rightly caused, an inability for him to have a relationship with those three children. He has cast around over the last year, blaming everybody but himself, and the time has come for Mr H to examine himself and wonder whether, however much others may be to blame, it is not time he looked at himself and saw where he was so patently to blame himself."
- On 25 November 1998 Holman J made an order permitting Mr Harris, notwithstanding the order made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998, to enter the area referred to in paragraph (a) of that order (which I shall refer to as the exclusion zone) on 2 December 1998 for the purpose of visiting his dentist.
- On 20 January 1999 an order was made by HHJ Cottle redefining the exclusion zone by reference to a substituted map covering, albeit with significantly re-drawn boundaries, broadly speaking the same area as the map attached to the earlier order dated 3 July 1998.
- On 11 March 1999 Kirkwood J made an order permitting Mr Harris, notwithstanding the order of 3 July 1998, to enter the exclusion zone in order to attend his dentist
"for dental treatment on any occasion on which he has given at least seven days notice in writing (including a copy of his appointment card) to the .... mother's solicitors and the Official Solicitor".
- On 18 May 1999, as I have already mentioned, mother issued an application to commit Mr Harris for the contempts committed by him in April and May 1999. Her application was heard by Kirkwood J on 22 June 1999. He found Mr Harris guilty of two breaches of HHJ Cottle's order: the surreptitious insertion of messages for the children in Easter Eggs which he sent them, and, much more significantly, the incident I have already mentioned, his lying in wait for the eldest girl whilst she was on her way to school on 14 May 1999. In relation to the Easter Egg contempts Kirkwood J fined Mr Harris £40. In relation to what he said was the more serious incident on 14 May 1999 he fined him £100. He declined to activate the suspended sentence imposed by HHJ Cottle.
- On 15 October 1999 Kirkwood J dismissed Mr Harris's application for the discharge of the injunction contained in the order (as amended) made by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998. Explaining why, he said:
"The existence of the injunction is a significant part of the endeavour of the court to try to establish confidence and trust in the case. I do not, for my part, think it likely that it will be necessary or wise for the injunction to continue in its full rigour indefinitely, but I do not propose to alter it on this occasion."
- On 7 February 2000 the Court of Appeal allowed, in part, Mr Harris's appeal against Kirkwood J's refusal to discharge the injunction. The exclusion zone was reduced by a limited extent. The reasons why the Court of Appeal took the view it did appear from the judgment of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P. Her Ladyship's judgment concluded with this stern warning to Mr Harris:
"If he sets foot across the new exclusion zone, or if he takes the opportunity to drive down [X] Road or down [Y] Road indulging in the antics in which he has indulged in the past, he will not only be in breach of the injunction not to molest them, but he will find that the exclusion zone is at a stroke extended back to the place where it is now, and he will have no possibility of getting it changed again for a very considerable period, for the simple reason that he will not be able to be trusted.
So if he wants to run his business within the [Z] area, he is being given the opportunity to do so. But he is in effect on probation and if he does not behave, and if he causes any trouble which is found to be trouble by the judge in the future, whether it be between now and 31 st March or between the 31 st March and any other time in the future, he will suffer very considerably because he will lose the depleted exclusion zone that he has sought at the moment."
Events from 1 April 2000 to 28 January 2001
- As will be apparent from this narrative, Mr Harris had not misbehaved himself in any way since the contempt involving the eldest girl on 14 May 1999. Indeed, compared to his gross misbehaviour between April and July 1997 (see paragraph 88 above) and again between January and June 1998 (see paragraph 94 above), the events of 1999 had been comparatively trivial in their intent even if not, unhappily, in their consequences. But following Bracewell J's judgment on 31 March 2000 all that was to change. I need, therefore, to consider events since then in some detail.
- Almost immediately there began a series of incidents which, as I have found, involved serious and continuing breaches by Mr Harris of the injunction granted by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998. I shall have to deal more fully with this below but, putting the matter shortly, mother alleged that starting on 2 April 2000 and continuing through to 10 October 2000 Mr Harris had committed no fewer than eighteen breaches of that injunction. I have found ten of those alleged breaches proved: the first three were, I find, committed on 2, 20 and 25 April 2000.
- On 2 April 2000 there took place an incident at a superstore in Plymouth which involved a contempt by Mr Harris inasmuch as he approached and talked, albeit briefly, to the children in breach of paragraph (h) of the injunction.
- On 20 April 2000 the mother received a cheque for £900, post-dated 29 April 2000, sent to her by Mr Harris and accompanied by a note which read:
"Attached is a cheque for £900, yours if [the eldest girl] comes on Wednesday, and continues to come. It's postdated, so don't try & cash it before hand."
Mother did not cash the cheque. Quite apart from the insight into Mr Harris's manipulative approach to contact that this affords, his sending of this missive plainly constituted a breach of both paragraphs (d) and (i) of the injunction. The facts are not - could not - be disputed by Mr Harris. He says, however, that he did not believe he was in breach of the order, apparently on the basis that he wrote only once to mother and did not ask for a reply. The defence is absurd. Sending the cheque and the note to mother was quite plainly "having .... communication" with her otherwise than through her solicitors within the meaning of and accordingly in breach of paragraph (i) of the order. Having regard to what it said, and the context in which it was sent, I am satisfied that the sending of the note with the cheque amounted to a harassing and pestering of mother in breach of paragraph (d) of the order.
- On 25 April 2000 Mr Harris entered the exclusion zone, driving on this occasion, as on three subsequent occasions, along the road off which the mother's road turns, in circumstances which, I am satisfied constituted breaches not merely of paragraph (a) but also of paragraph (h) and, except on the last occasion, of paragraph (d) of the injunction. On the first occasion, 25 April 2000, mother's case is that he was seen not merely by her but also by two police officers, both of whom gave evidence to that effect. On the second occasion, 7 August 2000, and again on the third occasion, 24 August 2000, he was seen by the mother. On the fourth occasion, 5 October 2000, he was seen by mother's partner.
- Mr Harris admits to having entered the exclusion zone "on a number of occasions". He admits he was there on 25 April 2000, being driven by a pupil. He admits instructing his pupil to turn into the road where mother lives though he claims, falsely as I find, having heard both him and mother give evidence on the point, that this latter manoeuvre was forced on him because mother was blocking the road with her car. Referring to what are plainly the events of 7 August 2000 he denies having turned into the exclusion zone. Having heard both him and mother give evidence I am satisfied that he did. He admits it is possible he was in the exclusion zone on 24 August 2000. Having heard mother's evidence I am satisfied that he was. He "cannot recall" if he was in the exclusion zone on 5 October 2000. Having heard mother's partner give evidence I am satisfied that he was. I am accordingly satisfied that in relation to each of these four occasions Mr Harris was in the exclusion zone in breach of paragraph (a) of the order.
- Mr Harris sought to justify or extenuate his misconduct in repeatedly entering the exclusion zone. He admits to having done so, as I have already noted, "on a number of occasions". In the course of giving evidence he casually, and without the slightest sense of shame, embarrassment or remorse, admitted to having done so on occasions other than those complained of by mother, having gone in, as he put it, "when I thought I would not be seen." The alleged justification put forward by Mr Harris in an affidavit is that his work as a driving instructor "does necessitate me going into the excluded area." I pass over for the moment the fact that this statement merely demonstrates Mr Harris's quite deliberate defiance of the injunction and his total disregard of the very clear warning given to him by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P on 7 February 2000 (see paragraph 109 above). He went on to assert in the same affidavit, and repeated the assertion in the witness box, that on each occasion when he had entered the exclusion zone he had been working and always with a pupil. I pass over the fact that these assertions, both given on oath, turned out in fact to be lies, because at a later stage in his evidence Mr Harris admitted, again quite without either shame or embarrassment, that he had visited his dentist, who is within the exclusion zone, without having complied with the requirements of the order made by Kirkwood J on 11 March 1999 (see paragraph 106 above).
- I wish to examine the reasons Mr Harris put forward in support of the assertion that his business necessitated his driving into the exclusion zone. There appear to be two:
• The first is that the exclusion zone is in a particular post-code area and the AA driving school will not permit him to split a post-code area, so that if he wishes to take that area he has to take whatever pupils in that area he is given.
• The second is that included within the exclusion zone are certain "unique features" (speed humps and mini roundabouts in one road) and "unusual shaped corners" (in two other roads) which pupils taking driving tests need to experience at least once whilst being taught "in case the Test Examiner takes them to those roads". Mr Harris goes even further. He asserts that "Pupils are often taken around these roads on their tests."
- As to the first of these alleged reasons, what Mr Harris says is true, as appears from a letter from the AA Driving School dated 1 December 2000 that he exhibited to his affidavit. However, it is in my judgment quite beside the point for, as a letter from the same source dated 12 December 2000 but produced by the mother demonstrates, post code areas are not allocated to instructors, who choose the areas they work in. Thus, as mother points out, Mr Harris could simply choose not to work in the particular postcode area, which would leave him the rest of Plymouth and the surrounding area in which to work.
- The second alleged reason is simply humbug - and untruthful humbug at that. I simply do not accept that there is anything "unusual" let alone "unique" in any of the features Mr Harris describes. Moreover, as a glance at the map shows, there is absolutely no need to drive along the road off which mother's road turns in order to get to either of the roads he mentions. The real point, however, is that his assertion about the official test route is simply untrue. A letter to mother's solicitors dated 10 November 2000 from the Supervising Examiner for Devon and Cornwall and responsible on behalf of the Driving Standards Agency for the operation of all driving tests in the two counties, and a letter to the Official Solicitor dated 30 November 2000 from the Assistant Chief Driving Examiner of the DSA based in Nottingham, both confirm that the exclusion zone does not form part of any DSA official test route. I should add that the letter to the Official Solicitor is in reply to a letter from the Official Solicitor dated 16 November 2000 in which the DSA was asked to comment on a number of other subsidiary points apparently being put forward by Mr Harris. I need not go into detail. Each of those points was demonstrated by the DSA in its letter of 30 November 2000 to be largely lacking in substance. It concluded its letter with the comment:
"Given the above points and the fact that the area you have specified is not used by DSA examiners I fail to see how [Mr Harris's] claims, outlined in your letter can be upheld."
- Mr Harris also asserts in the same affidavit that when he does take pupils into the excluded zone he ensures that he does not do so when the children are coming home from school. Having heard him give evidence I simply do not believe him when he says this. The mother asserts, and having heard both her and Mr Harris give evidence I am satisfied, that on the first three occasions when it is established to my satisfaction that he entered the exclusion zone mother was there and saw him and that on the second and third occasions the children were also there, as she described it, being driven along in her car. On both occasions the children saw him; indeed on the earlier occasion I am satisfied that, as mother asserted, Mr Harris grinned and waved at the children. On the fourth occasion the only person who saw him was mother's partner. Having regard to all the evidence I have heard from both mother and father I am satisfied that Mr Harris's purpose when he enters the exclusion zone, even if he seeks to mask this purpose on occasions by taking along a pupil as cover, is to try and have contact or make communication with the children in circumstance where he is totally indifferent to the effects this may have either on mother or for that matter on the children. I am accordingly satisfied that on each of the four occasions in question Mr Harris entered the exclusion zone in circumstances where not merely was he in breach of paragraph (a) of the order but also, since his purpose was to seek contact or communication with the children, he was also in breach of what I might call the second limb of paragraph (h) of the order. In relation to those occasions when he did actually see and wave to the children he was, of course, in any event in breach of what I will call the first limb of paragraph (h) of the order. I am satisfied that on the three occasions when he entered the exclusion zone and was seen by mother the circumstances amounted if not to a harassing at least to a pestering of mother.
- Accordingly I find the allegations of contempt in relation to the first three incidents proved in respect of both paragraph (a) and also paragraphs (d) and (h) of the order. I find the allegation of contempt in relation to the fourth incident proved in respect of both paragraph (a) and paragraph (h) of the order.
- At about the same time in April 2000 Mr Harris resumed his campaign of public protest. (I should mention that as long ago as 7 May 1996 he had staged a protest by climbing on to the roof of the local authority's social services offices - an escapade for which he was subsequently convicted of criminal damage.) It will be recalled that Wilson J in his judgment delivered on 7 November 1997 had referred to his association with FNF and commented (see paragraph 34 above) about how "grossly inappropriate" an ambassador for that organisation Mr Harris was. Now, in April 2000 he set up an organisation called DADS (Dads Against Discrimination) as his response to what, in a letter to the Official Solicitor dated 20 August 2000, he called "the Bracewell farce".
- DADS's first demonstration took place on 25 April 2000 outside court. Mr Harris, who was named, gave an interview on a local radio station, Plymouth Sound.
- Against that inauspicious background the first contact directed by Bracewell J took place on 26 April 2000. That proved to be the occasion for the fourth contempt which I have found proved. During contact Mr Harris handed the children presents which had not been, as they should have been if he was to comply with the orders made by Holman J on 24 July 1998, Kirkwood J on 23 June 1999 and Bracewell J on 31 March 2000, previously sent by him for approval by Plymouth. Here again the facts are not and could not be denied by Mr Harris. His excuse is that the social workers had the opportunity to check the presents before the children took them home. This, as he must perfectly well know, is beside the point. The relevant order required the presents to be sent through and subject to the approval - that is, the prior approval - of Plymouth. To hand over presents during unsupervised contact, for the contact on 26 April 2000 was, of course, unsupervised, was a plain breach of the arrangements for indirect contact and, as such, a breach of paragraph (h) of the order. Mr Harris really can have had no excuse. The committal proceedings in front of Kirkwood J on 22 June 1999 (see paragraphs 56 and 107 above), particularly those relating to the Easter Egg contempts, must have brought home to Mr Harris the need to comply meticulously with the arrangements for indirect contact. He claims that it had become the accepted practice for him to act in this way. It may have been accepted by him, it was not accepted as appropriate by Plymouth or by anyone else, let alone by the court.
- The next day (27 April 2000) Mr Harris organised a demonstration outside Plymouth Combined Court Centre. He was interviewed face to face on camera the same day by a local television station, Carlton. Again his name was broadcast, although there was no reference to the proceedings. The interview was captioned: "MARK HARRIS Equal Parenting Party." There was also coverage, though Mr Harris was not named, in local newspapers.
- The next contact session took place on 31 May 2000. This was, as it turned out, the last time the youngest girl attended contact with Mr Harris.
- The next day (1 June 2000) Mr Harris organised another demonstration outside Plymouth Combined Court Centre. The event was reported the following day in a local newspaper, the Plympton, Plymstock and Ivybridge News, under the headline 'Mark's campaign to help fathers'. Accompanied by a photograph of father captioned 'Mark Harris demonstrates outside Plymouth Crown Court', the article read in part:
"A PLYMPTON man is to organise a protest across the West Country and the Midlands after setting up a campaign to help fathers get more access to their children.
Mark Harris, 41, .... set up the Dads Against Discrimination pressure group in April this year in order to support fathers who find themselves denied access to their children after separating from or divorcing their partners. ....
It was Mr Harris' personal experiences that inspired him to establish the group.
He has been in a wrangle with his ex-wife for six years and after two court hearings he has just six days access to his children a year - just one day each holiday and half term.
'The problem is as soon as the father starts complaining the courts seem to have only one solution - get rid of him.'
Mr Harris, who has represented himself for the last four years after initially spending £9,000 on legal fees, also believes the Children's Act, set up in 1989 and which was supposed to help fathers in this position, is often ignored."
- On 8 June 2000 the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Harris's application for leave to appeal against the order which Bracewell J had made on 31 March 2000 and his further application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords. Thorpe LJ described his application for leave as "in any ordinary language .... hopeless."
- Overnight on 13/4 June 2000 the fuel line on the mother's car was cut. Not surprisingly she suspects Mr Harris of being responsible for, as she points out, her's was the only car in the street that was vandalised. Like mother I suspect that he was indeed responsible, and I am not prepared simply to accept Mr Harris's denials as the truth. That said, I would not be justified in coming to a finding adverse to him even on the civil standard of proof, let alone to the criminal standard of proof required in proceedings for contempt. The matter rests on suspicion and I do not have sufficient material to enable me to draw the necessary inferences if I am to find him guilty to the criminal standard of proof. Accordingly on this incident I find the charge not proven, using that phrase in the Scottish sense.
- The next day, 14 June 2000, the eldest girl saw some 7 or 8 posters which had been put up by EPP at locations between her house and school, that is, within the exclusion zone. The posters read as follows:
"Father's Day Sunday 18 th June
How many children will see their father this Sunday?
100,000 children lose contact with one parent every year
+ Parents should be treated equally after divorce or separation for the sake of their children.
+ Both Parents should have an equal say in the parenting of their children.
Children must not be used as weapons by the resident parent - male or female - against a former partner."
The mother, again not unreasonably, suspects that Mr Harris was responsible for putting up the posters and that he was thereby breaching the injunction. Again, her suspicions may be well founded, but I am not satisfied they are. I have heard evidence from Mr Harris about this. It leaves me deeply suspicious that at the very least he had a pretty good idea that the posters were going to be put up and that he may very well have been responsible himself for doing so. However I cannot be sure. On this matter also I therefore find the charge not proven.
- On 16 June 2000 co-ordinated demonstrations organised by DADS and other like-minded groups to mark Fathers Day on 18 June 2000 took place outside courts in Exeter, Taunton and Bristol. There was extensive publicity in local newspapers reporting all three demonstrations. Mr Harris took part in the demonstration at Exeter, of which there was extensive local newspaper coverage, both before and after the event, in the editions of the Exeter Express & Echo published on 13 June 2000 and 20 June 2000 and in the Western Morning News published on 17 June 2000. Mr Harris was named in all three reports. A photograph of him appeared in one above a caption in which he was named. The article in the Express & Echo of 13 June 2000 includes the following:
"'There are thousands of children who are not getting contact with their children,' said DADS founder Mark Harris 41, from Plymouth. 'Or it is increasingly normal to get a contact order for your children for just six or twelve days a year. It is a grave injustice.
Mr Harris added: 'Children should be able to see both their parents unless there is a serious reason why not.
'There are 150,000 children effectively losing a parent through the courts and that is more than lost their father during the Second World War.'
Mr Harris founded DADS in April and the group now has grown to around 60 members. He currently sees his three children for six days a year and has spent £9,000 on legal fees.
Mr Harris said he had been surprised by the strength of support for his cause and was hoping that the demonstrations would persuade judges to rethink their position on the issue.
'Children want both parents - preferably in the same home - but if they are not they need to see both parents,' he explained.
'I am getting a lot of phone calls and it is the same story - fathers cannot get justice.
Mr Harris went on: 'At the moment, if you want to see your children there have to be compelling reasons to let you and that is all the wrong way round.'
Anyone affected by this issue, their family or friends, are invited to attend the protest."
- On 27 June 2000, there took place the fifth of the contempts to which I have referred. After attending the youngest girl's school in the evening to discuss her school-work with teachers, Mr Harris left a note in one of her school books. It read:
"Well done [name], great work & great report! Love Daddy XXX"
The facts are admitted by Mr Harris, as indeed they had to be. He pleads in extenuation that he has been acting in this way for the last three or four years "and this has never been raised as a problem before." I am not prepared to accept his claim that he has done this as often as he says. In any event it is simply not true that it has never previously been raised as a problem. There had been a similar episode in 1997, albeit not involving any contempt of court because at that time there were no injunctions in force, which had brought forth complaints from the school. On 12 March 1997 Mr Harris had attended an open evening at the school and left two notes for his youngest daughter in her work tray: "Well done [name], Love from Daddy, XXXXXX." The following day (13 March 1997) her Headteacher had written to Mr Harris saying:
"[She] appeared uncomfortable and anxious about the matter and said that she did not wish to have them. I have therefore made the decision that in [her] best interests ...., it will not be possible to pass on any further notes. Should you wish to make contact with [her] you will need to do so through the channels already available to you."
Furthermore, as I commented in relation to a similar contempt in paragraph 124 above, the committal proceedings before Kirkwood J on 22 June 1999 should have made it clear to Mr Harris that this kind of behaviour simply would not be tolerated. The fact that Mr Harris, despite all that has previously happened, chooses to behave in this manner, and then just tries to shrug the matter off as somehow inconsequential or to be forgiven, illustrates perfectly both the contemptuous disregard he displays to the court's orders and his total failure to appreciate the effects such antics have on his daughters. For, quite apart from the fact that what Mr Harris did on 27 June 2000 was plainly a breach of paragraph (h) of the injunction, its effect on his youngest daughter was most unfortunate. According to her mother, whose evidence on the point I have absolutely no reason to doubt, she was exasperated and upset. In the event she refused to attend any further contact. This is yet another example of one of Mr Harris's impetuous initiatives back-firing on him - and this time he cannot say he was not warned.
- In the meantime on 15 May 2000 Mr Harris had issued yet another application for the discharge or variation of the injunction. That application, together with an application issued on 12 June 2000 in which he sought the bringing forward of the review ordered by Bracewell J for September 2001, was heard by Holman J on 29 June 2000. He delivered a lengthy judgment, carefully analysing what Bracewell J had said in her judgment on 31 March 2000 and what Thorpe LJ had said on 8 June 2000. Both applications were dismissed. Mr Harris sought to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
- Even without waiting for the outcome of his application to the Court of Appeal, Mr Harris's response to the order made by Holman J on 29 June 2000 was to bombard the court with a blizzard of further applications. Thus applications in relation to contact were issued by Mr Harris on 13 July 2000, 16 July 2000, 16 August 2000 (two), 20 August 2000, 26 August 2000, 20 September 2000 and 27 September 2000. On 20 August 2000 and again on 26 August 2000 he issued applications for the discharge or variation of the injunction and on 10 September 2000 he issued yet another application for the discharge of the Official Solicitor.
- At about the same time Mr Harris stepped up his campaign of demonstration and protest. As he put it in his letter to the Official Solicitor dated 20 August 2000,
"In July we moved these protests to judges homes, where Butler-Sloss is a popular target because of her position as President of the Family division."
- On 15 July 2000 DADS, joined on this occasion by EPP, protested outside Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P's house in Devon. A report in the local newspaper, the Plympton, Plymstock and Ivybridge News, published on 21 July 2000 under the heading 'Judge targeted by DAD campaigners' carried a photograph of Mr Harris at the demonstration captioned 'Mark Harris (left) just gets in the picture showing unhappy parents during the demonstration outside the judge's house'. The accompanying article read in part:
"A PLYMPTON man behind a campaign to help fathers get more access to their children organised a demonstration outside the house of Britain's top family judge.
Mark Harris, 41, .... set up Dads Against Discrimination in April to help fathers who are denied access to their children after separating from or divorcing their partners ....
Mr Harris hopes the action will persuade Dame Butler-Sloss to implement an order of shared residency as introduced by the Children's Act in 1989.
The rule works on the basis that the children of separated parents should be able to spend as much time as possible with both after a relationship breakdown.
Mr Harris believes that if Dame Butler-Sloss implements the ruling, her influence will force lesser courts to follow suit.
'She ignored our court protests in April, May and June, we are hoping now it has been a bit closer to home she'll pay it more attention. If she doesn't we'll come back,' said Mr Harris.
Mr Harris started the group as a result of his own experiences. He has been in a wrangle with his ex-wife for six years and after two court hearings and an overall cost of £300,000 has just six days a year access to his children."
- Other reports of the protest published in the Midweek Herald on 19 July 2000 and the Torbay Herald Express on 20 July 2000 also referred to Mr Harris by name and carried quotes of what he had said.
- Overnight on 2/3 August 2000 the fuel line on the mother's car was again cut. Again, as in relation to the previous such incident, she suspects Mr Harris of being responsible and again, like mother, I suspect that he was indeed responsible. However, I would not be justified in coming to a finding adverse to him, so on this incident as on the previous one, I have found the charge not proven.
- On 7 August 2000 there took place the sixth of the ten contempts to which I have already referred. As on 25 April 2000 Mr Harris entered the exclusion zone in circumstances which, I am satisfied (see paragraph 121 above), constituted breaches not merely of paragraph (a) but also of paragraphs (d) and (h) of the injunction.
- On 11 August 2000 Mr Harris again demonstrated, this time chaining himself to court railings. A report of the incident in the Autumn 2000 Newsletter of Bristol FNF under the headline 'Dad Chains Himself to Railings' says:
"Mark is a devoted dad. It took 111 court appearances for him to get unsupervised access to his children six times a year. The cost to the taxpayer of this fiasco has topped £300,000. Given that he eventually got his access there can hardly have been a cogent reason why the case went on for so long.
No doubt the court process which, through it's normal cycle of delay and incompetence, and its tendency to aids and abet the parent who lives with the children, had a significant part to play in the drain on public funds."
- The next day (12 August 2000) protests by DADS took place in Exeter before moving on to demonstrations outside the private houses in Devon of both the President and HHJ Wigmore. There was extensive local newspaper coverage, both before and after the event, in the editions of the Exeter Express & Echo published on 12 and 14 August 2000 and in the Exmouth Journal published on 16 August 2000. The latter carried a quote from Mr Harris, described as "Mark Harris, group organiser'.
- On 14 August 2000 (the day before the hearing of Mr Harris's application in the Court of Appeal) both the Official Solicitor, Mr Oates, and the case-worker handling the Family Proceedings on his behalf, Mr Szulc, received at their private addresses envelopes containing a press cutting from the edition of the Express & Echo published on 12 August 2000 about the demonstrations planned to take place later that day. It is perfectly obvious that these can only have been sent to them by Mr Harris or someone acting at his instigation.
- On 15 August 2000 the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Harris's application for leave to appeal against the order made by Holman J on 29 June 2000. He gave the Court of Appeal an undertaking
"not to communicate in any way including posting letters or telephoning the homes of the Official Solicitor or his representatives or his staff for a period of six months from the date of this order."
- The next contact session took place on 16 August 2000. This was, in accordance with the order made by Bracewell J on 31 March 2000, the first contact since 31 May 2000. Since then, of course, there had occurred the significant contempt on 27 June 2000 - significant because of the effect it produced in the youngest girl -, the resumption of Mr Harris's frenzied litigation and the stepping up of his campaign of highly publicised protest. The youngest girl refused to attend. According to her mother, whose evidence I accept, she had been expressing misgivings about attending contact because she was exasperated with her father about the note left in her school book. Mother tells me, and I accept, that on several occasions she had explained to her that she must attend contact. She was adamant that she would not go and in the event only the middle daughter went. The youngest girl has not been to contact with her father since.
- On 20 August 2000 Mr Harris wrote to the Official Solicitor. In the course of a four-page letter he said:
"Dad's against discrimination. I set this up after the Bracewell farce. We held demo's outside Court's in April, May & June. These fell on deaf ears.
In July we moved these protests to judges homes, where Butler-Sloss is a popular target because of her position as President of the Family division.
In August, we spread this to a second prominent judge, James Wigmore. I attach last week's coverage.
During the autumn, we are targeting other Judges, and certain professional connected with report writing.
Yourself, and the following members of your staff are deemed to be writing unfair, unbalanced reports, always supporting the mothers wishes to end or minimise contact, ignore the mothers conduct no matter what & only listen to children's views if they are negative to the father;
The staff members are: Mr S Szulc (my nomination)
[three other names]
The same complaints are voiced time & again; endless litigation, aggressive Barristers, child psychiatrists who only interview children in the close proximity of hostile mothers, all funded by a bottomless purse. Indeed, whatever the 'status quo' is, (i.e. No contact, minimal contact) is litigated endlessly, when perhaps "progression" in a case would actually assist.
Our protests are totally lawful, we advocate strict compliance with law, we only exercise our right to public demonstration.
I only brought Dad's into being SOLELY because of the inability to progress my case in any way. Indeed, if my case was to progress, and by progress I mean move towards the frequent contact your predecessor supported if the mother was not harassed (compelling evidence of her false claims emerged in 1998) & as the two past Court Welfare Officers, I for one would end my involvement, which would inevitably see it's demise."
- The breathtaking cynicism of that last paragraph will be noted. As Wilson J had occasion to observe in 1997 (see paragraph 34 above) Mr Harris is entirely devoid of moral scruple. One wonders whether the members of DADS appreciate just how cynically they are being abused and manipulated by Mr Harris. The letter ended with this scarcely veiled threat to the Official Solicitor and his staff:
"If I was to progress, I would use the utmost of influence to ensure no protests were directed at the residential area's of you & your staff, as I said, I would personally abstain from any involvement too."
- The Official Solicitor responded on 8 September 2000:
"I deprecate your linkage of the points you raise with the prospect that you will target demonstrations against members of my staff. I, and they, shall continue to do our duty to act in what we see as the best interests of the children we represent."
- On 24 and 30 August 2000 there took place the seventh and eighth of the contempts to which I have already referred. On 24 August 2000, as previously on 25 April 2000 and again on 7 August 2000, Mr Harris entered the exclusion zone in circumstances which, I am satisfied (see paragraph 121 above) constituted breaches of paragraph (a), (d) and (h) of the injunction.
- On 30 August 2000 the eldest girl received through the post a page from the January-February 2000 issue of the FNF periodical 'McKenzie'. Mr Harris denied having sent the article. He does not dispute that the offending article was sent but says that it was sent by his girlfriend without his knowledge or approval. He admits in an affidavit that he did discuss the article with his girlfriend "and mentioned that I would like [the eldest girl] to see the article at some stage." Not surprisingly this was probed in cross-examination. In his evidence in chief he told me that he had said to his girlfriend, "I think [she] should see this." In cross-examination he admitted using words to the effect, "I really want [her] to see it" and "there is no way I can get it to her." He then added, disingenuously in my view, that he had not encouraged his girlfriend to send it. That, I am satisfied, is precisely what he did, even if he did no more than to have the conversation with his girlfriend that he described to me. By his words he was simply inviting his girlfriend to do the very thing which he "really wanted" to happen and which, as he pointedly told her, there was "no way" he could do himself. Mr Harris was inciting her to do his own dirty work for him, hoping and intending that she would, even if not asked in so many words, send his daughter the article. That, of course, is precisely what she did. She was his chosen tool to communicate with his daughter. She did it with his connivance and blessing, as he had expected that she would, even if he was careful not to say to her in so many words that she should. He is responsible for her acts. I am satisfied that in these circumstances Mr Harris breached paragraph (h) of the order by communicating with his daughter otherwise than through and with the approval of Plymouth just as if he, rather than his agent, had sent her the offending article. However, there is nothing to show that he either intended to annoy mother or that in fact he did. His daughter alone was on this occasion the target of his attentions. Accordingly I find the allegation of contempt proved in respect of paragraph (h) but not in respect of paragraph (d) of the order.
- On 9 September 2000 Mr Harris travelled to Dr Cameron's private residence in Surrey and threw a brick, which he had brought with him for that purpose all the way from Plymouth, through the window of Mrs Cameron's parked car. He delivered a letter to Dr Cameron which read in part:
"This regrettable action has been taken in the hope that your actions of dishonesty, neglect & greed can be elevated away from the corrupt family court's, where you are fully aware your actions in the past will be ignored, and into proper Court's, where perhaps some action will take place. ....
I am on my way to Richmond Police station to give myself up. I dare say you have masonic links with the higher ranks of the Metropolitain Police, but I do understand that even the freemasons will not accept Criminal behaviour from within it's own ranks.
I have the relevant documentation with me to back up what I have said about the Probation officer & Psychotherapist. I hope they chose to listen.
Do not think for one moment I will accept No Contact. You would be far better employed trying to progress contact for your fat fees."
- The next day (10 September 2000) Mr Harris wrote to the Official Solicitor. In the course of a long letter he said:
"You will inevitably get to hear of the action I took regarding Dr Cameron & his abuse of me & my children. I bitterly regret what I did, but if the only way his abuse of me, the children & the truth in regard to his pivotal report of September 99 can possibly be dealt with, then the course I took has some justification. I hope Dr Cameron AT LEAST withdraws that report ...., I would prefer it [sic] he withdrew himself from the case entirely. I believe the Police may well now have to look at what he did."
- The following day (11 September 2000) Mr Harris was again staging a protest outside Plymouth Combined Court Centre, distributing leaflets. The tone of the leaflet is shown by the following extracts:
"FAMILY COURT JUDGES ARE ABUSING MY THREE CHILDREN
I am Mark Harris, divorced father of three fine daughters, aged 9, 11, 13. Since my marriage breakdown in 1993, I've been to court 111 times over access difficulties .... The problem lies in the money corrupt & dishonest Barristers, Solicitors and child experts make out of the ongoing litigation .... Overleaf, I detail the home addresses of the Judges, and others who allow this abuse to continue. You should know who they are ...."
Then under the heading "SOME OF THE 25 Judges who allow this farce to continue" there are set out the names, private addresses and private telephone numbers of HHJ Wigmore, Bracewell J and Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P. A little lower down there are set out the names, private addresses, and in the case of Mr Oates the private telephone number, of the Official Solicitor and Mr Szulc.
- On 27 September 2000 Mr Harris again organised and was present at a so-called 'vigil' outside the private home in Devon of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P. Again there was coverage in the local newspaper, the News, published on 29 September 2000. In the course of the article the tendentious comment was made:
"The Marsh Green vigil organiser Mark Harris, of Plymouth, who has endured a long legal battle for access to his children, was at one stage jailed for waving at his children as they went to school."
- On 2 October 2000 (a date deliberately chosen because of its symbolic significance as the day when the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force) protests organised by Mr Harris were held in London outside the Royal Courts of Justice and later outside Downing Street. Photographs show that prominently displayed outside the Royal Courts of Justice was a large placard with the message:
"SORT OUT THE HARRIS CHILDREN CASE NOW!"
- A report of the anticipated events published the same day in the Torbay Herald Express quoted Mr Harris saying:
"Protest organiser Mark Harris said: 'All we are appealing for is equal treatment in the family courts. We want to tell Tony Blair to take a grip of his courts system and get this problem sorted out.
'We want the courts to exercise shared residence legislation for fathers to see their children because at the moment none of the fathers we know has that privilege.
'It seems as though some judges are still stuck in the 1950s where the father must be driven out of the family if they break up.'"
- On 4 October 2000 Holman J, of his own motion, made an order directing that there was to be a hearing for directions and any appropriate interim orders before me on 30 October 2000. At the same time he gave directions for that hearing.
- On 5 October 2000 there took place the ninth of the contempts to which I have referred. As previously on 25 April 2000 and again on 7 and 24 August 2000, Mr Harris entered the exclusion zone in circumstances which, I am satisfied (see paragraph 121 above) constituted breaches of the injunction, though on this occasion, as mother was not present, only of paragraph (a) and (h) and not paragraph (d) of the injunction.
- The next day (6 October 2000) the placing of a hoax bomb on the A38 caused widespread gridlock in Plymouth. Not surprisingly, this attracted widespread publicity in the media. In an article on the incident published in the Western Morning News on 10 October 2000 Mr Harris was referred to as
"Mark Harris .... who leads demonstrations by aggrieved fathers across the Westcountry and in London .... who has three children from his former marriage and is campaigning for increased access to them."
He was quoted as saying:
"'This is someone who has attached himself to the group. We would never condone something like this that disrupts the public or could jeopardise public safety.
'I don't know who it is. Feelings are running high. Divorced fathers feel they are suffering a grave injustice at the hands of the legal system that denies them their basic right to see their children. It is someone who has gone beyond the limit. But if you push people too hard they can lose their reason.
'If you take a man's responsibility away from him - ie, his children - then he probably starts behaving irresponsibly.'"
- The next day (7 October 2000) there took place the tenth and last of the contempts to which I have referred. Mr Harris approached his eldest daughter in town whilst she was out shopping in circumstances which I am satisfied involved a breach of paragraph (h) of the injunction. He admits to having talked with her on this occasion. He also had to admit that he had approached her, in the sense that he carried on walking towards her after he had first seen her, and then engaged her, albeit briefly, in conversation. Beyond that it would not be right to make findings adverse to Mr Harris in the absence of any direct evidence from his daughter.
- On the same day (7 October 2000) Mr Harris wrote to the Official Solicitor and, referring to the 'vigil' outside the President's house on 27 September 2000, said
"I enclose a copy of the news article regarding our vigil we staged outside the President of the Family Court's home on the 27 th Sept, for your information.
This was our third such event there.
I also enclose some photographs of the protest I organised outside the RCJ & number 10 on the 2 nd October. Yourself & Mr Szulc may well be interested in what the London branch of Dads' were able to do on it's first such demo in the capital.
You will see in photo 2 a number of people were supportive to sign not only my personal petition slips to Justice Holman, but also the national position to Tony Blair.
Many of the 150+ supporters (mainly London based) have been mistreated by you & your staff over access to loved children. Time & again the same story emerged; you only support the mother, you ignore the wishes of children for contact, but support any dissent by children who claim not to want contact.
My case is returning to Court on 30/10/00."
- His letter concluded with this scarcely subtle reference to the private addresses of the Official Solicitor and Mr Szulc:
"Why do you treat all non resident fathers so unjustly?
Would you (or Mr Szulc) care to explain your behaviour when the protesters come to [the places where you live]?
I hope you do not resist removal from this case."
The meaning of this threat - for threat it was - is obvious.
- Another bomb hoax on the A38 on 14 October 2000 again caused severe disruption and attracted further publicity. Mr Harris was quoted in the Express & Echo on 16 October 2000 saying:
"However Mark Harris, who heads Dads Against Discrimination, which has over 200 members in the West Country, today said he believed the same person could be behind both incidents.
'If it has anything to do with one of our members or supporters, we would appeal to them to give up this type of action and join in our legitimate peaceful, demonstration,' said the 41-year-old.
'We are trying to highlight the misjustices and injustices fathers face in family courts.
'These devices are not the way forward. The general public are not our enemy.
'Legitimate protest is one thing but putting the public in danger is out of order.
'I fully understand the frustration of the person concerned - but I would appeal to them to stop. I believe it could be someone who has come to one of our meetings and become upset at the lack of progress we have made so far.'
Mr Harris said he received a letter after the first incident from the person claiming responsibility.
'I appeal to the person concerned to get in touch and I assure them anything they say will be treated confidentially,' he added."
- On 18 October 2000, as I have already mentioned, mother issued her Notice of Motion seeking Mr Harris's committal for contempt. His immediate response the very same day was to write a letter to the mother's solicitors in which he made these threats:
"I am in receipt today of your client's committal application, which contains the usual Perjury, nonsense & exaggeration.
I note that [X] has made a statement.
Please ensure this witness is ready for cross examination.
I will especially be interested in asking [X] about [a] sexual relationship with ...."
I do not propose to read in public the next part of this deplorable and disgraceful letter. It ends as follows:
".... as Committal hearings are held in open court, I will also be inviting many past mutual friends to come, as they are quite entitled to.
Of course, if your client wishes to withdraw her application, [the matters relating to X] can remain undisclosed.
I will be writing to [X] early next week, warning [X] of the information I recall (in clear detail) so [X] can be warned of the content of my questions, in case [X] finds it embarrassing if not fore warned.
I give it until Monday 10am to hear before I take the necessary steps to head off this nonsense."
- It is impossible to read this letter without indignation. It contains the most outrageous and disgusting threats to embarrass and humiliate X not merely in public but in front of X's acquaintances. It is a blatant attempt to put pressure on the mother to desist from pursuing committal proceedings - committal proceedings so much justified that, as I have already said, I have found Mr Harris guilty of no fewer than ten of the contempts alleged by mother - and as such is itself, on the face of it, a very serious contempt of court indeed. It constitutes a clear statement of Mr Harris's intention to abuse the process of the court by asking wholly irrelevant questions for entirely collateral and improper purposes. It shows in my judgment that there are no depths to which this man will not stoop in order to have his way.
- On 25 October 2000 the next session of contact took place. The middle girl went alone, both of her sisters having again refused to go. According to mother, whose evidence I accept, her daughter returned saying that she might not attend the next session: Mr Harris questioned her about why her youngest sister did not attend, he went on and on about everyone, and said that he was looking forward to going to court the following Monday and would "kick my arse". As it turns out, this was her last contact with her father.
- On 30 October 2000 the directions hearing took place before me in Plymouth. Mr Harris appeared in person (the first time I had seen him). I made it clear to him that I viewed his letter to mother's solicitors dated 18 October 2000 in a very serious light. I told him that, in my view, it appeared to be a deliberate attempt to interfere with the proceedings and I said that I had considered reporting the matter to the Attorney-General.
- On 12 November 2000 mother found her car vandalised, this time having had paint stripper poured over it causing damage amounting to over £1,500. Again it was the only car in the street that was damaged. Not surprisingly, mother blames Mr Harris. More worrying, it is apparent both from mother's evidence and from the social worker's evidence that the children believe that their father was responsible and blame themselves, for they think it was done because they did not go to contact with the paternal grand-mother on 10 November 2000.
- During the weekend of 18-19 November 2000 Mr Harris organised and was present at a demonstration outside the private home in Somerset of Bracewell J. This time the protest was mounted jointly by DADS and EPP. There was again extensive coverage in local newspapers. Mr Harris was quoted in the Sunday Independent published on 19 November 2000. An article published in the Western Daily Press on 21 November 2000 contained the following reference to him:
"Mark Harris, who founded Dads Against Discrimination in April, said his battle for access had lasted seven years, resulted in 112 court appearances and cost the taxpayer an estimated £300,000.
The 41-year-old from Plymouth claims his ex-wife put a stop to his twice-weekly contact with their three daughters after they said they wanted to live with him.
'It has been dubbed Britain's worst access case and it's absurd,' said Mr Harris. 'I have appeared before 26 judges, including Justice Bracewell and the matter is still not resolved.'"
- Another article, published in the Western Gazette on 23 November 2000, contained this passage:
"Leader of Dads against Discrimination Mark Harris of Plymouth described how his life had been turned upside down.
'This has gone on for seven years since my divorce. I have been to court 112 times and to prison once trying to get the right to see my three daughters for only six days a year,' he said.
'Mrs Bracewell issued a directive while she was chairman of the Lord Chancellor's Children Act advisory committee that contact orders for children should not be enforced.
'The lower courts follow this to the letter so even where the court has ruled it is in the best interest of the child to see their father they will do nothing to enforce it.
'It condones child abuse where the mother is abusing the child by doing nothing to comply.
'Seeing my children is the most important thing in the world to me. This has been a blight on my and my children's lives,' he said."
- The Fosse Way magazine published on 24 November 2000 said this:
"A father of three led a demonstration .... on Saturday against what he says is the unfair treatment of fathers in family courts. Since his divorce in 1993, Mark Harris from Plymouth has notched up 112 court hearings to determine access to his daughters, aged nine, 11 and 14. The demonstration .... was held outside the .... home of Mrs Justice Bracewell, the 25th judge to review his case.
About 20 protesters took part. ....
Mr Harris, who lived in [the same place] as a child, claims his court fees and legal aid over the years have cost the taxpayer £300,000. He is allowed one day's access to his daughter each school holiday and he is
fighting to see them two days a week every week.
He said the demonstration staged by Dads Against Discrimination and the Equal Parenting Party aimed to draw attention to the treatment of fathers such as himself in the family courts."
- On 19 November 2000 Mr Harris wrote to a senior social worker at Plymouth:
"I write asking for your vigilance in this matter, to ensure some form of quality control is in place as Social Worker hostility towards me in the past has created the appalling mess this case is in.
Bringing a more general point to your notice, since the farcical case before Judge Bracewell in March, I have organised a protest group called Dad's Against Discrimination, the title being self explanatory.
I enclose a couple of recent news articles for your information.
Although we started off protesting outside Court's, this frankly got little attention. So we moved the protesting to outside homes of initially prominent Judges. We seem to have captured more attention!
Obviously, my motivation for this action is the mockery my case has become nothing else. I am not crusading for fathers generally, but linking with others to expose the injustices in my case.
Of note, if my case was actually resolved satisfactorily in January, I would take no further part in the Dad's movement. I live in hope.
If I have to continue to expand the Protest group, then next year I will be operating DADS as a full time, membership paying affiliation, with protests targeted at more Judges, and professionals who write bias [sic] reports to hinder access to much loved children. The press seem very hungry for these stories.
There are many angry fathers willing to take part in such actions in every town. I ask you for special vigilance as to what gets into Court reports & attitudes to fathers by your staff."
One notes again Mr Harris's cynical approach to the future of DADS.
- On 25 November 2000 Mr Harris wrote to the Official Solicitor a three page letter which began:
"I write to ask you to investigate what is rapidly appearing to be a corrupt collusion between the mother, your office, the Local Authority (possibly) & your expert"
- Referring to what I had said at the hearing on 30 October 2000 he continued:
"Your representative, Mr Szulc, will recall the words of Justice Munby to me over suggestions I made in a letter to the mothers Solicitor regarding the likely questioning of [X], and the issue of [X's] sexual relationship with ....
Munby J saw this as interfering with a witness, threatened to report me to the Attorney General, and indicated strong disapproval of my initial intention of simply warning a witness of likely embarrassing questions should [that person] choose to come to Court & commit perjury.
I fail to see, taking the Judge Munby view, that my simple warning of a witness about the likely nature of some questions is interfering with a witness, when clearly your office put pressure on other parties advocates & encourage/inspire the breaching of Court orders just to smoother/cover up incompetence & laziness of staff."
- Turning to DADS Mr Harris said:
"Moving on to my protest group, DADS, I trust you received the news articles on the Bracewell protest at her home last weekend
Frankly, I saw & heard nothing on 30/10/00 to make me think the next hearing (the 113 th ) will be anything more than the concerted attack on me by yourself & the Local Authority. I fail to see a Judge who represented you as recently as two years ago in a high profile case (the G .... case) can possibly do anything other than follow your recommendations as you were his paymasters so recently."
I interpolate to explain that this is a reference to the fact that, whilst at the Bar, I appeared on the instructions of the Official Solicitor in a case which is reported as Re G (Celebrities: Publicity)  1 FLR 409 . Mr Harris continued:
"I believe no impartiality can possibly take place while you remain parties.
I want the cycle of nonsense & farce brought to a close. I set up DADS solely on the back of the Bracewell farce, with the sole intention of getting public attention to my case, and my case alone. I think I am making a little headway in this respect.
A national paper, constrained by the absurd Publicity Injunction which appears unlawful, are "chomping at the bit" to do a complete story on this case from the Wilson order onwards.
Of course, I will protest [sic] the identies [sic] of the children in every way, but it is my intention, unless Contact is resolved, to expose the farce, corruption & waste of Public money that has infected this case since your office became involved.
DADS next year (I reiterate that if Contact is restored, DADS will be disbanded) will expand protests to the Homes of more Judges, intensify past protests outside the Presidents home, ditto Bracewell, and start to expose & target Professionals who act so bias against fathers.
I am considering, should Contact not progress or go backwards, turning DADS into a full time business."
- One notes again Mr Harris's cynical and unscrupulous manipulation of DADS. The true purpose of his letter appears from the following passage:
"I have established press links, and learned how to attract ongoing attention. However, I WOULD RATHER JUST SEE MY CHILDREN ON A REGULAR BASIS.
If I have to continue DADS, other than protests at the homes of professionals and Judges who dispense injustice, I would see 2001 consisting of absailing events down public buildings, chain up's to Courts (please see the attached booklet of my last chain up at Plymouth), convoy's of tractors towing trailers carrying messages of outrage over access to children, going from Plymouth to the RCJ, via Judges homes, your home, and other places to grab attention.
The Press have already indicated interest in such matters. Also, I would consider absailing down Motorway bridges to cause congestion & get attention to my plight (with others).
I would rather just see my children, in the way your predecessor in his very first report recommended if the mothers claims of Harassment were bogus."
- Mr Harris wrote a further letter to the Official Solicitor on 29 November 2000. On this occasion the ostensible subject of his complaints was the fact that, according to him, a social worker who had previously been involved in the case "openly lives" with her team leader. The tone of this letter sufficiently appears from the opening paragraph:
"I write to you to find out what your office policy is over allowing open, romantically linked homosexuals to write reports, give evidence & make recommendations for Court's over children issues"
and from the question he then posed:
"What objectivity did my complaints received when these two are 'an item'?
What credibility can homosexuals, openly hostile to men, bring to a children/family/contact situation, when their own lifestyle is so unnatural?"
- Its real purpose is found at the end:
"As I have indicated in recent correspondence, if my case does not reach satisfactory resolution in January, protests are to be intensified to the homes of corrupt & discriminating professionals who discriminate against fathers over children matters.
I think the national press will have a field day.
Please give your position."
- The Official Solicitor responded on 5 December 2000:
"I deprecate your repeated threats to escalate public demonstrations specifically aimed at judges or others involved in your case unless the court orders your contact to be increased. You fundamentally mistake the commitment they give to upholding the rule of law. This office will continue to do what it believes to be right in representing the best interests of your daughters and will not be deflected by such threats."
- The same day (29 November 2000) Mr Harris had also written in similar terms to the senior social worker at Plymouth to whom he had directed his earlier letter of 19 November 2000:
"I have since discovered a far more serious matter that needs addressing, not so much regarding 'putting anything right', but ensuring a repeat of past Social Worker behaviour does not take place.
I have been informed by a DADS member in the .... area that a past Social Worker in this case lives openly with another woman. ....
How on earth can homosexuals, openly hostile to normal males, involved in disputes with ex wives, over children, be allowed to write reports, make recommendations over contact, etc, when they themselves live alternative lifestyles, which are in direct conflict with matters they are to advise & recommend Court's over. ....
What assurances of quality control can you give over the next report being produced by [the] office, for the Court, when I found [the social worker] in Court last March to be so hostile, evasive & bias [sic] when giving evidence.
As I stated in my last letter, if I find my Contact situation is sabotaged by more corruption & siding up with my ex wife, DADS protests will also be shifted to the homes of corrupt & anti father professionals who mislead Courts. The home of [the social workers] will be the obvious first port of call.
I attach further coverage of the protest outside the home of Mrs Justice Bracewell less than two weeks ago.
Quality control of your reports is what I seek. Nothing else."
- On 8 December 2000, according to mother, she received a telephone call from Mr Harris in which he said:
"If you don't make sure the kids come to contact tomorrow, your's and [your sister's] cars are fucked up."
According to mother, he then put the phone down and she reported the matter to the police. Mr Harris denies making any telephone call at all to mother. I accept mother's evidence both that the call was made and as to what it was that Mr Harris said to her.
- Contact was indeed due to take place with father on 9 December 2000. All three girls refused to go. The contemporaneous contact records record mother telling all three girls in the presence of social workers that they ought to go. All three girls were insistent that they would not go. In fact there has been no contact with their father since.
- Later that day (9 December 2000) Mr Harris wrote to the Official Solicitor complaining about what he called "this blatant collusion & corruption."
- On or about 9 December 2000 Mr Oates and Mr Szulc received at their private addresses Christmas cards bearing the following text:
"SUPPORT EQUAL PARENTING
HOPING THAT YOUR CHRISTMAS
IS AS MISERABLE AS A
NON RESIDENT FATHERS
CHILDREN NEED BOTH PARENTS
Thanks to your
Corrupt & Secret
- The same Christmas card was sent to one of Plymouth's social workers and also, apparently, to Dr Cameron. It is a curious fact that both the social worker and Dr Cameron should have received the same card for, as pointed out by Plymouth, they share no other connection than this case. It would seem overwhelmingly likely that these cards were all sent by Mr Harris or by someone acting at his instigation. If so, they were sent to Mr Oates and Mr Szulc in breach of the undertaking which Mr Harris had given to the Court of Appeal on 15 August 2000.
- Contact was arranged again with Mr Harris on 16 December 2000. Again all three girls refused to go, the contemporaneous contact records again recording mother telling all three girls in the presence of social workers that they ought to go and all three girls insistent that they would not go. Indeed, the social workers felt it necessary to tell mother not to pressurise the children to go.
- On 20 December 2000 Dr Cameron visited mother and the children and subsequently Mr Harris. The children declined an invitation from Dr Cameron to accompany him to see their father.
- On 30 December 2000 Mr Harris wrote again to the Official Solicitor, complaining about what the Official Solicitor had been doing:
"As your actions since your offices' invite to represent the children almost FOUR YEARS AGO, I see you are still, just like Dr Cameron's visit 48 hours previously, gathering ammunition for the mothers claim .... I would like to take this opportunity to catalogue just some of the bizarre actions of your office which strangely trade as "acting in the interests of the children we represent."
The letter continues at some length with Mr Harris's version of events since May 1997, before stating
"YOU DO NOT ACT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF MY THREE DAUGHTERS IN ANY WAY."
- The letter then remarks:
"Our cases 27 th Judge has very recently represented your office in many cases (some very high profile) all I can hope is Mr Justice Munby does not feel some misplaced sense of loyalty to an office where he earned a very lucrative income for many years.
Because that would not serve my children's interests either."
- As I have already mentioned, when explaining a similar reference in father's letter to the Official Solicitor dated 25 November 2000 (see paragraph 174 above), this is a reference to the fact that, whilst at the Bar, I appeared on the instructions of the Official Solicitor in Re G (Celebrities: Publicity)  1 FLR 409 amongst other cases. I have to say that Mr Harris's complaints show a fundamental misunderstanding of the duties and responsibilities both of the barrister in practice at the independent Bar, whose Code of Conduct forbids him to compromise his professional standards in order to please his client, and of Her Majesty's judges, all of whom are sworn to "do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm without fear or favour affection or ill will."
- On 3 January 2001 the eldest girl wrote a long letter setting out what she called "my strong reasons, into not going to contact." She continued:
"I have numerous reasons for not wanting contact (in any form) and I'm hoping now being fourteen that I, as an individual, will be heard in this, what seems like, a never-ending battle."
- On 23 January 2001 the Treasury Solicitor wrote on behalf of the Attorney-General to Mr Harris's solicitors a letter before action seeking certain undertakings from him. This was on the basis that the Attorney-General was concerned in the light of recent events that his future conduct "may interfere substantially in the judicial process, in a manner which would constitute a contempt of court." The same day Mr Harris's solicitors replied saying that they were taking his urgent instructions and seeking Counsel's views. Mr Harris also replied the same day, inviting the Attorney-General to intervene to investigate what he called Dr Cameron's "corrupt & misleading report writing". On 26 January 2001 Mr Harris's solicitors wrote offering, on instructions, an undertaking, albeit more limited both in scope and in time than that sought by the Treasury Solicitor.
29 January to 2 February 2001 : the hearing at Plymouth
- The hearing, as I have said, began before me in Plymouth on 29 January 2001. Mr Harris, who had previously acted in person in the Family Proceedings, was now represented for all purposes by Ms Gina Small of Counsel. As before, mother was represented by Mr Robert Alford and the Official Solicitor by Ms Catherine Wood. Plymouth was represented by Ms Miranda Robertshaw of Counsel and the Attorney-General by Mr Mark Cunningham of Counsel.
- In the event, and as matters developed, at Plymouth I dealt successively, and as discrete issues, with
(i) The mother's committal application: I heard the evidence on 29 and 30 January 2001. On 31 January 2001 I announced my findings of fact, though without at that stage giving my reasons, and adjourned sentencing. As I have already mentioned, I found ten of the allegations made by the mother proved to the criminal standard of proof.
(ii) The Attorney-General's Proceedings: I heard the matter on 30 January 2001, after the conclusion of submissions in relation to the mother's committal application. An application for interim injunctions against Mr Harris was made by Mr Cunningham on behalf of the Attorney-General. That application was supported by a witness statement of Omar Yaqub, a barrister and legal officer in the General Public Law Team at the Treasury Solicitor's Department, dated 26 January 2001. He drew attention in particular to the matters referred to in paragraphs 142, 145, 150, 151, 160–161, 172–175 and 183 above. What the Attorney-General sought was injunctions restraining Mr Harris from communicating with Mr Oates, Mr Szulc, Dr Cameron or anyone else acting on behalf of or instructed by the Official Solicitor except at their official or business addresses and from approaching within half a mile of the private residences of Mr Oates, Mr Szulc and Dr Cameron. The application was made ex parte but on notice. Mr Harris had had no opportunity to answer the Attorney-General's evidence and Ms Small understandably objected to the Attorney-General proceeding at all without having given proper notice. However, I permitted the matter to proceed, in effect as an opposed ex parte application. After hearing submissions from Mr Cunningham and, in opposition, from Ms Small, I granted the Attorney-General interim injunctions over an inter partes hearing which I directed was to take place in London in March. The injunctions I granted restrained Mr Harris from communicating with Mr Oates, Mr Szulc, Dr Cameron or anyone else acting on behalf of or instructed by the Official Solicitor except at their official or business addresses and from entering the streets where Mr Oates, Mr Szulc and Dr Cameron have their private residences.
(iii) The remaining parts of the Family Proceedings (apart from the injunctions sought by Plymouth and the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997): On 31 January 2001, having announced my findings in relation to the alleged contempts, I next proceeded to hear evidence on the remaining issues in the Family Proceedings. In addition to a mass of older material (much of it already described), I had a substantial volume of written evidence, including a further report from Dr Cameron dated 18 January 2001. I heard oral evidence from, amongst others, Mr Harris, the mother and Dr Cameron.
- Without opposition from anyone, and with the agreement of Mr Harris, on 1 February 2001 I saw the eldest girl in my private room. The only other person present was my (female) Clerk. Shortly after I had reported to the parties the gist of the more significant things she had said to me Mr Harris through counsel told me that he was not pursuing any application for direct contact with her.
- The hearing in Plymouth ended on Friday 2 February 2001 when I reserved judgment on the issues I had heard and adjourned for hearing in London on Thursday 22 March 2001 those issues which there had not been time to deal with at Plymouth, that is
(iv) the sentencing of Mr Harris for the contempts of court which I had found proved;
(v) the inter partes hearing of the Attorney-General's Proceedings;
(vi) the hearing of Plymouth's application for injunctions (Mr Harris had had no opportunity to answer Plymouth's evidence by the time the hearing at Plymouth finished); and
(vii) the further consideration of the issues arising in relation to the contra mundum order.
Events from 2 February to 21 March 2001
- A number of things happened after I reserved judgment on 2 February 2001 that I ought to record. First, on 2 March 2001 Mr Harris wrote me the following letter:
"It is now four weeks since the case ended, but there is still no sign of a contact order.
As you could not have failed to have noticed, [my eldest daughter] has been totally alienated by lack of contact, and the other two are going that way.
That is child abuse, and it's unacceptable. I hope you agree.
Therefore, in the absence of my Solicitor due to holiday, I apply for emergency interim contact of initially two hours each Friday, collection from the schools, for [my younger daughters], with directions that both schools have these children ready for collection at their receptions on each of the next four Friday's, with a known social worker - Mr [S] if available for the first two collections.
Although the destruction of father/child relationships attracts compensation via European Law, I prefer contact with at least the two younger children.
Alienation gets worse the longer matters are left. I have not seen [my youngest daughter] since May, [the middle one] since October, despite them both thoroughly enjoying their last visits with me.
Please put in place some immediate contact to stop this escalation of destruction still further.
Of note, the mother does never have to wait very long at all for orders she wants, and the Local Authority & Attorney General can gatecrash my applications at will for immediate attention. I hope you see my point in writing this letter."
- In addition to sending a number of copies of this letter to me by fax Mr Harris also faxed copies to the Action Department, to the Clerk to the President of the Family Division and to the Civil Appeals Office. I might add that in acting in this way Mr Harris was reverting to his habit of bombarding the judges - and in particular Holman J - with a variety of faxed missives.
- Secondly, on Saturday 3 March 2001 a group of what the local newspaper called "irate dads" demonstrated outside the Home Counties home of His Honour Judge Tyrer. He, so far as I am aware, has never had any connection with these proceedings. The local newspaper's account of events included the following reference to Mr Harris:
"Mark Harris, of Dads Against Discrimination, said: "Although my kids love seeing me and I have a court order which says I can have contact with them, the judges just will not enforce it. If the mother does not like it the judges just shrug their shoulders as they do not want to create a fuss.""
- Displayed at this demonstration and outside other judges' houses at about this time were posters attacking Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, Thorpe LJ, Bracewell J and HHJ Tyrer. I do not propose to describe these posters in detail. They were expressed in absurd and extreme terms. Each of them was adorned with swastikas. The poster attacking the President carried a satirical representation of the President and the caption
"If BSE Infected Meat is Bad for Kids .... Why is This Mad Cow in Charge of Family Courts?"
The poster attacking HHJ Tyrer was headed "TYRER or TYRANT" and asserted that he:
"Abuses the HUMAN RIGHTS of CHILDREN and FATHERS in his role as a Judge in the British Family Courts Which:-
+ Holding ALL hearings in SECRET. Exposing the details is 'Contempt of Court'.
+ Issuing INJUNCTIONS with threat of JAIL and CONFISCATION of Assets to enforce the above. (A BREACH of the Human Right to 'Freedom of Expression'
+ Awarding SOLE residence to one parent ...."
And so on.
- The UKMM website contains two accounts of the demonstration outside HHJ Tyrer's house. One, which also contained an explicit reference to Mr Harris, referred to HHJ Tyrer's daughter:
"It was a storming success. The defining moment must have been when the judge's daughter came out to find what was going on. Starting from being rather alarmed, after some debate with us, I think she left even more worried about what Daddy et al had been up to in the family courts. The neighbour was classic, charging to rescue the damsel in distress .... It was difficult to have too much sympathy with the judge's daughter, she could spare a thought for ....
and there then followed various comments, some quite plainly referring, if not by name, to Mr Harris. The other account recorded that:
"Unfortunately for the demonstrators, the judge was not at home, but his 17-year old daughter .... was visibly upset by the protests. She told the demonstrators: "It's nothing to do with me. I don't know what you're here for. My parents are away. Please go away and come back when he is here. I am on my own.""
It may be that the judges are felt by such people to be fair game for their demonstrations. It is contemptible that people - particularly people who profess to be protesting in the interests of children - should gloat in this way at the upset they imagine (probably quite wrongly) they cause the children of those they seek to target.
- The same website, publicising further demonstrations outside judges' houses planned for the weekend of 29–31 March 2001, exhibited a poster headed:
"Paedophiles .... are not the only Child Abusers
Each year hundreds of thousands of children are abused by the Secret and Corrupt Family Courts which:-
+ Hold ALL hearings in SECRET .... [etc]
The British Equivalent of the Nazi Death Camps ...."
- It appears that these ridiculous views are shared by Mr Harris, for in a letter dated 15 March 2001 which he sent to HHJ Tyrer he said:
"I believe, in years to come, the historians will look back at the ritual destruction of father/child relationships as barbaric, and will place the names Thorpe, Butler-Sloss, Bracewell, Holman, Tyrer, etc in the same class of barbarians as the Nazi's."
Mr Harris and his like merely demean themselves and show their gross insensitivity to the victims of Nazi tyranny when they make such preposterous and absurd comparisons.
- The next day (16 March 2001) Mr Harris faxed me, marked *VERY URGENT*, a letter dated 15 March 2001 containing the information that his eldest daughter had recently cashed the cheque for £100 which he had sent her for Christmas. In the course of his letter he said:
"Never has the need for IMMEDIATE restoration of contact with [the younger two] been needed, with EVERY opportunity for [the eldest] to join in (i.e. I pick her sisters up at school so she can just come along if she wants) than now. Please do not fail my children & I."
22 to 23 March 2001 : the adjourned hearing in London
- I can deal comparatively briefly with the hearing which resumed before me in London on 22 and concluded on 23 March 2001. Mr Harris was present throughout the proceedings until being removed by the Tipstaff shortly after 4pm on 23 March 2001 for removal to HM Prison Pentonville (see paragraph 214 below).
- I first handed down the draft of the Main Judgment and then proceeded to hear the Attorney-General's Application. Mr Harris and the Attorney-General had agreed the terms of certain undertakings which Mr Harris was prepared to give to the court. Those undertakings are in the same terms as the injunctions I granted on 30 January 2001 (see paragraph 193 above). They are to remain in force until 21 September 2001. Mr Harris gave the agreed undertakings, received from me the required warnings as to the effect of an undertaking and the consequences of any non-compliance, and signed the relevant form.
- The matter was then adjourned to the following day, when I dealt first with certain questions as to the form of the order. A number of minor, essentially drafting, amendments to the draft were canvassed before me. I do not need to go into detail. The final form of order which I made is attached to this judgment. Mr Harris and Plymouth had agreed the terms of certain injunctions which are also to remain in force until 21 September 2001. Very slightly re-drafted to accommodate the language of the other parts of the order these injunctions are to be found in paragraphs 10(a)(iii), 10(b)(ii), 10(c)(ii) and 10(g) of the order.
- I then heard submissions from counsel on two linked questions: first, as to whether the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997 should be continued; secondly, as to whether that part of paragraph 10 of the order which is intended to replace the injunctions granted by Sir Stephen Brown P on 20 November 1997 (and, if it is to be continued, also the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997) should be qualified by the words in paragraph 11 of the order.
- At the end of argument on these points I announced that I had decided, for reasons which I would give in a further judgment to be delivered on a future occasion, that
(i) there should continue to be an injunction contra mundum;
(ii) both that injunction and the relevant paragraphs of the in personam injunction should be qualified by the words in paragraph 11 of the order; and
(iii) the "public domain" proviso (proviso number (ii)) to the contra mundum order (see paragraph 92 above) should be amended to bring it into line with the form of order made by the Court of Appeal on 25 January 2001 in Attorney-General v Times Newspapers Limited  EWCA Civ 97,  CAT 01/0085 (the MI6/Tomlinson case).
My reasons for coming to these conclusions are now set out in Part X of this judgment. There is also attached to this judgment the form of contra mundum order I then made.
- I next heard mitigation from Ms Small in relation to each of the ten contempts which I had on 31 January 2001 found proved against Mr Harris. Her submissions concluded just before the short adjournment. After the short adjournment I sentenced Mr Harris. My remarks are set out in the Sentencing Judgment.
- Speaking generally of the ten contempts I said:
"I am satisfied that the effect of your repeated contempts has been to leave your former wife and children with a beleaguered feeling of being stalked and harassed. I recognise and take into account the fact that, in part at least, that feeling has been brought about by your other antics which do not involve any contempt of court. But I am left in no doubt at all that your many breaches of HHJ Cottle's injunction have contributed very significantly to the feeling I have mentioned, not least because their knowledge that you appear to treat the orders of the court with such disdain can only increase their sense of never knowing what you are going to do next and when.
I have listened very carefully to everything your counsel has said in mitigation on your behalf. In particular, as she asked me to, I have considered the context in which these contempts were committed, a context in which, viewed from your perspective, you were desperate to 'kick-start' the contact which, as you thought, was being frustrated by others. I accept that the fact that contact with your eldest daughter had by now completely broken down and that comparatively soon contact with the youngest was also to break down was something that caused you distress. I cannot, however, overlook the fact that each of these contempts involved conscious actions on your part that you knew perfectly well involved breaches of the court's orders. Your counsel has proffered your apologies. In the circumstances I cannot accept them as being sincere. Even if they were they would at this late stage be of comparatively little moment. I recognise that, as your counsel has submitted, if you go to prison your employment may come to an end and that you may have difficulty finding new employment. That weighs with me, but not, I have to say, very much. I recognise and give credit for the fact that none of these contempts involved either the use or threat of violence."
- For each of the contempts on 2 April and 7 October 2000 (see paragraphs 112 and 159 above) I sentenced Mr Harris to a fine of £250. I said:
"I take a comparatively lenient view of [these] contempts. I proceed on the footing that neither occasion was planned or premeditated. Nonetheless, I cannot overlook the fact that on each occasion, having first seen the children you nonetheless continued to approach and then spoke to them, albeit briefly."
- For each of the contempts on 20 April, 26 April, 27 June and 30 August 2000 (see paragraphs 113, 124, 132 and 149 above) I sentenced Mr Harris to four months' imprisonment, those sentences to be concurrent with each other. I said:
"I take a much more serious view of [these] contempts. Each of these involved planned and deliberate action. Whatever excuses you may now try to put forward, you must have known on each occasion that what you were doing was a clear and obvious breach of the injunction. As I said in my judgment yesterday, your defence to [the first] is absurd. So far as concerns [the second and third], the fact that, despite all that had previously happened, you chose to behave in this manner and then just try to shrug off the matter as somehow inconsequential or to be forgiven illustrates perfectly, as I remarked in my judgment yesterday, both the contemptuous disregard you display to the court's orders and your total failure to appreciate the effects such antics have on your daughters.
Your worst punishment is probably the fact that it is precisely because of your own behaviour that none of your three daughters any longer wants anything to do with you. Your eldest daughter refused to continue to have contact with you following an earlier contempt of court dealt with by Kirkwood J on the occasion I have already mentioned. Your youngest daughter has refused to have contact with you following [the] contempt [on 27 June 2000]. The cumulative impact of all these contempts is, I have no doubt, prominent amongst the reasons why none of your daughters is now prepared to have contact with you.
I take that into account. I also take into the fact that to a greater or lesser degree each of the communications was, at least in terms of its content, fairly innocuous. The presents which form the subject of [the second] contempt were, as presents, entirely appropriate, nor were there any hidden messages inserted in them. The note which forms the subject of [the third] contempt was not merely innocuous but positive in its content. The enclosures which form the subject of [the first and fourth] contempts are rather less innocuous. Nonetheless, these contempts simply cannot be condoned. Not merely did each of these actions involve a clear contempt. In each case it is the very fact that you were communicating, in the one case with your former wife and in the other cases with your children, when they did not wish to receive your communications and when they believed they were to be protected from your unwanted attentions that makes these matters so serious. These four contempts, I have little doubt, contributed powerfully to their feeling of being stalked and harassed."
- For each of the remaining four contempts, that is his invasion of the exclusion zone on 25 April, 7 August, 24 August and 5 October 2000 (see paragraphs 114–121, 139, 148 and 157 above), I sentenced Mr Harris to six months' imprisonment, those sentences to be concurrent with each other but consecutive to the sentences of four months which I had imposed in relation to the other contempts, in all, therefore, a total of ten months. I said:
"The remaining contempts .... are, in my judgment, more serious. As I said when giving judgment yesterday, you have shown yourself more than willing to embark for your own purposes on quite deliberate defiance of the injunction prohibiting you from entering the exclusion zone.
You have admitted entering the exclusion zone "on a number occasions". In the course of giving evidence before me you casually and without the slightest sense of shame, embarrassment or remorse, admitted to having done so on occasions other than those complained of by mother, having gone in, as you claimed "when I thought I would not be seen." You have sought to justify or extenuate your actions by claiming that your work as a driving instructor necessitates your going into the exclusion zone. That merely demonstrates your quite deliberate defiance of the injunction, your cavalier contempt for the court and its orders, and your total disregard of the very clear warning given to you by the President when she refused to accept your work as a driving instructor as any reason for discharging this part of the injunction.
More than that, however, and for reasons which I have set out at some length in the judgment which I delivered yesterday, I am quite satisfied that your pretended justification is just humbug. The simple fact is that your work as a driving instructor does not necessitate your going into the exclusion zone. I am quite satisfied, as I said in my judgment, that your purpose when you go into the exclusion zone, even if you seek to mask this purpose on occasions by taking along a pupil as cover, is to try and have contact or make communication with the children in circumstances where you are totally indifferent to the effects this may have either on your former wife or for that matter on your children."
- In all, therefore, Mr Harris was sentenced to a total of ten months' imprisonment and fines totalling £500. Ms Small then applied for bail pending an appeal. I dismissed that application.
IV Expert Evidence
- The most significant of the expert evidence before me was in Dr Cameron's fourth report dated 18 January 2001. This is an important document that I propose to quote at some length.
- Early on in his report Dr Cameron reported his discussions with the girls on the occasion when he visited their home on 20 December 2000. Much of what he told me is confidential and it would be quite wrong to repeat it in public. This part of his report concluded:
"there was a clearly entrenched decision not to go to see him this time. The girls have a united view."
- Dr Cameron began his discussion with this observation:
"All three girls have residual affection for their father, but are dismayed by his apparently blind insensitivity to their feelings both (a) during their contact visits, when he questions and emotionally pressurizes them, and (b) by his aggressively intrusive insinuation of himself into their lives, unasked, between contact visits. Because he carries a pervasive threatening aura about him, the three girls feel both angry at him, and fearful of him, for they know they are constantly at risk of being stalked and harassed by him.
The sustained pressure on his daughters, which Mr Harris has exerted, has resulted in the three girls refusing to have any further direct contact with their father."
- Of contact he said:
"The girls could not be shielded from Mr Mark Harris' demonstrations in Plymouth, about which he is proud, nor could they be protected from the impact of their father on their home and maternal family generally. Eventually, his pressurized questioning on their contact visits combined with his outside contact stalking and other activities, decided them to stop going on contact visits."
- He then turned to consider mother:
"[Mother] has largely cooperated with the contact orders of the Court. She did not approve or welcome the regular direct contact order but, from my own observation on one occasion and from the reports of the social workers, she has, in the main, prepared the children well and encouraged them to go.
The mother, nevertheless, does feel that she and her family, and her daughters, have been emotionally bombarded by 'not knowing' quite when Mr Mark Harris is going to force himself into their lives yet again. Each member of her family feels stalked and harassed by the father, never quite knowing when he is going to pursue them next.
Despite the strains imposed on her, [mother] continues to parent her three daughters well, and the girls' exceptionally good progress, in all areas of their lives, is evidence of the settled and understanding upbringing they are receiving at home."
- Turning to Mr Harris Dr Cameron said:
"Mr Mark Harris has conducted a campaign of intrusive demonstrations. In the early years he used to stalk and wave at his children, when they were on their way to school (captured by covert TV surveillance). His campaign intensified, and by seeking out the girls and their mother, and by intruding into the exclusion zone, as well as by covertly sending messages, he has persistently inched himself into the family's awareness, so that they now feel constantly watched and followed by him.
So as to achieve his ends, Mr Mark Harris has chosen to use similarly intrusive stalking and demonstration tactics against legal, social work, and other professionals involved in his case. He thinks intimidation works.
It now seems apparent, from the way this case has developed, that Mr Mark Harris has twin campaigns which he is pursuing at the same time:-
(i) First, the genuine wish to cure the 'contact dispute' and have fulfilling regular staying contact visits by all three of his children, as occurs in the average post-divorce situation.
(ii) Secondly, a campaign to irritate, intimidate, and undermine the professionalism of social workers, lawyers and doctors involved in the case, with the intention that his menaces should distort the impartial advice normally given to Courts in this type of private family law case."
- Dr Cameron then posed the questions, In whom lies the problem? Who is the patient? In the course of answering these questions he said:
"These children do not have a problem within themselves. Their 'contact refusal' is a simple reaction against the pressurizing questioning and undermining influence of their father, who seems to try to make them say negative and critical things about their maternal family, as well as indirectly pursuing and hassling them in their ordinary daily lives. They have had enough of their father's activities, and they do not think he is likely to stop.
Is [mother] a 'parental alienator'? The answer is - No. Although she resisted the children's direct contact with their father she has cooperated with the Court Order and encouraged the children to continue seeing their father for as long as possible. Both the representative of the local authority who escorts the children on contact, and myself, have observed the children being prepared by their mother for a direct contact visit. She does so calmly and efficiently, taking a broadly supportive stance. There is none of the emotional enmeshment, between [the girls] with their mother, which is seen in cases where 'parental alienation' has occurred. Instead, the mother has promoted contact with both paternal grandparents, as well as with the father, and the three children are being brought up with a balanced family knowledge of both sides of their family. The 'contact problem' is not located in the mother.
This father has a hungry need for his daughters to be with him, and has sought to have more and more of them."
- He continued:
"In consequence there has been a gradual emotional strain growing within them, coinciding with their visits to their father's home, and their sense of trust and confidence in him has weakened. His public demonstrations have had the unfortunate effect of lowering his reputation still further in his daughters' eyes. Whether fair or not, the girls attribute the petrol hosepipe cutting, and the paint stripper application on their car, directly to their father. They say, - "Who else would have done it?"
The conclusion is that this father is obsessively driven to try to 'win' the contact argument about his children, so that he conquers the opposition from all, and seizes the children, as his possessions, into his own home.
Throughout the long history of this contact dispute, the father has been unable to content himself with the contact occasions which have been arranged. He has constantly grasped for more. He is unable to see that by his pressurizing interaction with his daughters and by his hostile stalking and harassing activities against the maternal family, he is the author and cause of his daughters refusing to have any further direct contact with him."
- Answering the question, Is Mr Harris a 'victim' of post-divorce contact refusal, Dr Cameron said:
"Mr Mark Harris believes that he is one of those 'meritorious' fathers who is being denied contact. He is mistaken. His children had regular enjoyable contact visits with him, as he himself has remarked, and it is his own pressurizing questioning during the contact occasions, combined with his hostile stalking and harassing between contacts, which has led to all three girls refusing to have contact visits with him anymore.
Mr Harris needs to ask not 'what can my children do for me'? (i.e. my rights), but 'what can I do for my children'? (i.e. my responsibility)."
- Addressing the question, Is this an extreme case? He continued:
"By his unrelenting emotional psychological pressure on the mother and the maternal family generally, by his constant pressurizing questioning of the children on contact visits, by his intimidatory menacing of social work and other mental health professionals, and by his public demonstrations and protests against the judiciary, Mr Mark Harris has succeeded in making this an exceptional case.
Despite the immense amount of professional time taken up by Mr Mark Harris' legal and other activities, at the heart of this contact dispute are three girls growing up well in a loving home provided by their mother.
Perhaps because of his solitary life experience, Mr Mark Harris looks on this contact dispute as a problem to be won, rather than as a human situation which calls for cooperation and understanding acceptance by all. He remains determined to win, and he cannot understand that it is his own actions which have caused his daughters to reject him."
- Dr Cameron expressed his essential conclusions as follows:
"I consider there should be a firm 'no direct contact order' to last for the foreseeable future. .... The emotional strain, on the children from having direct contact with their father, is harmful and far outweighs any benefit they derive from seeing him. All three girls are of an age to know that their father is alive and well, and they would like to see him at some time in the future. ....
If the father can make recognizable sincere strides to ameliorate his own difficulties and curb his behavioural excesses, then it is just possible that contact could be started again in the future. .... So far as indirect contact is concerned, the good regular letters sent by Mr Mark Harris have outlived their usefulness. He should leave his daughters to get on with their lives, and send them Christmas and birthday cards and one summer holiday postcard annually. Within each birthday and Christmas card he could, if he so wishes, include a Bank of England note, so that each of his daughters can buy a 'daddy's present' for themselves.
No distinction should be made between the three children."
- Assessing the personalities of the adults Dr Cameron said:
"[Mother] is bringing up her three daughters well and has discharged her maternal caring duties towards the girls admirably. This family is a delight to visit. Each of the three girls has a remarkably different personality, and yet there is a harmonious living together unity which gives their home a sense of proper family life. As an individual, [mother] has quiet determination but can get squashed by a more powerful authority. She is not a devious or underhand person, and she regrets the years she spent living with Mr Mark Harris when she felt her values were corrupted. In my opinion, she has not exaggerated their father's misdemeanours to her daughters, and they have been able to observe many of his public activities for themselves.
The father remains embittered, hostile towards the mother and all authority, feeling that he himself has been wronged, and is determined to battle the matter out against everyone, outside the Courts, if the case does not go his way. Mr Mark Harris' personality is coloured by (a) some features found in dissocial personality disorder, and (b) an obsessive self-willed determination to get his rights by whatever means. This combination means that Mr Mark Harris is, at times, not an entirely rational being. He idolizes the 'rightness of himself' and attributes to others a near-paranoid plot against him, which is denying him his rights to have a full relationship with his daughters. He is filled with self-pity.
The worry is that this solitary man seems to be becoming more and more desperate. He makes menacing remarks, and goes to considerable lengths to discomfort Family Law professionals seeking to assist with his case. If he himself, or his agents, were responsible for the fire-setting at the maternal grandmother's home, and/or the petrol hose-pipe cutting of the mother's car, then such actions show a reckless disregard for the safety of others."
- At a later point in his report Dr Cameron returned to Mr Harris:
"Mr Mark Harris loves his children and feels desolate without them. He wishes to fill the emptiness in his private life with his children. But children are neither 'need-meeters' nor 'comfort blankets' to fill gaps in adults' lives. His children deserve respect, and should not be used as emotional props. These three girls are growing up and, as each of them is so very different, each deserves cherishing in their own particular way.
Mr Mark Harris has obsessive traits, which enable him to focus with tunnel vision on a particular task. He did this successfully during his fraud career, when he amassed a sizeable capital sum of money. He has turned that same obsessive tunnel vision towards his contact dispute, but cannot distinguish between forces promoting contact (namely the professionals who start from a presumption of contact in post-divorce cases), and activities which jeopardize contact. He is blind to the fact that his own antisocial behaviour, noticed by his children, has damaged his image in their eyes, and this compounded with his ceaseless pressurizing of them emotionally, form the essence of his being the sole author of the contact breakdown.
There are two possible ways forward for this father:-
(i) Either he will accept the need to work with a professional, perhaps Dr N, to understand how he can come to be seen as a 'meritorious' father in the eyes of his children, the mother and the authorities,
(ii) or his campaign of public displays and aggression will escalate, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of his children and other family members, and extend into ever more dramatic public displays drawing attention to his alleged plight."
- Dr Cameron then turned to what he called a risk assessment:
"In my opinion there is a real, but unquantifiable, risk of Mr Mark Harris causing harm to property or people, either by his own actions, or by those acting on his behalf, as his disappointment and desperateness at being denied contact takes hold.
Mr Mark Harris' behaviour as a non-custodial father having contact difficulties, is extreme and outside ordinary experience. The escalation from roof-top protests to public displays outside the Courts in Plymouth ad London, to claiming to be the hoax bomber on the A38, to breaking car windows, to being allegedly involved with petrol hosepipe cutting and allegedly fire setting of the mother-in-law's fence, all point to a gradual increase in the graveness of his actions. Although these dramatics are side issues, much as are his numerous legal applications, the escalating desperateness of his efforts raises concern that he could easily, next time, go too far and cause permanent injury or worse. He promises this, when he says menacingly, - "I ain't going away."
Throughout his campaign, Mr Mark Harris has felt entirely justified about the rightness of his actions and is determined to get his own way. His mechanism of projecting all the blame onto others, so that harming them becomes, in his eyes, entirely justified, is seen more often in criminal psychiatry than in family work.
When Mr Mark Harris' personality structure is considered, when his escalating campaign is considered, and when the fact that he has no personal family support whatsoever, it is clear that the balance of his mind could easily be tipped towards actual violence. After such an episode has occurred, all the authorities will say that many predictive warning signs were present, and were not heeded.
Mr Harris has stated that it is his intention not to go away, and ominously states he will not accept a No Contact Order."
- Dr Cameron then turned to consider Mr Harris's relationship with the children's schools:
"Mr Mark Harris cannot be regarded as a 'meritorious' father. He does not support his children financially, nor has he been able to sustain a positive-enough relationship with them on day contact visits for their trust in him to grow. ....
Mr Harris is seen as a negative influence by all three of his children, and if he wishes to earn their respect and trust he must begin to respect their right to get on with their own lives without feeling constantly harassed and stalked by him. His seeking to find out about their lives at school, would be seen by the three children as their father yet again insinuating himself unacceptably in their midst.
If the father aims to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his children, then he should delegate sole responsibility for permission-giving for school trips etc. to the mother. The father should be told about the events, in an end of term report, but his children will be harmed if they know their father is informed and might stalk them on school outings.
This father has shown himself unable to restrain himself from breaking Injunctions and from impulsively seeking out his daughters such as at [the superstore], or when he pursued [the eldest girl] into school. He is unaware of the harmful impact which his sudden appearances have on them. Were the father to know that any of the girls were going on a particular school trip, there is a chance that he would appear and impose himself on them publicly. His word that he would not do so cannot be trusted."
- Dr Cameron concluded by setting out his recommendations in numbered paragraphs, the most important being as follows:
"1 Echoing the three children's determined action and wishes, arising out of their experiences, a no direct contact order by the Court will strengthen them, and reassure them that their unhappy experiences have been listened to, understood, and acted upon appropriately.
2 Indirect contact should continue, confined to:-
(1) One summer holiday postcard annually to each child.
(2) One birthday card to each child, enclosing a Bank of England note.
(3) One Christmas card to each child, enclosing a Bank of England note.
The messages should be concise, affectionate and not pressurizing. ....
4 The exclusion zone injunctions, perhaps with a Power of Arrest, are needed to guarantee the children's continuing peace of mind in their own home.
5 .... Mr Mark Harris' desperation is increasing, and gradually moving him towards committing more dramatic acts. From a child and family psychiatric perspective the risk is real, it is getting closer, but it is not quantifiable. The risk is violence.
6 .... If Mr Harris really does wish to see his children, and re-establish normal relationships with them, then he needs to consult a professional of his own choice, admit he has a contact problem, and try to overcome it. ....
7 From my recent interviews with the children, from my previous knowledge of the case, and from my discussions with professionals such as the social workers who know the children well, I consider that these children have been subjected to ' emotional abuse ' by their father, which has been detrimental to their welfare. ....
8 Following the principle that children benefit from direct contact with the non-custodial parent, the Court ordered a resumption of direct contact. Despite the girls receiving excellent support from Plymouth Social Services Department and from their mother whenever they went on contact visits, the father could not stop himself using pressurized intrusive questioning during the direct contact visits, nor could he cease stalking and harassing the children and the maternal family in between visits. His psychologically stressful and damaging actions have removed his children's trust in him and respect for him, and they now refuse to go on contact.
The children were used as a litmus paper test, to see whether this father was ready to behave responsibly on direct contact visits. The children's emotional well-being, and trusting affection for their father, were risked in this 'trial of contact'
9 The children's welfare is likely to be enhanced by:-
(1) No direct contact order.
(2) Indirect contact by Christmas and birthday cards (enclosing a Bank of England note) and one summer postcard to each child, to continue.
(3) The exclusion zone injunctions, perhaps with power of arrest, to continue.
(4) Mr Mark Harris personally consulting Dr N, voluntarily.
(5) Being told the above, and that they will not be troubled any more by their father for the time being."
- Dr Cameron gave evidence before me and, not surprisingly, was cross-examined by Mr Harris's counsel at length. The longer he remained in the witness-box the more impressive and compelling his analysis of the case was seen to be. On some peripheral matters he was prepared to make some adjustments but on all matters of substance his evidence and analysis remained undented by cross-examination. He was emphatic, and gave convincing reasons for being so, that this was not, as Mr Harris would have it, a case of parental alienation syndrome. He said baldly, and I accept, that Mr Harris's assertion was simply clinically and diagnostically wrong. He had seen enough of the children with their mother to be able to say that they were normal children; they were not being enmeshed and they were not psychologically disturbed. He welcomed Mr Harris's initiative in approaching Dr N, though he was not optimistic as how successful it would be, as he was doubtful about Mr Harris's ability to keep at it, and thought it would inevitably have to be a gradual process that would take time.
V Some Preliminary Matters
- Before coming to the specific matters in issue before me there are certain preliminary matters that it is convenient to deal with at this stage.
- Mr Harris relies upon a number of past episodes as showing that mother is not merely an unreliable but on occasions an untruthful witness. I have dealt with this at length in the Main Judgment and do not propose to do so in public. It suffices for present purposes to set out my conclusion.
- At the end of the day I am wholly unpersuaded by all this material that mother is a witness who can be shown to have been in the past either untruthful or dangerously unreliable. What it does suggest, probably unsurprisingly, is that, as in so many cases where passions on both sides run as high as they do in this case, mother's evidence, particularly on matters of detail, needs to be scrutinised with care. That said, I should make absolutely clear that, throughout her oral evidence in front of me, mother impressed me as a witness who was trying to tell the truth and whose evidence was accurate and reliable. I am satisfied that none of her evidence involved either fabrication or embellishment. I accept is as truthful and in all essentials as reliable.
- Mr Harris also relies upon certain past episodes as showing, so he says, that on occasions, far from him harassing or pestering mother, it was mother who sought him out for confrontation and harassed and pestered him. Again I do not propose to deal with these matters in public but only to state my conclusion.
- I do not doubt that on a few occasions mother, goaded beyond endurance by his relentless campaign, has retaliated in kind. On occasions she has told him to "piss off" and, it may be, used language and gestures of the kind traditionally associated with the fish-wife. Who can blame her? Even the meekest and mildest of saints would have been driven to distraction by Mr Harris's behaviour. It seems to me almost wholly beside the point. Whatever could be proved against mother, and I suspect it is very little, pales into total insignificance compared to Mr Harris's relentless and incomparably more serious antics. Nothing that mother has done can even begin to justify even a fraction of Mr Harris's actions. And he has to remember that it was he who first began, and who has for years now been carrying on, his never ending war with mother. I agree with what Wilson J said about mother (see paragraph 35 above).
The Official Solicitor
- As will be apparent Mr Harris views the Official Solicitor as worse than a fool and his intervention in the proceedings as the very reverse of helpful. From a comparatively early stage Mr Harris has sought to have the Official Solicitor removed. Holman J dismissed such an application on 25 November 1998 saying:
"The burden of Mr Harris's application is his view that the Official Solicitor has done nothing to help the case or his children but has merely blocked and hindered contact. Indeed it is quite clear from various newspaper articles, in relation to totally unrelated cases, that Mr Harris has placed before the court, that he has a general view that the Official Solicitor has, what he regards as a "feminist and anti-father" approach. I do not share that view. I personally have very great regard for the office of the Official Solicitor and for his staff and for the work that they do to assist the courts in relation to children generally and for all that the Official Solicitor has done to assist the court in relation to these children, in particular. There is absolutely no justifiable reason whatsoever to remove the Official Solicitor from this case and indeed it would be a tremendous disadvantage to do so. It is obvious that this case require further investigation from somebody with a great deal more skill and experience than, with respect to them, a normal court welfare officer has."
- Further such applications were rejected by Kirkwood J on 15 October 1999 and by Bracewell J on 31 March 2000. Kirkwood J in his judgment on 15 October 1999 acknowledged that the Official Solicitor had throughout been opposed to contact. As he pointed out, however, he had been more influenced by the advice of Dr Cameron than by that of the Official Solicitor when the two were in conflict.
- For what it is worth, and I appreciate that in Mr Harris's eyes my view on the matter is worse than useless, I would wish to endorse everything that Holman J said about the Official Solicitor, both in general and in relation to his involvement in this particular case. In In Re G (Minors) (Wardship: Costs)  1 WLR 438 Ormrod LJ said at p 442F that:
"generations of judges .... have always regarded the Official Solicitor as an indispensable last resort when all other welfare agencies and services have, or are likely to fail. His assistance .... has enabled the court to solve many intractable "welfare" problems .... the Official Solicitor is much more than a mere guardian ad litem. He is at once an amicus curiae, an independent solicitor acting for the children, an investigator, an adviser."
In Enfield London Borough Council v Mahoney  1 WLR 749 Watkins LJ referred at p 757D to:
"the outstanding services which the Official Solicitor can and does render to the courts."
With respect to those judges I entirely agree.
- In the present case the Official Solicitor has been of the very greatest assistance to the court, to the children and, if only he was not too blind and prejudiced to recognise it, to Mr Harris himself. I reject Mr Harris's absurd and unfounded complaints against the Official Solicitor. I add merely that, like Kirkwood J, I have, where they differed, preferred to follow Dr Cameron's views in preference to those of the Official Solicitor.
- Mr Harris, as has been seen (see paragraphs 150–152, 172, 179 and 187 above) strongly criticises Dr Cameron.
- He obviously disagrees profoundly with Dr Cameron's professional judgment. He probably thinks he is a fool. Mr Harris is entitled to that opinion, though it is one with which I profoundly disagree. What Mr Harris is not entitled to do is to hurl around outrageous, baseless and fatuous charges that Dr Cameron is dishonest, corrupt and motivated by greed (see paragraphs 150, 152, 172 and 179 above). Mr Harris thinks that everyone who disagrees with him (the Official Solicitor and Dr Cameron included) is a fool and a knave. He cannot see the difference between the two. He merely demeans himself, and worst of all demeans himself in the eyes of his daughters, by his absurd antics. So consumed is Mr Harris with his idee fixe about Dr Cameron that he cannot even see that from beginning to end Dr Cameron has been supportive of his wish to have happy and fulfilling contact with his daughters.
- Dr Cameron is a man of the utmost professional distinction and personal probity. From beginning to end, in a case which has probably been as trying for him as any in which he has ever been concerned, Dr Cameron has provided the court with invaluable, and what I am persuaded is wholly trustworthy and reliable, evidence which, speaking for my own part, I have found utterly compelling and convincing.
- Mr Harris does, however, as it seems to me, have three legitimate complaints against Dr Cameron which it is right that I should deal with.
- The first, and most serious, is that in one of the documents annexed to his second report dated 30 September 1999, Dr Cameron wrote that Mr B (see paragraph 32 above) and another professional, a probation officer, had reluctantly reached the conclusion that Mr Harris
"has a disorder of personality which impairs all his personal relationships, including those with his children."
Mr Harris was incensed on two grounds: first, that Dr Cameron should have made use in his report of the views of Mr B and the probation officer without having first obtained their permission, and, secondly, that Dr Cameron should have attributed to them views which they did not in fact hold. Mr Harris ventilated these matters in correspondence with Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust in December 1999 and with Devon Probation Service in, I think, March 2000. Letters to Mr Harris which I have been shown from Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust dated 21 December 1999 and 14 January 2000 show that Mr B's employers had very serious reservations about what Dr Cameron had done. A letter to father from Devon Probation Service dated 6 April 2000 contains the probation officer's categorical denial that he ever used the phrase "personality disorder" to Dr Cameron.
- Pressed to justify himself in the witness-box Dr Cameron had to accept that neither Mr B nor the probation officer had ever used the phrase that he attributed to them, that it was extrapolation from what they had said to him, and that, in expressing himself in the way he had, he (Dr Cameron) had gone "a leap too far". He accepted that it was an error on his part not to get Mr B's permission.
- I have to say that it is most unfortunate that this should have happened and that Dr Cameron should have been as slow, as I think he was, in acknowledging that Mr Harris did have a point of real substance. I say this because of a comment Dr Cameron made in the witness box to the effect that Mr Harris does not need to stir it up every time he sees an error. There are errors and errors and in this particular instance I think that Mr Harris was justified in seeing this an error calling for complaint and remedy. I also think it was very unfortunate that Dr Cameron should have sought to take refuge for so long in what I have to say was the plainly feeble excuse that he could not correct the error in his report because he had already sent it to the Official Solicitor and it was accordingly the Official Solicitor's property. By the end Dr Cameron was prepared to acknowledge quite frankly that he had been "sloppy", that it had been a useful learning experience for him, that he had now tightened up his professional practices and that he should have taken steps to correct his report even though it had already gone to the Official Solicitor. It is, I have to say, a pity he could not have come out as openly about this at a very early stage, for I have no doubt that the matter has rankled and festered in Mr Harris's mind ever since. It is easy to be wise after the event and I have little doubt that Dr Cameron quite understandably found Mr Harris little short of maddening to deal with. That can explain but it does not excuse. However, let me make it quite clear that this error on Dr Cameron's part - and it was, I think, a serious error of professional judgment - does not, as it seems to me, in any way affect the overall validity and weight of Dr Cameron's opinions in the case.
- Mr Harris's second complaint against Dr Cameron relates to his reference at one point in his third report dated 20 March 2000 to the eldest girl when he should have referred to the youngest. Mr Harris, in a letter to Dr Cameron dated 23 March 2000, was quick to pick up this 'error', as he sarcastically referred to it, choosing to see it as a deliberate ploy, as he put it, "to keep things for me as bad as possible" and "to tilt the Judge further from me." Dr Cameron was quick to correct this inadvertent slip, as I am sure it was, writing the very next day to Mr Harris (24 March 2000) to confirm that the report should indeed read as Mr Harris had suggested. This particular complaint is groundless, but provides an illuminating illustration of Mr Harris's unerring ability always to see something sinister, or worse, in even the most innocent slip.
- Mr Harris's third complaint is more serious, and again, as it seems to me, well founded. In the course of preparing his fourth report dated 18 January 2001 Dr Cameron had a discussion with Mr Harris in the course of which he asked him about the hoax bombs on the A38 (see paragraphs 222 and 228 above). Dr Cameron's report reads:
" Bomb hoax A38 Mr Mark Harris accepted responsibility for this, as the publicity for DADS was good."
Mr Harris denied having said any such thing to Dr Cameron. Dr Cameron produced his contemporaneous manuscript notes taken at his meeting with Mr Harris. The relevant part reads:
"BOMB Hoax on A38. Accepted. "It's me I'm being affected."
- Now Mr Harris had in fact tape-recorded his meeting with Dr Cameron, so I was able both to listen to the tape and to read an agreed transcript of the relevant part of their conversation. Unfortunately at one crucial point the quality of the tape was too poor to enable one to be confident of the precise words used. However it is fairly clear that Mr Harris was not telling Dr Cameron that he had either claimed or accepted responsibility for the hoax. What he did say, and this is entirely in keeping with his devious and cynical turn of mind, was words to the effect that if people wanted to assume that he or DADS was responsible he was not going to go out of his way to disabuse them of the notion, for it was all good publicity for DADS. The distinction between what Mr Harris told Dr Cameron and what he noted down - for it is clear that the crucial word "accepted" that appears in his report was taken by Dr Cameron directly from his contemporaneous note - is important, even if the correct version would also have displayed Mr Harris in a fairly unattractive light. Dr Cameron accepted that his language had been "very economical." It was worse than that. It was, albeit I am sure unintentionally, positively misleading.
- I have to say that it is a matter of concern to me that this is the second occasion in just a few months on which it has been demonstrated to my satisfaction that a very eminent expert witness in the Family Division has mis-reported in a report for the court - I am sure entirely innocently - an important conversation with one of the adults involved. Virtually every report one reads in this Division, whether it be a report from an expert witness such as Dr Cameron, a Court Welfare Officer's report, or a social worker's report or statement, contains accounts, often appearing in quotation marks, of what somebody or other is said to have told the writer of the report. Only comparatively rarely does the judge ever have the opportunity to go behind the written report in order to examine the underlying materials on which it is based. Very often it will be impossible or impracticable for him to do so. It is therefore vital that nothing should be done to impair judicial confidence in the scrupulous accuracy of such reports.
- Equally in a case such as this it is vital that nothing is allowed to happen to impair the parties' confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the experts involved. It is a measure of Mr Harris's distrust of Dr Cameron that he should feel it necessary to tape-record their conversations. But how is Mr Harris to feel anything but vindication for his behaviour in this respect when he reflects that, but for the fact that he had recorded this conversation, Dr Cameron's error might well have passed undetected.
The youngest daughter's letters
- There are two letters which purport to have been written by the youngest daughter. Mr Harris does not accept that these letters are genuine. Indeed, one of his applications before Bracewell J on 31 March 2000 was for leave to instruct a handwriting expert to examine these two documents. That application was dismissed but - acting entirely in character - Mr Harris simply ignored Bracewell J's ruling and proceeded nonetheless to instruct an expert. In a letter to Mr Harris dated 12 May 2000 the Official Solicitor pointed out, correctly as it seems to me, that in the circumstances his action in instructing an expert and sending him copies of documents on the court file constituted a contempt of court.
- In the Main Judgment I have set out at some length why I am satisfied, as I am, that both letters were indeed written by the girl. There is no need for me to rehearse the matter in public, except to repeat what I said then:
"I have spent much more time on this topic than it deserves. I have done so for three reasons. First, because I am anxious that father should not go away thinking that points he wishes to make have not been carefully considered before being rejected. Secondly, because it is a telling example of the kind of mare's nest that father is so adept at finding. It is a splendid illustration of how a point, at best of peripheral importance and in fact wholly devoid of substance, assumes major significance in father's perception of the case and thus enables him to avoid facing up to what are in truth the real issues which he has to address if he is ever to move forward and enjoy a satisfactory relationship with his children. Thirdly, because it is the kind of wholly misconceived point which serves only to fuel father's conspiracy view of life and his perception that everyone who disagrees with him is, if not actually corrupt or dishonest, somehow pursuing an agenda designed to do him down."
- I have already set out at great length a large number of both expert and judicial assessments of Mr Harris's character and personality. They are strikingly uniform. In many ways the earlier opinions are strikingly prescient. The longer I had to immerse myself in the details of the litigation, and the longer I had the opportunity of observing Mr Harris not just in the witness box giving evidence but whilst he was sitting in court, the more obviously compelling and well-founded these assessments became. No purpose would be served by my repeating or even attempting to summarise them. I merely record that everything I have read and heard drives me to agree with the assessments which, to take only a sample of the most compelling, I have quoted above in paragraph 30 (Dr Boothroyd Brooks), in paragraphs 32, 33, 34 and 36 (Wilson J) and in paragraphs 78, 220, 221–224, 226 and 227 (Dr Cameron).
- I turn at last to deal in turn with the specific issues which arise for decision. I deal first with contact, in relation to which I propose to set out an edited version of what I said in the Main Judgment.
- Direct contact between Mr Harris and his children has completely broken down. It is important for everyone, and Mr Harris in particular, to realise that this is, as I find, wholly the result of his own impetuous and foolish behaviour. Each of the three girls has, in turn, refused to continue with contact as a direct result of something done by their father: first the eldest (see paragraphs 56–58 above); next the youngest (see paragraphs 132 and 144 above); and finally the middle girl (see paragraph 165 above). Each of them has only been hardened in her resolve by father's subsequent actions.
- In her oral evidence mother said, and I accept her evidence on this point, that she wished the children could have contact with their father. She said there was no need for all this litigation. The children should see their father. The reason why contact was not working was because of his attitude, expressed to the children, for example about the proceedings. She said there would be no problem if Mr Harris could just enjoy his contact. I entirely agree with that analysis. Ms Small submitted that mother was merely paying lip-service to the principle of contact. I disagree. Mother, I am satisfied, has acted loyally in accordance with the orders for contact over the last two years. It is simply not the case as Mr Harris would have it that mother is and always has been totally opposed to direct contact.
- The children's current attitudes to contact have been carefully probed and are fully reported by their social worker and by Dr Cameron (see paragraphs 216–218 above). I accept their evidence on this point, which accords entirely with the children's views as reported by mother and accords also with what the eldest girl told me when I met her. It is important to realise that the children's present views are not some sudden and unexpected development. They are the result of a process of reaction to Mr Harris's behaviour over a very long period, which Dr Cameron saw in the course of developing as long ago as February 1999 and which has been progressing ever since (see, for example, paragraphs 59, 64, 67 and 72–73 above).
- The social worker's view is bleak. Dr Cameron's advice is clear and unequivocal: direct contact must stop for the foreseeable future and indirect contact must be significantly reduced (see paragraphs 225 and 230 above). He says (see paragraph 225 above), and I can only agree with him, distasteful and saddening though it is, that:
"The emotional strain, on the children from having direct contact with their father, is harmful and far outweighs any benefit they derive from seeing him."
Again, it is important to recognise that this is not some recent or unexpected development.
- Dr Cameron's misgivings about there being any continuing contact at all were plain in March 2000. Considering whether at that stage contact should continue at the level previously ordered by Kirkwood J, he pointedly commented, How can we? (see paragraph 75 above). Even the reduced level of contact which he reluctantly recommended at that stage he saw as "damage limitation", commenting, I have no doubt accurately, that contact with more distant relatives which exposed the girls to Mr Harris's pressurising behaviour would be "stopped forthwith" (see paragraph 76 above). It is obvious that Bracewell J also had serious misgivings about continuing contact at all at that time (see paragraph 85 above).
- Mr Harris's application in relation to contact was supported by his witness statement. Its tone can be gauged from its assertion that Kirkwood J's order in relation to contact "defies logic", its complaints that the courts "pussy foot around" and "remain impotent, choosing to support the mother & ignore the children" and its concluding description of how Mr Harris intends to "expand" his protest group "barring the miracle of a just finding (regular contact, all three children)." Mr Harris asserts, in my judgment without the slightest foundation, that, "Since 1993, the mother has obstructed, made difficult, attacked & vilified contact in everyway" and generally acted in a manner which he calls "child abuse" - a phrase that seems to trip easily off his tongue when referring to everyone other than himself. What Mr Harris appeared to be seeking was what he called "frequent contact, WITH THE COLLECTION FROM THE SCHOOLS", though he also suggested that the eldest girl should be removed into foster care, on a temporary basis, as a means of persuading her to resume contact.
- Mother's response, set out in her witness statement, comments sadly, but in my judgment entirely accurately, that:
"Reading witness statement of Mr Harris, it is clear that he has not changed. He still seeks to blame and criticise everyone else rather than accept that his actions and behaviour have been the root of the problem."
Mother goes on to say that she was "absolutely appalled" by his suggestion that the eldest girl be put into temporary foster care. So was I. Quite apart from anything else the crass insensitivity of the suggestion, and Mr Harris's evident inability even to begin to imagine the kind of reaction such a suggestion must inevitably have produced in mother's and his daughter's minds, only goes to demonstrate the correctness of mother's belief - a belief I share - that he has no insight as to what is best for the children.
- Mr Harris's response was a further witness statement which contained these two chilling passages:
"This case is now so extreme, but relatively simple to put right, I urge the Court to take radical & swift action with these children. I ask the Court, having allowed around one third of a MILLION POUNDS to be wasted to get nowhere, to invest a few thousand pounds more in removing all three children to a neutral setting (foster care / hospital) with both myself & the mother having equal visiting contact for a period of time. .... The abuse of these children, emotionally, in the home is almost as bad as sexual abuse - grounds to remove these girls is clear."
"I admit to feeling a raging anger building up inside. Just how much more of this collusion & corruption am I & the children to be put through?"
Comment is superfluous.
- Mr Harris's eventual position as set out in Ms Small's skeleton argument was that contact should take place at least once each month but preferably on alternate weekends. She recognised, however, that in view of the children's anxieties and other activities, contact, at least to begin with, should be for (say) 3 hours at a time and at a neutral venue accompanied by an independent third party.
- But, attractively and moderately as his case was put by counsel, what is central to Mr Harris's real thinking is his idea that contact will go smoothly and will quickly return to the idealised memory he has of contact as it once was if only he can be allowed to pick the children up from school (see paragraphs 203 and 262 above). In the witness box he said very simply, "Let me try it; give me three months; all that is needed is the pick up at school".
- By then he had of course accepted that he could not pursue any application in relation to his eldest daughter. In a way that marked quite a dramatic advance in his thinking about the case and in his ability to understand the underlying realities. Does it mark a true beginning of something new? Or is it a false dawn? I should like to think that one could view the future with some small modicum of optimism. I have to say that even at the end of the hearing I had my doubts - grave doubts.
- But, whatever he said at trial, what Mr Harris has said and done since does little to reassure me. His sense of impatience, his idea that everything will be solved if only weekly contact is immediately put in place, is powerfully illustrated by his two most recent letters (see paragraphs 196 and 203 above).
- This is by no means the first time that Mr Harris has sought to promote a rapid and decisive move forward as the sovereign remedy. That was his suggestion to Kirkwood J both in March 1999 and again in October 1999 (see paragraph 70 above). It was a wholly unrealistic ambition then. It was, if I may respectfully say so, rightly rejected by Kirkwood J, who understandably stressed the slow and long-term process that even then lay ahead of Mr Harris. It is simply a fantasy in the present state of affairs.
- I have tried very hard to find some way in which direct contact could be facilitated and restored. The very last thing I want to see, either from Mr Harris's point of view or the point of view of the children, is the natural relationship which they ought all to have being disrupted by any reduction, let alone a cessation, of the generous contact which in all normal circumstances a father in Mr Harris's position would be entitled to expect and which would normally be assumed to be very much in the best interests of children in the position of these children. If at all possible contact should be and always will be encouraged and facilitated by the court. Moreover, and reverting to the facts of the present case, in many ways and for much of the time in the past contact was a positive experience for the children. But I am driven to the conclusion, which in the light of everything I have heard is inevitable and unavoidable, that the welfare of all three children is best served by there being no direct contact with Mr Harris. I agree with the Official Solicitor's conclusion that at present a reduced amount of indirect contact as recommended by Dr Cameron is the only form of contact that can be "managed". I have to agree with how Mr Alford puts it when he says that the children need a complete break from the requirement or expectation of contact.
- My decision is not founded just on the girls' expressed wishes and recorded actions, important though they undoubtedly are. After all, the children (even the youngest) are all now either at or very close to an age when realistically it would be difficult, and in all probability impossible, to prevent them voting with their feet. Moreover, and in my judgment this is an entirely proper stance for Plymouth to be adopting, it is clear that Plymouth will not instruct its staff physically to force any of the children to attend contact who does not want to attend. Such action is unthinkable: it would not merely be unprofessional but wholly counter-productive. And the sad reality is that, all attempts at persuasion having apparently failed, an order for resumption of contact if it is to be anything more than vain words may very well require the use of at least some degree of physical force. But the girls' expressed wishes reflect their very deeply held feelings which in turn reflect the underlying stresses and strains to which contact in the recent past has subjected them. The children's best interests argue strongly against direct contact.
- Dr Cameron's opinion is clear and direct (see paragraph 260 above). I am driven to agree with it. Any benefits the girls would derive from direct contact are, in my judgment, outweighed - heavily outweighed - by the damage which contact inflicts on them. I repeat, so there can be no doubt at all, least of all in Mr Harris's mind: this situation has been brought about in overwhelming measure by his own actions, in particular, as the social worker expressed it in her section 7 report, by his inability to put his children's needs before his own.
- So far as concerns indirect contact I agree with Dr Cameron's recommendations (see paragraph 225 and 230 above), essentially for the reasons he gives.
- Accordingly there will be an order in the terms of paragraphs 5 and 6 of the order attached to this judgment.
The mother's application for a specific issue order
- Mother seeks a specific issue order to regulate Mr Harris's dealings with the children's schools, a matter which it will be recalled (see paragraph 81 above) is currently regulated, to an extent, by paragraph 8 of the order made by Bracewell J on 31 March 2000. In particular mother seeks an order dispensing with any requirement for the children's schools to obtain his consent for school activities. Mr Harris for his part seeks the discharge of that part of Bracewell J's order.
- Put very shortly mother's application is based on her fears (i) that Mr Harris may unreasonably withhold his consent and (ii) that if he gains prior knowledge of such activities he may turn up and embarrass the children or worse.
- Mr Harris's attitude to these matters appears from his witness statement. In it he says:
"I expect the Court to reverse the nonsense it has facilitated since 1997 by not only dismissing the Specific Issue application, but removing ALL Injunctions, restrictions on school information & move swiftly to restore me fully in the Children's lives, to limit the abuse that takes place by a maternal family that simply "bond together" when attacking me .... I urge the Court to shift "Heaven & Earth" and restore me fully into the Children's lives. A SHARED RESIDENCE ORDER should be considered, and I ask the Court to study the PRESIDENTS JUDGEMENT, in the Court of Appeal, RE D (SHARED RESIDENCE) Butler-Sloss/ LJ Hale, Nov 20, 2000. Nothing else has worked."
I am of course well aware of what was said, both by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P and by Hale LJ in D v D (Shared Residence Order)  1 FLR 495 The present case is manifestly not one for a shared residence order and Ms Small did not suggest that it was.
- The real point at the end of the day, as it seems to me, is that in the light of everything that has happened to them, and everything that Mr Harris has done, the children will never feel secure when taking part in some school outing or activity if they know that he knows it is happening. There will always be that niggling worry at the back of their minds that their father may suddenly turn up and, as they would see it, misbehave himself. Their perception, and who can blame them given everything that Mr Harris has done, is that their father cannot be trusted to behave himself. Unless they know that he is not going to be given advance information about school outings and activities their enjoyment of them will be blunted. They should be allowed to enjoy their time at school free from such fears and pressures, which may be all the more insidious because largely unspoken and unobserved.
- Dr Cameron strongly supports mother's view on this point (see paragraph 229 above). His reasoning is cogent and compelling. I agree with what he says.
- I have thought very carefully about the appropriate form of order. Doing my best to hold the balance between Mr Harris's rights as a parent and the children's need for protection, and bearing also in mind that so far as concerns matters of day to day routine a school would normally be expected to deal primarily with the residential parent, I have concluded that an order in the terms of paragraph 9 of the order attached to this judgment is appropriate as best serving the children's interests. Paragraphs 9(d) and 9(e) of the order in my judgment appropriately meet Mr Harris's right to be kept informed, albeit ex post facto, of all matters of which a parent would normally be kept informed by a school and also, because I do think it important, of any really serious accident involving any of his children.
VII The Official Solicitor
- Mr Harris seeks yet again (see paragraphs 237–238 above) the removal of the Official Solicitor. He does not accept that the Official Solicitor has ever exercised a truly independent voice. In the witness box he said that the Official Solicitor had failed, that he had not sorted out what Mr Harris called "the mess", that he had ignored the children's wishes. He wants the Official Solicitor replaced by Dr N, so that Dr N can work with and help the children and the family as a whole.
- Dr Cameron sees value in Mr Harris working with Dr N on his own. But, correctly in my view, neither Dr Cameron nor the Official Solicitor supports Mr Harris's proposal that Dr N should work with the whole family. I think it would be entirely counter-productive and not in the children's best interests to introduce them to yet another professional at this stage.
- As I have already explained (see paragraph 239 above), and in common with my judicial predecessors, I do not accept Mr Harris's criticisms of the Official Solicitor. The simple fact is that Mr Harris seeks his removal, along with Dr Cameron, because he correctly perceives that neither support his case in the extravagant way in which he promotes it and wrongly perceives their opposition as being misconceived and contrary to the children's best interests when it is neither.
- Were this case to continue and were there to be further investigations to be carried out then I, in common with Holman J (see paragraph 237 above), would certainly wish to see the Official Solicitor and Dr Cameron continue 'in post' so that both the court and the children could continue to benefit from their involvement.
- However, for reasons which I will be explaining in due course (see paragraphs 313–323 below) the time has now come to put an end to this litigation, at least for the immediate future. For that reason, but I emphasise only for that reason, I propose to discharge the Official Solicitor.
VIII The Injunctions
- Putting the matter very generally Mr Harris seeks, as I understand it, the immediate discharge of all the injunctions; mother seeks their continuation.
- Before turning to consider these applications there are certain general observations I wish to make.
- It is an elementary principle of justice and fairness that no order will be enforced by committal unless it is expressed in clear, certain and unambiguous language. So far as this is possible, the person affected should know with complete precision what it is that he is required to do or to abstain from doing. The authorities setting out this sometimes overlooked principle are legion. A no doubt selective anthology would include
Low v Innes (1864) 4 DeGJ&S 286 , 295–296 (Lord Westbury LC: the order must "lay down a clear and definite rule .... The Court .... should, in granting an injunction, see that the language of its order is such as to render quite plain what it permits and what it prohibits")
Attorney-General v Staffordshire County Council  1 Ch 336 , 342 (Joyce J: an injunction "should be certain and definite in its terms, and it must or ought to be quite clear what the person against whom the injunction .... is made is required to do or to refrain from doing")
Ellerman Lines Ltd v Read  2 KB 144 , 158 (Eve J: "in framing orders restraining the liberty of the subject the greatest care should be taken .... in stating with the greatest precision the form which the order is to assume")
Iberian Trust Ltd v Founders Trust and Investment Co Ltd  2 KB 87 , 94, 95 (Luxmoore J: order must "define the precise steps which are to be taken .... must in unambiguous terms direct what is to be done")
Redwing Ltd v Redwing Forest Products Ltd (1947) 177 LT 387 , 390 (Jenkins J: "a Defendant cannot be committed for contempt on the ground that upon one of two possible constructions of an undertaking being given he has broken that undertaking. For the purpose of relief of this character I think the undertaking must be clear and the breach must be clear beyond all question.")
Redland Bricks Ltd v Morris  AC 652 , 666 (Lord Upjohn: order must be such that "the defendant knows exactly in fact what he has to do and this means not as a matter of law but as a matter of fact") and
Phonographic Performance Ltd v Tsang (1985) LS Gaz 2331 (Sir John Donaldson MR: "expressed in terms which make it clear beyond peradventure to the defendant what he is restrained from doing").
It follows, as was pointed out by the Court of Appeal in Deodat v Deodat 9 June 1978 (unreported) , that it is impossible to read implied terms into an injunction.
- A related principle is that an order should not require the person to whom it is addressed to cross-refer to other material in order to ascertain his precise obligation. In Ellerman Lines Ltd v Read  2 KB 144 , 157, Atkin LJ said:
"That judgment when drawn up, instead of reciting what the order of the Court was and what the defendants were restrained from doing, only refers to continuing an injunction granted by Rowlatt J, varied by Roche J, and continued by Greer J, without stating what it is that the Court was ordering the defendants to abstain from doing. That appears to me to be very bad practice .... It is a matter of very great importance that the orders of the Court .... should make it quite clear what the Court is ordering to be done. There is considerable laxity in this matter .... Practitioners and the officers of the Court should see that orders are not passed unless they are in proper form."
In Rudkin-Jones v Trustee of the Property of the Bankrupt (1965) 109 Sol Jo 334 the order as drawn read "It is ordered that an injunction be granted in the terms of Notice of Motion for Injunction". Lord Upjohn said:
"I do want to protest as strongly as I can at the granting of injunctions in that form. It means then that the person against whom the injunction is granted .... has to look at another document in order to see what it is that he is enjoined from doing .... It cannot be too clearly understood .... that a person is entitled to look and look only at the order to see what it is that he is enjoined from doing. He looks at that order and finds out from the four walls of it and from no other document exactly what it is that he must not do."
- In the present case Mr Harris has to look at no fewer than six different orders of the court (that is, the original order dated 3 July 1998 and the five amending orders dated 18 September 1998, 25 November 1998, 20 January 1999, 11 March 1999 and 7 February 2000) to work out the terms of the injunction originally imposed by HHJ Cottle. (There are, of course, two further orders imposing injunctions on him, that is, the in personam order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997 and the order made by Sir Stephen Brown P on 20 November 1997, in addition to the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997.) He has to look at three different orders, that is, the orders dated 3 July 1998, 25 November 1998 and 11 March 1999, to work out the terms of sub-paragraph (a) of the injunction. He has to look at two different orders, that is, the orders dated 3 July 1998 and 18 September 1998, to work out the terms of sub-paragraph (g) of the injunction. And to identify the area included in the exclusion zone he has, having discarded the map attached to the order dated 3 July 1998, to adjust, as it were, the map attached to the order dated 20 January 1999 by reference to the verbal formula in the order dated 7 February 2000.
- It is also to be noted that the referential mode of drafting adopted in the order dated 11 March 1999, with its express incorporation of paragraph 1(i) of the order dated 25 November 1998, which in turn refers to the map annexed to the order dated 3 July 1998, overlooks the fact that that map had by then been superseded by the different map attached to the order dated 20 January 1999. Furthermore, as I understand the geography of Plymouth an incidental, though unexpressed, effect of the order dated 7 February 2000 is to render redundant paragraph 1(i) of the order dated 25 November 1998 as incorporated in the order dated 11 March 1999.
- This, in my judgment, is a wholly unacceptable state of affairs. It is intolerable that a layman who risks imprisonment should be left to disentangle a series of orders so complicated that, as I have pointed out, even the legally qualified draftsman has slipped up in his understanding of the jigsaw. As Lord Upjohn emphasised in the passage in his judgment in Rudkin-Jones v Trustee of the Property of the Bankrupt (1965) 109 Sol Jo 334 quoted above, an injunction should be set out complete in a single document so that, looking only at that one document, the party enjoined can see exactly what it is that he must not do.
- I can well see that, if it is desired to amend an existing injunction, it is forensically convenient for the applicant in the notice of application to formulate the amendment he seeks, and for the judge in his judgment or ruling to indicate the order he is proposing to make, by means of the kind of formula which in this case is seen carried through into the orders dated 18 September 1998 and 25 November 1998. However, when the order itself comes to be drawn the use of this kind of formula is, as I have said, wholly unacceptable. The proper practice when drawing the order (a practice which had in fact been adopted in the order dated 3 July 1998, which replaced, and was expressed to replace, an earlier order made by Wilson J) is for the order to be expressed as (a) discharging the earlier injunction and (b) granting a new injunction in the desired terms, that is, the terms of the earlier injunction but incorporating the amendments.
- Minimum standards of proper practice mean that Mr Harris ought to have been able to see the terms of the injunction originally granted by HHJ Cottle on 3 July 1998 by looking at one document rather than the six which in fact he was compelled to study. However, in addition to that injunction, and ignoring for this purpose the contra mundum injunctions contained in the order dated 7 November 1997, there were, as I have mentioned, further injunctions against Mr Harris contained in the orders of Wilson J dated 7 November 1997 and of Sir Stephen Brown P dated 20 November 1997. Each of these was, of course, a self-contained injunction, dealing with a separate subject-matter. That said, it will normally be convenient and appropriate to have all the operative injunctions granted in any action against a particular party set out in a single order, so that he can, by looking at a single document, know not merely what the terms of the individual injunction are but also the terms of all the injunctions by which he is bound. A multiplicity of injunctions contained in different orders impose on the party enjoined the obligation of remembering how many different orders there are and expose him to the risk of overlooking or forgetting a particular order.
- I propose that to the extent that the present or any additional injunctions are to remain in force they should all be set out in a single order.
- Mr Harris's application for the discharge of the injunctions is supported by his witness statement. As I read it Mr Harris identifies three main reasons why, as he puts it, there should be "instant dismissal of the injunction". I have considered each of these in the Main Judgment. Put shortly they are:
First, that "mother has been CAUGHT making multiple false/exaggerated claims of breach to get me sent to Prison." There is, as I have already found (see paragraph 234 above) no substance in this complaint.
Secondly, that mother has herself sought him out for confrontation. Again, this is an allegation that I have already considered and rejected (see paragraph 236 above).
Thirdly, that his business is being affected. I have already rejected this argument as untruthful humbug (see paragraphs 116–119 above).
None of these arguments holds water.
- Mr Harris offers assurances that he will only travel in the exclusion zone during work and for the purpose of teaching. Those assurances are, in my judgment worthless. If Mr Harris is unable to behave himself when injunctions are in place (see paragraph 116 above) what possible reason is there to believe that he will do so if removed from all external restraint?
- Mr Harris says it is time to wipe the slate clean and that if mother suffers any problems because of there being no injunction it is open to her to convince a court that she needs one. This glib and facile suggestion merely illustrates Mr Harris's totally insensitive and unfeeling inability even to begin to appreciate the effect that his years of harassment have had on both mother and children. Mother does not need to convince the court that she needs injunctive protection. Mr Harris's behaviour in the period since Bracewell J gave judgment on 31 March 2000 unhappily makes that need only too obvious.
- In her witness statement in response mother says that the injunction:
"provides us with some peace of mind otherwise we feel that we will have to "look over our shoulders" all of the time. It is very important that the children are able to travel to school without fearing that they will be intercepted by Mr Harris. We have been the victims of long and sustained campaigns of harassment by Mr Harris in the past and do not want to be exposed to this in future as it caused considerable upset to the children and I."
I can well understand why mother says that.
- Every judge who has had to consider this case in recent years has seen the necessity of maintaining in place a scheme of injunctions corresponding in all essential details to the raft of injunctions which is currently in force. Kirkwood J in October 1999 saw the injunctions (see paragraph 108 above) as a:
"significant part of the endeavour of the court to try to establish confidence and trust in the case."
I wholeheartedly agree.
- In her closing submissions Ms Small made the point that the continued existence of this raft of injunctions merely reinforces and feeds the children's negative views of their father. Maybe it does, though I rather doubt it. Overwhelmingly their negative view of their father has been brought about by his own behaviour and nothing else. I unhesitatingly reject Mr Harris's claim that a continuation of the injunctions will merely encourage mother in what he groundlessly asserts is her demonisation of him. But whatever may be the negative impact on the children of these injunctions is in my judgment heavily outweighed by the benefits they will derive from their continuation.
- Kirkwood J on the same occasion also foresaw a time when it would no longer be necessary or wise for the injunctions to continue in their full rigour. As matters stand today, and in the light of everything that has happened since Kirkwood J expressed that opinion, there is, as I see it, a pressing need to maintain the injunctions in their full rigour, not merely for the time being but for the foreseeable future.
- Mr Harris has now been convicted on no fewer than four occasions of numerous contempts of court: on 7 November 1997 by Wilson J of no fewer than thirty contempts committed between 21 April 1997 and 14 July 1997 (see paragraph 88 above); on 3 July 1998 by HHJ Cottle of a further thirty contempts committed between 26 January 1998 and 16 June 1998 (see paragraph 97 above); on 22 June 1999 by Kirkwood J of a further two contempts (see paragraph 107 above); and now on 31 January 2001 by me of a further ten contempts committed between 2 April 2000 and 10 October 2000 (see paragraphs 111 and 210 above). Those last contempts were committed during a period, starting immediately after Bracewell J had given judgment on 31 March 2000 and continuing right up to the hearing before me, when, as I have observed (see paragraph 144 above), Mr Harris had resumed his frenzied litigation and stepped up his very visible campaign of highly publicised demonstration and protest. Mr Harris, as I have already had occasion to remark (see paragraph 116 above) has shown himself more than willing to embark for his own purposes on quite deliberate defiance of the injunctions, without any sense of shame, embarrassment or remorse and without paying the slightest heed to the stern warning given to him by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P as recently as 7 February 2000 (see paragraph 109 above).
- I regret to have to say this but in my judgment Mr Harris is simply not to be trusted. His assurances that he will now behave himself are worthless. I do not believe that he will. I very much doubt that he even wants or intends to. He has a long record of making promises that are not kept (see, for example, paragraphs 99–100 above). It would, I think, be an abdication of my responsibility to the children and to the mother, their residential parent, if I were now to strip them of the protection which not surprisingly they so desperately feel, and which I am satisfied, they need.
- Dr Cameron wrote eloquently of the strain under which mother and the children live, their feeling of being stalked and harassed by Mr Harris, never knowing when he is going to pursue them next (see paragraphs 219 and 229 above).
- Both mother and the children desperately need a breathing space from Mr Harris. His eldest daughter in her letter dated 3 January 2001 (see paragraph 190 above) described the injunction as "my only 'security' that I feel I have." It is tremendously sad to see a girl of her age driven to talking in such terms.
- Dr Cameron has also voiced worrying concerns about the real if unquantifiable but escalating risk of violence that Mr Harris poses (see paragraphs 228 and 230 above). His analysis is acute and, it seems to me, very disturbing. In this connection I refer also to the passage from Mr Harris's witness statement quoted in paragraph 264 above.
- The need for these injunctions to remain in place is overwhelming. Subject only to what follows I propose to continue the current injunctions.
- It is apparent (see paragraph 116 above) that Mr Harris has without the slightest shame and in the most cynical fashion abused the privilege that Holman J (see paragraph 104 above) and then Kirkwood J (see paragraph 106 above) gave him of entering the exclusion zone for the purpose of visiting his dentist. I propose to withdraw this privilege. Mr Harris has wholly failed to persuade me that he will not be able to obtain equally satisfactory dental treatment from a dentist located outside the exclusion zone. If this causes him inconvenience so be it. He has only himself to blame. Any inconvenience he may suffer is as nothing compared to the misery he has inflicted for so long on mother and children.
- I have considered very carefully, particularly given what Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P said on 7 February 2000 (see paragraph 109 above), whether the original wider exclusion zone should now be reinstated. Given his flagrant failure to heed the President's very clear warning, Mr Harris needs to appreciate that I have come very close indeed to reinstating the original exclusion zone. In the event I have held back from taking this step only because mother has not asked me to. Let me make it absolutely clear. If there is ANY encroachment by Mr Harris into the exclusion zone, whatever the circumstances may be, he will find the area of the zone being extended immediately and probably well beyond even the boundaries of the zone as originally fixed by HHJ Cottle.
- I have somewhat redrafted the injunctions which in my judgment require to remain. They are set out in paragraph 10 of the order attached to this judgment. Attached to the order is a map showing the slightly adjusted boundaries of the exclusion zone as I intend it to operate in future.
- In relation to the order made by Sir Stephen Brown P on 20 November 1997, the substance of which is now included in paragraphs 10(e) and 10(f) of the order, the question arises as to whether or not it should be qualified in the manner indicated in paragraph 11 of the order. A similar question arises in relation to the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997. I propose to deal with both at a later stage (see Part X below).
IX Grepe v Loam
- I have already described at length in the Main Judgment and to an extent in this judgment the appalling history of this litigation. As long ago as 7 November 1997 Wilson J made an order under s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 . Bracewell J made a similar order on 31 March 2000. Neither these orders nor subsequent attempts by other judges to persuade Mr Harris to moderate himself have had much, if indeed any, effect in deterring him from continuing to conduct the litigation in a wholly excessive, oppressive, unreasonable and indeed abusive fashion.
- Time after time Mr Harris has been given wise words of counsel as to the best way forward: Dr Cameron has tried, so has Kirkwood J and so has Bracewell J. Time after time Mr Harris has shown that he is unable and unwilling to heed such advice. Therein, of course, lies the tragedy of the case, not merely for Mr Harris but also for his children.
- Contact with the children has wholly broken down. I have decided that there shall be no direct contact and only reduced indirect contact from now on. Both mother and the children, as I have said, desperately need a breathing space from Mr Harris. They need to be protected from what Bracewell J so aptly termed this "continued and obsessive litigation"; I agree with everything she said when explaining why a section 91(14) order was necessary (see paragraph 86 above).
- Mother in her witness statement says, and I wholly agree with her, that Mr Harris appears to thrive on confrontation and that the litigation has become his way of life. She concludes that statement with this heartfelt and, as I am satisfied, entirely genuine plea:
"From my point of view, I am very exasperated and disheartened with the continual proceedings which I find stressful and upsetting. I feel emotionally drained and I feel that the proceedings have taken over my life. For seven years there has not been a break from the ongoing litigation despite the intention that there should be periods of calm by the [section 91(14)] Orders .... I desperately want a period of calm for the children and myself."
In her oral evidence mother said they needed a respite to recover from the proceedings, so the children could collect themselves and one day move on.
- The social worker pleads eloquently for the children to be allowed to enjoy their childhood without the pressure of court proceedings. In the course of her oral evidence she commented that Mr Harris never gives the family a chance to adjust to court orders - there is never any end to it. The same plea is implicit in almost everything said by Dr Cameron.
- I am satisfied that Mr Harris has persisted in making groundless applications to the court. I am also convinced that the best interests of the children imperatively require that there should now be a complete cessation of this litigation for the time being. Unless there is the children and mother will, I am satisfied, be subjected to quite intolerable and wholly unacceptable strain. Section 91(14) orders have proved ineffective against a litigant as pertinacious and ingenious as Mr Harris. The time has now come, I am convinced, for drastic action. Nothing short of the weapon of last resort is adequate to meet the needs of the situation.
- The basis upon which, quite apart from its powers under section 91(14), the court can act to prevent the abuse of its process is clear. The court's powers are to be found in Grepe v Loam (1887) 37 ChD 168 , B v B (Unmeritorious Applications)  1 FLR 505 and Ebert v Venvil  Ch 484 The principles upon which the court is to exercise its statutory powers under section 91(14) are set out in the form of guidelines by Butler-Sloss LJ in Re P (Section 91(14 Guidelines) (Residence and Religious Heritage)  2 FLR 573 , 592H–593F. See also to like effect Re M (Section 91(14) Order)  2 FLR 553 decided at the same time. At least in this context (I say nothing about Grepe v Loam applications in other Divisions or in other types of case) those guidelines should, as it seems to me, apply equally to applications under the inherent jurisdiction as to applications under section 91(14). I have had those guidelines very much in mind when considering both whether I should make such an order and, if so, what form the order should take.
- I am satisfied that there is now an imperative need to extend indefinitely the very stringent order which I made on that basis against both parties on 30 October 2000. I propose therefore to make an order in the terms of paragraphs 18–21 of the attached order. I recognise that such an order imposes serious restrictions on Mr Harris's right to bring proceedings and that the jurisdiction is to be exercised with great care and sparingly. But if ever there was a case in which such an order is needed it is this case.
- I have deliberately specified no temporal limit to that order. Nor am I going to suggest what period must elapse before Mr Harris applies again to the court. It is at present quite impossible to predict when, if ever, he can realistically hope to resume direct contact with the children whilst they remain subject to the jurisdiction of this court. Understandably neither Dr Cameron nor mother, even when pressed, was able to hazard any very precise views.
- Mr Harris needs to appreciate, however, that the process will inevitably be slow - very slow -, that too precipitate an application will almost certainly be counter-productive, and that his best chance of persuading the court at some time in the future to embark upon a resumption of direct contact is by deferring the making of any further application to the court until such time as (i) mother and the children have been able to recover from the bruising experience of continuous litigation and almost continuous harassment for so many years and (ii) he is able to show, probably with the support of independent expert opinion, that he really has changed, and changed very significantly. He has to recognise for his own sake, as much as for the children's, that a very significant period may now have to elapse before that stage is reached. That period will at the very least be measured in months - many, many months - and, it may well be, in years. Almost certainly an absolute pre-requisite of any application, if it is to stand the slightest chance of success, will be Mr Harris's ability to demonstrate that he has complied, meticulously and to the letter, with the terms of each and every injunction, for that is central to any chance of his ever being able to rebuild confidence and trust in either mother or the children.
- Mr Harris knows perfectly well where the way ahead lies. Work on a one-to-one basis with Dr N or someone like him is a start - probably an essential start. Dr Cameron, not for the first time, has provided Mr Harris with much food for thought in suggesting a way forward. I hope that Mr Harris this time will feel able to accept and act on Dr Cameron's advice. He has got to bring himself to understand and accept, in himself, that the children really are, as I am satisfied, expressing their own wishes and that they have not been, as he believes, poisoned against him by mother and her family. If he does not he faces a very bleak and sad future indeed.
- I turn now to consider whether the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997 should be continued and whether or not that part of paragraph 10 of the order which is intended to replace the injunctions granted by Sir Stephen Brown P on 20 November 1997 (and, if it is to remain in place, the contra mundum injunction also) should be qualified by the words in paragraph 11 of the order.
- Before addressing those issues directly I must first return briefly to mother's Notice of Motion for committal dated 18 October 2000. It included six allegations of contempt arising out of the events of 25 April, 27 April, 2 June, 21 July, 11 September and 10 October 2000 (see paragraphs 123, 125, 127, 136, 152 and 158 above). In each case the allegation as formulated in the Notice of Motion was that the broadcast interview or newspaper report (or, in the case of the incident on 11 September 2000, the handing out of the leaflet) amounted to a breach of one or both of paragraphs (1)(a)(iii) and (1)(b) of the contra mundum order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997, not it should be noted a breach of the order made by the President on 20 November 1997.
- When the case was opened before me Mr Alford on behalf of mother said he was no longer pursuing any of these allegations. That was not because of any real doubt as to the primary facts but rather because of doubts as to whether Mr Harris's acts constituted breaches of the contra mundum order. I think that Mr Alford was probably wise to make this concession.
- I have to say that I wholly fail to see any basis upon which it could possibly have been argued that the allegation in relation to 11 September 2000 constituted a breach of the contra mundum order. Although there was undoubtedly "publication" by the act of handing out the leaflets, the contra mundum order catches only publications in either the print or broadcast media.
- So far as concerns the remaining allegations Mr Alford faced two difficulties. First, he would have had to prove that the actual matter published was, within the meaning of the contra mundum order, calculated to lead to the identification of Mr Harris "as being the parent .... of the children" (emphasis added). Given that, although there was reference to the fact that Mr Harris had children, the girls were not in fact referred to by name or otherwise identified, the wording of the injunction (and in particular of the phrase I have highlighted) gives rise to a question of construction of some nicety and no little difficulty. That being so Mr Harris might well have been able to rely upon the principle enunciated by Jenkins J in Redwing Ltd v Redwing Forest Products Ltd (1947) 177 LT 387 , 390, that:
"a Defendant cannot be committed for contempt on the ground that upon one of two possible constructions of an undertaking being given he has broken that undertaking. For the purpose of relief of this character I think the undertaking must be clear and the breach must be clear beyond all question."
Secondly, and since the contra mundum order catches only those who publish the relevant material in the media, Mr Alford would have had to prove that Mr Harris was sufficiently implicated in the relevant act of publication or broadcasting as to be an aider and abetter or joint wrongdoer with the actual publisher or broadcaster.
- Now it may be that Mr Alford would have been able to overcome these difficulties. On the other hand it may very well be that he would not. In these circumstances, and given that Mr Alford had elected not to pursue these allegations, I thought it right to order that the relevant paragraphs of the Notice of Motion be struck out. To that extent, but that extent only, Mr Harris was justified in applying for the summary dismissal of the Notice of Motion.
- Quite apart from the question touched on in paragraph 328 above as to what the contra mundum order in its present form actually means there is a wider and more important issue as to what the proper ambit of such an injunction ought to be. To that question I now turn.
- This requires consideration of the court's jurisdiction to restrain the publication of information about its wards or other children. In Kelly v British Broadcasting Corpn  Fam 59 I described at pp 73C–75B the development of this jurisdiction and, in particular, the emergence and development of the jurisdiction contra mundum following its virtual invention by Balcombe J in Re X (A Minor) (Wardship: Injunction)  1 WLR 1422 . I do not take up time repeating what I said in Kelly , but two observations are in order.
- The first is that, as I mentioned in Kelly at p 72G, there was until the amendment of s 97(2) of the Children Act 1989 by the Access to Justice Act 1999, no automatic restraint on the identification of children involved in proceedings in the High Court - hence the need for frequent recourse to the court's injunctive powers. This lacuna in the law first achieved prominence following the judgment of Sir Stephen Brown P in Re W and others (Wards) (Publication of Information)  1 FLR 246 , an application for committal which arose out of the notorious Cleveland child-abuse cases: see Kelly at p 72A.
- The other is that, ever since 1933, the High Court has had statutory power to prohibit the identification of children involved in proceedings before it. Section 39(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 , as amended, provides that
"In relation to any proceedings in any court the court may direct that -
(a) no newspaper report of the proceedings shall reveal the name, address, or school, or include any particulars calculated to lead to the identification, of any child or young person concerned in the proceedings, either as being the person by or against or in respect of whom the proceedings are taken, or as being a witness therein;
(b) no picture shall be published in any newspaper as being or including a picture of any child or young person so concerned in the proceedings as aforesaid;
except in so far (if at all) as may be permitted by the direction of the court."
The ambit of s 39 was extended to cover sound and television broadcasts by s 57(4) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 and to cover programme services (as defined by s 201(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1990 ) by Schedule 20 paragraph 3(2) of that Act.
- Thus the scheme of statutory regulation to which I referred in Kelly at p 79A includes not merely, as I there pointed out, the automatic restraints on the media provided by s 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 , s 97(2) of the Children Act 1989 and s 2 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 , but also provision in s 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 for the imposition of further discretionary restraints on the media.
- There is, as I mentioned in Kelly at p 74B, no doubt since Thorpe LJ's judgment in Re G (Celebrities: Publicity)  1 FLR 409 at p 414H that the court can grant a so-called "in personam" injunction
"to restrain any act by a parent that if unrestrained would or might adversely affect the welfare of the child the subject of the proceedings."
It is this jurisdiction that Sir Stephen Brown P was exercising when he made the order on 20 November 1997. There is likewise no doubt that in the exercise of this jurisdiction, unlike in the exercise of certain branches of the so-called "in rem" or "contra mundum" jurisdiction, the interests of the child are paramount: see Kelly at p 82C referring to In Re Z (A Minor) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication)  Fam 1 per Ward LJ at p 30D.
- Distinct from the jurisdiction "in personam" is the jurisdiction "in rem" or "contra mundum". It is this jurisdiction that Wilson J was exercising when he made the order on 7 November 1997. As I mentioned in Kelly at p 74D, the exercise of the court's jurisdiction is divided into three parts. It is common ground that in the present case I am exercising the court's "protective" jurisdiction. Accordingly, the children's interests are not, for this purpose, paramount.
- There is, therefore, no doubt that in the present case the jurisdiction is exercisable, that is, both the jurisdiction in personam and the jurisdiction in rem or contra mundum. It is, nonetheless, still important to consider, particularly given what, as I pointed out in Kelly at p 79B, is a very recently adjusted scheme of statutory regulation, two related questions: When is it appropriate to exercise this jurisdiction at all? And, more particularly: What form of relief is it appropriate to grant?
- The authorities recognise two important restrictions on the exercise of the inherent jurisdiction.
- In the first place, as I said in Kelly at p 85A, the burden is on those who seek to invoke the court's inherent jurisdiction to establish "convincingly" by proper evidence that an injunction is "necessary" in order to protect the child from "clear and identifiable harm". Moreover, any injunction granted must be "proportionate" to that aim and no wider than is necessary. Exactly the same approach has since been adopted by Bracewell J in Re X (a child) (injunctions restraining publication)  1 FCR 541 and, as I read her judgment on this point, by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P in Venables v News Group Newspapers Ltd  2 WLR 1038 , esp at pp 1054D, 1064A–C, 1067G.
- Secondly, as I pointed in Kelly at p 74H, the jurisdiction is only exercisable contra mundum if the proposed publication is directly about a child whose care and upbringing are already being supervised by the court and is such as might threaten the effective working of the court's jurisdiction or the ability of the child's carers to carry out their obligations to the court for the care of the child: see R v Central Independent Television PLC  Fam 192 , In Re R (Wardship: Restrictions on Publication)  Fam 254 and In Re Z (A Minor) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication)  Fam 1 .
- Consistently with this approach, an approach which is, after all, mandated by article 10 of the Convention, it seems to me that the court should only exercise its powers under the inherent jurisdiction, whether in personam or contra mundum, if and to the extent that what I have called the automatic restraints provided by s 12 of the 1960 Act, s 2 of the 1981 Act and, in particular, s 97(2) of the 1989 Act are inadequate to protect the child from harm and if the interests of the child cannot properly and adequately be protected by an order being made under s 39 of the 1933 Act. As Thorpe LJ said in Re G (Celebrities: Publicity)  1 FLR 409 at p 414F,
"any restraint imposed must be not only no wider than strictly necessary but also expressed in the clearest possible terms."
- In putting the point this way I am not overlooking the importance in this context, an importance stressed by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P in Venables v News Group Newspapers Ltd  2 WLR 1038 at pp 1053C–1054F, 1055H–1056D, 1064B, of the principles referred to in Douglas v Hello! Ltd  2 WLR 992 by Brooke LJ at p 1006B and, more particularly, by Sedley LJ at pp 1027G–1029G. As Sedley LJ put it, in the context of the court's duty under s 12(4) of the Human Rights Act 1998 to "have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression", since the qualifications set out in article 10(2) are as relevant as the right set out in article 10(1) , you cannot have particular regard to article 10 without having equally particular regard for example to article 8. That said, as Sedley LJ also recognised at p 1030E, article 8 gives no absolute rights, for what article 8(1) requires is "respect for", not inviolability, of private and family life.
- Bearing in mind the limitations on the exercise of the inherent jurisdiction which I have mentioned, and given that s 97(2) of the 1989 Act now provides automatic protection of the child's identity in all cases where the child is involved in proceedings before the court, I would expect there to be fewer cases in future than in the past in which it is legitimate to invoke the court's jurisdiction, in particular its jurisdiction contra mundum.
- Following these general observations I turn now to the order made by Wilson J on 7 November 1997.
- The order made by Wilson J is in a familiar form, indeed in a form so familiar and by now so hallowed by usage that it can appropriately be regarded as the standard form of injunction granted when the court's jurisdiction is invoked contra mundum to restrain the publication of information about its wards or other children. A little while ago I posed the question: What form of relief is it appropriate to grant? In this connection it is, I think, helpful to consider in a little more detail both the history and the contents of the standard form of order contra mundum.
- It can be seen from the order made by Wilson J in the present case that the standard form of order contra mundum consists in essence of two injunctions. The first is an injunction to restrain identification. The second is an injunction to restrain the solicitation of information. The standard form also contains a number of provisos. It will be noticed that the structure and wording of the first of the two injunctions is derived from, though it goes significantly beyond, the language of s 39 of the 1933 Act. The purpose of the provisos needs to be understood and, in particular, the significance of the words "of itself" in the preamble to the proviso ("nothing in this order shall of itself prevent any person"). Doing any of the things mentioned in the proviso cannot be a breach of the order; but that does not mean that, in an appropriate case, it may not involve the commission of some other species of contempt.
- So far as I am aware, the standard form of injunction was first used by Sir Stephen Brown P in the Cleveland case on 4 May 1988 following his judgment in Re W and others (Wards) (Publication of Information)  1 FLR 246 . That case, as I have said, brought to prominence the limited effect of s 12 of the 1960 Act. The injunction granted by Sir Stephen Brown P, which was consciously modelled on s 39 of the 1933 Act, was to substantially the same effect as paragraphs (1)(a)(i), (1)(a)(ii) and (1)(b)(i) of the injunction granted in the present case by Wilson J, though the equivalent of paragraph (1)(a)(ii) referred only to schools and not to any other institutions: see the form of injunction set out in the Report of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Cleveland 1987, Cm 412, para 16.50 and App K. In that form the injunction granted by the President went little, if at all, beyond what would in any event have been authorised by s 39 of the 1933 Act.
- In Re C (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment) (No 2)  Fam 39 was a case where the plight of a gravely ill and dying baby had aroused considerable public controversy and enormous media attention. An injunction was granted which included, and to some extent went beyond, the restraints imposed by paragraphs (1) and (2) of Wilson J's order; it also contained proviso (iii): see the form of order set out  Fam 39 at p 53. It is important to understand the reasons why, as the Court of Appeal explained, those restraints were appropriate, even though they went significantly further than those imposed in the Cleveland case. Essentially, the justification for protecting the identities not merely of the child but also of her parents and her professional and other carers was two-fold: first, to protect those people from pressures and strains which might adversely impact upon their ability to care for the baby, and thus adversely affect her welfare; secondly, to reinforce the equitable duties of confidentiality owed by them to the baby. Similar considerations justified the prohibition against solicitation of information in a case where there was a very real fear of 'doorstepping' by the media.
- The form of injunction which had emerged in Re W and others (Wards) (Publication of Information)  1 FLR 246 and been elaborated in In Re C (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment) (No 2)  Fam 39 was further refined in In Re M & N (Minors) (Wardship: Publication of Information)  Fam 211 . Paragraphs (1) and (2) of the injunction imposed in that case assumed for the first time what has now become the standard form: see the order set out  Fam 211 at p 228.
- Proviso (iii), as I have said, first appeared in In Re C (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment) (No 2)  Fam 39 . Provisos (i), (ii) (though without the word "lawfully"), and (v) first appeared in the injunction granted by Sir Stephen Brown P in Re C (A Minor) (15 March 1990, unreported) , a case to which I referred in Kelly at p 91H. That was a case in which, in the context of forthcoming proceedings in the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, involving a child convicted of murder, an unsuccessful attempt was made in the Family Division to restrain both the reporting of the proceedings in the Court of Appeal - hence proviso (i) - and the re-publication of the reports of the previous proceedings at the child's trial - hence proviso (ii).
- Proviso (iv) first appeared in the order made by Douglas Brown J in the Rochdale case on 27 November 1990 . As I explained in Kelly at p 93D, the purpose of this is to preserve both the source's right to approach the media and the media's right to exploit to the full information supplied by anyone who is willing to speak to the media. Its effect is that those within the scope of the injunction in paragraph (2) who want to talk to the media have to make the first move. Its purpose is to enable those who want to talk to the media to do so freely whilst protecting from the media's attentions those within the scope of paragraph (2) who do not wish to talk to the media.
- The importance of proviso (iv) is the recognition it gives to the principle that, other than in an exceptional case such as In Re C (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment) (No 2)  Fam 39 (In Re Z (A Minor) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication)  Fam 1 is another example), where there is a demonstrated need to protect the child's equitable right of confidentiality, the essential justification for the court's intervention is to protect the child and those who care for it from harassment. As Neill LJ said in In Re W (A Minor) (Wardship: Restrictions on Publication)  1 WLR 100 at p 103F:
"Any restraint on publication which is imposed is intended to protect the ward and those who care for the ward from the risk of harassment."
- The word "lawfully" which qualifies proviso (ii) in the order made by Wilson J in the present case was not, as I have said, included in the order in Re C (A Minor) . It was, so far as I am aware, first adopted in about 1996. Its purpose is said to be to prevent the republication of information published in breach of, for example, an in personam injunction. I have some doubts as to whether this reasoning was ever sound but the point, it seems to me, is now academic. Assuming that a public domain proviso is appropriate at all, and as I said in Kelly at p 93A in my judgment any contra mundum injunction should normally be qualified by such a proviso, it seems to me to follow that the form of the proviso should from now on be in line with that approved by the Court of Appeal in Attorney-General v Times Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 97,  CAT 01/0085 (the MI6 / Tomlinson case). I reject Miss Wood's arguments that a more limited form of proviso is appropriate.
- There is one final point I should like to emphasise. As I have observed, the standard form of contra mundum order consists in essence of two injunctions, the first restraining identification and the second solicitation. It follows, as it seems to me, from the principles which I have summarised in paragraphs 339–342 above that those who seek to obtain an injunction contra mundum in the standard form must demonstrate
(a) first, that it is necessary for there to be an injunction protecting the identities of each of the categories of person referred to in paragraph (1) of the standard form; and
(b) secondly and quite separately, that it is necessary for there to be an injunction restraining solicitation in relation to each of the categories of person referred to in paragraph (2) of the standard form.
It should not be assumed that, merely because there is a demonstrated need for an injunction to protect certain persons' identities, there is necessarily also a need to protect those persons from solicitation. There may be cases where an injunction confined to paragraph (1) of the standard form will suffice. If an injunction in the form of paragraph (2) of the standard form is to be granted, there has to be a convincing evidential basis for fearing that, absent such an injunction, the child or those close to the child will be exposed to 'doorstepping' or similar harassment by the media. However, as I observed in Kelly at p 85B, the need for proper evidence does not mean that the court cannot use its common sense.
- So much for the principles. How ought they to be applied in the somewhat unusual circumstances of the present case?
- I have already in Part VIII of this judgment explained why, as it seems to me, there is an imperative need to give not merely the mother but also Mr Harris's children the continuing protection of a raft of injunctions. I have already drawn attention to the debilitating effects on both the mother and the children of Mr Harris's antics, of the strain under which they live and of how they have been left with a beleaguered feeling of being stalked and harassed (see for example paragraphs 210, 212, 298–299, 305–306 and 316–317 above). And I have already expressed the conclusion that Mr Harris is simply not to be trusted and that his assurances of good behaviour are worthless (see paragraphs 297 and 304 above). Furthermore there is, as Miss Wood observes, a cold-bloodedly calculating and potentially dangerous side to Mr Harris's personality (see paragraphs 36, 228 and 230 above).
- But the matter does not end there for, as Miss Wood also points out, Mr Harris has shown himself relentlessly adept at getting information to and enlisting the assistance of the media in what can only be considered his determined and unrelenting war of attrition against the mother and his children. Many examples of this are to be found in the events of the last year as I have described them in Part III of this judgment. Moreover, as Miss Wood points out, this is one of Mr Harris's self-proclaimed tactics. See, for example, what he wrote in his letter to Plymouth dated 19 November 2000 (paragraph 171 above - "The press seem very hungry for these stories"), his letter to the Official Solicitor dated 25 November 2000 (paragraphs 174–175 above - "A national newspaper .... are "chomping at the bit"" and "I have established press links, and learned how to attract ongoing attention") and his letter to the Official Solicitor dated 29 November 2000 (paragraph 177 above - "the national press will have a field day"). Miss Wood also draws my attention in this context to Dr Cameron's fears (see paragraph 227 above) that Mr Harris will escalate his campaigns of public displays and aggression thereby "jeopardising the safety and well-being of his children" and also to what Dr Cameron described (see paragraph 228 above) as Mr Harris's "ominous" statement that it is his intention not to go away.
- In these circumstances it seems to me that the case is amply made out not merely for the imposition of all the other injunctions that I propose to continue but also for the exercise of the court's inherent jurisdiction, both in personam and contra mundum, in order to protect Mr Harris's children from the harassment to which, without such protection, I am satisfied they will be exposed. Miss Wood has in my judgment demonstrated convincingly that such relief is, in the sense in which the word is used in this context, necessary to protect the children from clear and identifiable harm. She has also persuaded me that there needs to be a contra mundum injunction as well as an in personam injunction, given Mr Harris's predilection for disobeying injunctions and given also the obstacles in the way of effectively enforcing an in personam injunction having regard to the difficulties there may be in establishing either that Mr Harris is the source of any offending story in the media or that the media when it published was aware of the existence of the injunction. Moreover, such an injunction is, I am satisfied, needed to protect the children and their mother, who is, of course, their carer, from being directly solicited, approached, photographed or otherwise harassed by the media.
- In short I am satisfied that, in principle, there should remain in force both the contra mundum injunction originally imposed hy Wilson J on 7 November 1997 and also the in personam injunction originally imposed by the President on 20 November 1997.
- There remains, however, one issue of some importance which arises in relation to both these orders. Wilson J's order arguably, and as it stands the President's order almost certainly, purport to prohibit Mr Harris publicising his case in the manner in which he has been wont to do on those numerous occasions when he has staged or participated in public protests either outside court buildings or at the houses of the judges. This is an aspect of the injunctions which, I have to confess, troubles me considerably.
- I have described each of these incidents in some detail in Part III of this judgment. Common to most of them is the fact that Mr Harris identifies himself, or is identified by the media, as "Mark Harris" of "Plymouth" and that he communicates, to all who are prepared to listen, that his dissatisfaction with the system arises out of his experience as a litigant in long-running contact proceedings relating to his three daughters. Common to all of these incidents, however, is that Mr Harris has neither named his daughters nor sought to disclose in public the details of the proceedings.
- Until she withdrew this part of her committal application, mother's case appears to have been (to take the events referred to in paragraph 136 above as an example) that it was a breach of Wilson J's order for a newspaper to carry a report that Mr Harris was demonstrating outside the house of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P in protest at the present state of the law in relation to residence and contact if the newspaper published Mr Harris's name or photograph and went on to say (as it had to if the story was to make much sense) that he had been involved in protracted disputes with his former wife in relation to access to his own children.
- Now the House of Lords has repeatedly emphasised in recent years the high value attributed by our law to freedom of expression and the vital role it plays in our democracy. As Lord Steyn has recently observed, freedom of speech is the lifeblood of democracy; amongst many other objectives it acts as a brake on the abuse of power by public officials and facilitates the exposure of errors in the administration of justice: R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex p Simms  2 AC 115 at p 126G. I emphasise that last point. Moreover, as Miss Wood acknowledged, referring to Re W (Wardship: Discharge: Publicity)  2 FLR 466 at p 474 and Kelly at pp 77F and 87C, the representation of children in family proceedings and the role of the Official Solicitor are matters of public interest, as are the workings of the family court system and any perceived bias in that system.
- In this, as one might expect, our domestic jurisprudence faithfully mirrors Convention jurisprudence. As the European Court of Human Rights said in Prager and Oberschlick v Austria (1995) 21 EHRR 1 at p 19–20 (para 34) and, to much the same effect, in De Haes and Gijsels v Belgium (1997) 25 EHRR 1 at pp 52–53 (para 37):
"The Court reiterates that the press plays a pre-eminent role in a State governed by the rule of law. Although it must not overstep certain bounds set, inter alia , for the protection of the reputation of others, it is nevertheless incumbent on it to impart - in a way consistent with its duties and responsibilities - information and ideas on political questions and on other matters of public interest. This undoubtedly includes questions concerning the functioning of the system of justice, an institution that is essential for any democratic society. The press is one of the means by which politicians and public opinion can verify that judges are discharging their heavy responsibilities in a manner that is in conformity with the aim which is the basis of the task entrusted to them."
- Moreover, as the House of Lords has very recently held, the common law right of citizens to assemble together in public for the purpose of expressing their views includes the right of citizens to assemble on the public highway for the purpose of protesting and demonstrating, provided that this does not unreasonably impede the passage of other citizens: DPP v Jones  2 AC 240
- It follows that, in principle, Mr Harris is fully entitled to protest on the pavement or anywhere elsewhere on the public highway about what he conceives to be failings on the part of individual judges or failings in the judicial system. These rights are, of course, underpinned by articles 10 and 11 of the Convention. I emphasis on the public highway, for I should not want Mr Harris or anyone else in a similar position to misunderstand what I am saying. There is no right of access to private property for the purpose of protesting, demonstrating or expressing one's views. Those who trespass on private land for such purposes may expose themselves not merely to civil action but also in certain circumstances to criminal proceedings. And those who demonstrate in court may, whatever the justice of their cause, very well find themselves convicted of contempt and imprisoned: cf., Morris v Crown Office  2 QB 114 . So too may those whose demonstrations, albeit outside court and even on the public highway, are so noisy as to disturb proceedings in court: cf., Bodden v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  2 QB 397 .
- But if I am correct as to the effect of the President's order, the result is to my mind very disturbing. For if I am correct, the result of the invention by the judges of the Family Division of this novel jurisdiction has been to place in the hands of the judges a novel power to make orders one of the effects of which is to prohibit a particular class of disappointed litigants - that is, litigants in the Family Division - from criticising the judges or demonstrating publicly in protest at the judicial system. Attractive though it might seem to the judges themselves that they should have it, such a power of prior restraint is, it seems to me, most undesirable and, indeed, potentially dangerous. For as Hoffmann LJ memorably remarked in R v Central Independent Television PLC  Fam 192 at p 203A,
"a freedom which is restricted to what judges think to be responsible or in the public interest is no freedom. Freedom means the right to publish things which government and judges, however well motivated, think should not be published. It means the right to say things which "right-thinking people" regard as dangerous or irresponsible."
Or, as Lord Denning MR said in In Re X (A Minor) (Wardship: Jurisdiction)  Fam 47 at p 58B,
"freedom of speech .... means freedom, not only for the statements of opinion of which we approve, but also for those of which we most heartily disapprove."
- The freedom to publish things which judges might think should not be published is all the more important where the subject of what is being said is the judges themselves. Any judicial power to punish such publications requires the most cogent justification. Even more cogent must be the justification for giving the judges a power of prior restraint - and prior restraint is, of course, what is in issue in the present case. I refer in this context to what Keene LJ said in Douglas v Hello! Ltd  2 WLR 992 at p 1032H.
- I do not want Mr Harris or anyone else in a similar position to be under misapprehension as to exactly what I am saying. As I pointed out in Kelly at p 72D by reference to what Lord Bridge of Harwich had said in P v Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Newspapers PLC  2 AC 370 , there may be circumstances in which such publications or protests will involve contempt, not under section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960, nor necessarily because of the terms of any injunction that may have been granted, but as interfering with or prejudicing the administration of justice: see now in this context Attorney-General v Punch Ltd (2001) Times March 30 . Moreover, it is a contempt of court to interfere with the course of justice by threatening, intimidating or otherwise interfering with an officer of the court, a witness or a litigant. That of course is what the Attorney-General's Proceedings and Plymouth's application were about and also why, as I said in paragraph 164 above, I took such a serious view of the letter which Mr Harris sent to the mother's solicitors on 18 October 2000.
- In this context I repeat what I said in paragraph 346 above as to the significance of the words "of itself" in the proviso to paragraph 1 of the contra mundum order. Doing any of the things mentioned in the proviso cannot be a breach of the order; but that does not mean that, in an appropriate case, it may not involve the commission of some other species of contempt.
- Furthermore, it may be that it is still contempt of court to engage in scurrilous abuse of a judge qua judge, or to make unwarranted attacks upon the integrity or impartiality of a judge. Article 10(2) of the Convention, after all, recognises that there may be circumstances in which some restrictions on freedom of expression will be "necessary" in order to "maintain the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."
- But it is certainly not a contempt of court to engage in reasoned criticism of the judicial system or of the judiciary, whether that criticism be of an individual judge or of the judiciary as a whole, and even if the criticism is expressed in vigorous, trenchant or outspoken terms. For that which is lawful if expressed in the temperate or scholarly language of a legal periodical or the broadsheet press does not become unlawful simply because expressed in the more robust, colourful or intemperate language of the tabloid press or even in language which is crude, insulting and vulgar. Judges, after all, are expected to be, and I have no doubt are, men and women of fortitude, able to thrive in a hardy climate, and the vehemence of the language used cannot of itself measure the power to punish for contempt. On the contrary, so long as it does not undermine what in article 10(2) is referred to as "the authority and impartiality of the judiciary", such criticism is healthy. There is, I think, much to be said for the view that the judges must be kept mindful of their limitations and of their ultimate public responsibility by a vigorous stream of criticism expressed with candour however blunt. Moreover, a much more robust view must, in my judgment, be taken today than previously of what ought rightly to be allowed to pass as permissible criticism. Society is more tolerant today of strong or even offensive language. Society has in large part lost its previous habit of deferential respect. Much of what might well, even in the comparatively recent past, have been considered by the judges to be scurrilous abuse of themselves or their brethren has today, as it seems to me, to be recognised as amounting to no more than acceptable if trenchant criticism.
- The European Court of Human Rights has frequently reiterated (see, for example, De Haes and Gijsels v Belgium (1997) 25 EHRR 1 at p 55 (paras 46 and 48)) that, subject of course to paragraph (2), freedom of expression as secured in paragraph (1) of Article 10 is applicable not only to 'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any section of the community. Article 10 protects not only the substance of the ideas and information expressed, but also the form in which they are conveyed. As the Court said in Jersild v Denmark (1994) 19 EHRR 1 at pp 26 (para 31) and 28 (para 34), "It is not for this Court, nor for the national courts for that matter, to substitute their own views for those of the press as to what technique of reporting should be adopted by journalists". So the Court recognises "the journalist's discretion as to the form of expression used". Article 10 permits recourse to a degree of exaggeration, or even provocation, and entitles journalists and others to adopt a particular form of presentation intended to ensure a particularly telling effect on the average reader. As Neill LJ recognised in In Re W (A Minor) (Wardship: Restrictions on Publication)  1 WLR 100 at p 103F, a tabloid newspaper is entitled to tell the story in a manner which will engage the interest of the general public.
- As I have already mentioned, the judiciary stand in a slightly different position from others because of article 10(2). In Prager and Oberschlick v Austriathe European Court of Human Rights continued, immediately after the passage I have quoted in paragraph 364 above:
"Regard must, however, be had to the special role of the judiciary in society. As the guarantor of justice, a fundamental value in a law-governed State, it must enjoy public confidence if it is to be successful in carrying out its duties. It may therefore prove necessary to protect such confidence against destructive attacks that are essentially unfounded, especially in view of the fact that judges who have been criticised are subject to a duty of discretion that precludes them from replying."
And in Worm v Austria (1997) 25 EHRR 454 at pp 472–473 (para 40), the Court said:
"The phrase "authority of the judiciary" includes, in particular, the notion that the courts are, and are accepted by the public at large as being, the proper forum for the settlement of legal disputes and for the determination of a person's guilt or innocence on a criminal charge; further, that the public at large have respect for and confidence in the court's capacity to fulfil that function. "Impartiality" normally denotes lack of prejudice or bias. However, the Court has repeatedly held that what is at stake in maintaining the impartiality of the judiciary is the confidence which the courts in a democratic society must inspire in the accused, as far as criminal proceedings are concerned, and also in the public at large. It follows that, in seeking to maintain the "authority and impartiality of the judiciary", the Contracting States are entitled to take account of considerations going - beyond the concrete case - to the protection of the fundamental role of courts in a democratic society."
- Where precisely the line is to be drawn in any particular case has to be determined according to normal Convention principles, principally, as Sedley LJ said in Douglas v Hello! Ltd  2 WLR 992 at p 1029F, by considerations of proportionality. However, as the European Court of Human Rights went on to observe in Worm v Austria at p 474 (para 47), the interest of democratic society in ensuring and maintaining a free press "will weigh heavily in the balance" in determining whether a restriction is proportionate to the legitimate aim of maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. Drawing the line may be difficult, as shown by a comparison of Barfod v Denmark (1989) 13 EHRR 493 , Prager and Oberschlick v Austria (1995) 21 EHRR 1 and De Haes and Gijsels v Belgium (1997) 25 EHRR . But I note that in the last of these cases journalistic attacks on the Belgian judiciary and on named judges were held by the European Court of Human Rights to be protected by Article 10 even though couched in a "polemical and even aggressive tone".
- Again, I do not want either Mr Harris or those in a similar position to be under any misapprehensions. Comment however forthright is one thing. Intimidation quite another. Intimidation, harassment, and similar activities may give rise not merely to civil liability but also to criminal penalties. And attempts to threaten or intimidate a judge, however foredoomed to inevitable failure, may also constitute contempt of court.
- Now, apart from the question of whether they involved him in any breach of Wilson J's order, an allegation which, as I have said, was not in the event pursued before me, I am not concerned directly in these proceedings with the question of whether Mr Harris's repeated demonstrations and attacks on the judicial system and on particular judges have amounted to contempts of court. But the potential ambit of this branch of the law of contempt does seem to me to be of some significance in determining how the court should exercise its injunctive powers. For if the better view is that what Mr Harris has been doing in the course of his demonstrations and protests (I leave on one side the events which triggered the Attorney-General's Proceedings and the application by Plymouth) is not of itself a contempt of court absent any injunction - and that, without having heard full argument on the point, seems to me at least a plausible view, threats or intimidation apart - then that, in my judgment, provides a reason, and it may be a powerful reason, for saying that the court should not, even in a case involving children, exercise its inherent jurisdiction to prohibit such activities.
- If Mr Harris wishes to stand on the pavement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand or outside the Combined Court Centre in Plymouth demonstrating in the manner which I have described in Part III of this judgment who are the judges to say by means of an injunction that he should not. If Mr Harris wishes to say on television what he said on the occasion referred to in paragraph 125 above, it is not, I think, for the judges to say by means of an injunction that he should not. Nor, as it seems to me, is it for the judges by injunction to say that newspapers which wish to report his demonstrations or broadcasters who wish to disseminate Mr Harris's views should not be able to do so. For if it is correct that Mr Harris's activities constitute breaches either of the contra mundum injunction granted by Wilson J on 7 November 1997 or of the in personam injunction granted by the President on 20 November 1997, it must follow (subject only to proof of knowledge of the relevant orders) that the newspapers which published reports of his activities and the broadcasters who broadcast his views thereby committed corresponding contempts of court.
- In this regard I also bear in mind that, as the European Court of Human Rights said in Jersild v Denmark (1994) 19 EHRR 1 at p 28 (para 35):
"News reporting based on interviews, whether edited or not, constitutes one of the most important means whereby the press is able to play its vital role of "public watchdog." The punishment of a journalist for assisting in the dissemination of statements made by another person in an interview would seriously hamper the contribution of the press to discussion of matters of public interest and should not be envisaged unless there are particularly strong reasons for doing so."
- For all these reasons it seems to me that both the contra mundum injunction and the relevant parts of the in personam injunction should be qualified by appropriate words making absolutely clear that, subject to appropriate safeguards, the injunction is not "of itself" to prevent the publication or public display of the information that "Mark Harris" or "Mr Harris" of "Plymouth" is or has been involved in proceedings in court relating to his contact with the three daughters of his marriage.
- I stress the importance of the words "of itself" and repeat in this context what I have already said in paragraphs 346 and 370 above as to the significance of these words.
- Mr Alford and Miss Wood, whilst recognising Mr Harris's right to freedom of expression and his right in principle to protest in the kind of way he has in the past, including his right to describe himself as a disgruntled father and litigant, submit that there is no reason why, if he wishes to do so, he or others should be permitted in this connection to use either his photograph or his name - which is, of course, also the children's name. Miss Wood submits that although there may be a real public interest in his story, there can be no public interest in his identity.
- One of the troubles with this approach, as I pointed out in the course of argument, is that it might simply encourage Mr Harris to go about at demonstrations ostentatiously wearing a paper bag over his head with a no doubt facetious inscription explaining why his face could not be shown. That would hardly protect the children from knowing exactly what was going on and could well make Mr Harris seem even more of a martyr. Miss Wood then suggested that although it might be acceptable to allow Mr Harris's photograph to be published - presumably as "The Dad who for legal reasons we can only call Mr X" - there should continue to be a ban on the publication or broadcast of Mr Harris's name in this context. Ultimately, I think, she accepted that Mr Harris and others should be allowed to publish his photograph, and perhaps even the fact that he comes from Plymouth (though not any more precise address), but that his name should not be published.
- I do not agree. I have, as it seems to me, to weigh Mr Harris's rights under articles 10 and 11 against the children's rights under article 8, adopting for this purpose the same approach as Sedley LJ in Douglas v Hello! Ltd . I cannot properly prevent Mr Harris and his confederates from demonstrating and protesting in public, and to the extent that this of itself inflicts harm on his children I am powerless to protect them. The children are already all too aware of his public campaign, having been exposed to it for a long time. It seems to me that insofar as they are likely to be adversely affected by any continuing campaign most of the damage has already been done (see Dr Cameron's views referred to in paragraphs 218, 222 and 226 above). Moreover, much the greater part of the damage which the children have suffered at Mr Harris's hands has nothing to do with his public demonstrations but on the contrary has resulted from his abuse of the contact sessions and his endless breaches of the injunctions designed to keep him away from the children and their mother. Furthermore it must be remembered that the question I am currently considering is not whether Mr Harris should be prevented from carrying on his campaign but only the much narrower question of whether, in addition to all the other restrictions imposed by the in personam order and the contra mundum order, he and the media should be prevented from using his name and photograph in this context. The reality, it seems to me, is that the children, and those of their friends who are already in the picture, will, as I have already said, know perfectly well what is going on, and what Mr Harris is getting up to, whether he is described in the media as Mark Harris of Plymouth or as "The Dad from somewhere in the South-West who for legal reasons we can only call Mr X". Any future adverse effects on the children of Mr Harris's continuing campaign are, it seems to me, going to be brought about by their knowledge of what he is doing, and by what they perceive in their minds as his misbehaviour, not by their seeing his name or photograph in the media. I am wholly unpersuaded that those damaging effects are going to be enhanced to any real extent if Mr Harris's identity is known to the public or is revealed in a newspaper read by the children or their friends or if his name or photograph are shown on television in a programme seen by the children or their friends.
- In the result I am satisfied that the injunctions should be qualified in the way I have already described. I have come to this conclusion for two quite separate reasons, both of which, as it happens, point in the same direction: first, that it is wrong in principle to prevent the media and someone in Mr Harris's position making use of his name and photograph in connection with a campaign of protest of the kind that Mr Harris wishes to pursue; secondly, because I am in any event wholly unpersuaded that the use of either Mr Harris's name or his photograph in the way I envisage will inflict on his children any damage such as could justify the extension of the court's protective powers over them to prevent it.
- This result may be thought deeply unattractive by some. Mr Harris has manipulated the press by feeding it tendentious accounts of these proceedings, enabled to do so because he has been able hypocritically to shelter behind the very privacy of the proceedings which hitherto has prevented anyone correcting his misrepresentations. Mr Harris is a man, as Wilson J observed (see paragraph 34 above), devoid of moral scruple. He is a man, as I have already commented, who will stoop to any depths in order to have his way (see paragraph 164 above). He stole Miss Wood's file (paragraph 27 above). He committed a criminal assault on Dr Cameron's car for the very purpose of engineering his own prosecution (see paragraph 150 above), I have no doubt, so that he could use the publicity of criminal proceedings, and what he plainly believed to be the absolute privilege which attaches to anything said in such proceedings, as a means of publicly vilifying Dr Cameron and making outrageous and fatuous allegations against him. He has not hesitated, as I have had occasion to mention (paragraphs 163–164 above), to resort to outrageous and disgusting threats in a blatant attempt to put pressure on the mother to desist from pursuing entirely justified committal proceedings. He has indicated in the course of uttering those threats his intention to abuse the process of the court by asking wholly irrelevant questions for entirely collateral and improper purposes. He has threatened and sought to exert wholly improper pressure on the Official Solicitor and his staff (see paragraphs 146, 161, 175 and 177 above). In the same way he has threatened and sought to exert wholly improper pressure on Plymouth and its social workers (see paragraphs 171 and 179 above). Correspondence which I have set out (see paragraphs 145–146, 171 and 174–175 above) displays his breathtaking cynicism and the way in which he abuses and manipulates those who believe, wholly erroneously and misguidedly, as it seems to me, that his involvement in organisations such as DADS, FNF and EPP is principled and sincere when in fact it is neither.
- Mr Harris is an unprincipled charlatan. In these circumstances the temptation to use the court's injunctive powers to their full extremity in order to control his public protests is, I have to confess, very great. But the temptation must be resisted, for a judge, although it may be that on occasions he can legitimately exercise the functions of an aedile, is no censor. If Mr Harris is to be restrained from his campaign of protest and demonstration it can only be if he oversteps the bounds of the law, not because it might be thought desirable to injunct him. As Lord Oliver of Aylmerton robustly observed in Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd  1 WLR 1248 at p 1320G:
"the liberty of the press is essential to the nature of a free state. The price that we pay is that that liberty may be and sometimes is harnessed to the carriage of liars and charlatans, but that cannot be avoided if the liberty is to be preserved."
- The remedy for Mr Harris's antics, and the proper antidote to his public demonstrations and protests, is not an unprincipled and probably futile attempt to gag him. The remedy is publicity for the truth which at present lies concealed behind his unfounded complaints. And that is one of the reasons why, as I have said, I am giving this judgment in public. As Brandeis J said in Whitney v California (1927) 274 US 357 at p 77,
"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."
Moreover there is, I suspect, force in the view that enforced silence which might erroneously be seen, if only by the malevolent, as intended to preserve the dignity of the bench would probably engender resentment, suspicion and contempt much more than it would enhance respect.
- As I have already said, I have done my best in this judgment, as in the orders I have made, to hold the proper balance between the public's right to know, underpinned by articles 6 and 10 of the Convention, and the parties', and particularly the children's, rights to privacy and respect for their private and family life, underpinned by article 8 of the Convention. I have considered very anxiously whether the delivery of this judgment in public is consistent with the children's best interests. Often - indeed typically - the balance between the parties' privacy and the public interest can best be achieved by allowing the story to be published whilst preserving the parties' anonymity. In the present case, however, many of the public interests as I have identified them (see paragraph 4 above) can be met only if the hitherto unpublished story is not merely made available but linked quite explicitly with the story about Mr Harris which is already so extensively in the public domain. So the public interest argues strongly in favour not merely of publishing the judgment but also of publishing Mr Harris's name, and thus inevitably linking the story to his, albeit unnamed, children. Will this harm the children? I have already considered a closely related issue in paragraph 384 above. Many of the matters I there evaluated are equally relevant here. They suggest that, in the perhaps unusual circumstances of this case, the children will not suffer as much harm as might in other cases be inflicted by adopting the course I am proposing. However, in addition to those matters there are two other factors which seem to me to require putting in the balance. In the first place, whether or not this judgment is published, Mr Harris will be restrained by paragraphs 10(e) and 10(f) of the order from putting any further details of the case into the public domain and the media will be restrained by paragraph 1(2) of the contra mundum order from approaching the children or their mother. In other words the publication of this judgment will not expose the children to a free for all. Far from it. Secondly, and looking both to the immediate future and also to the longer term, I have come to the conclusion that if this case is to remain the subject of public debate (and whatever I do Mr Harris and his supporters will do everything in their power to ensure that it does) the children's own best interests will be furthered by the public being told the truth and by the media, if they wish to pursue the case, publishing something I would hope closer to what I believe to be the truth than the tendentious stories hitherto fed to them by Mr Harris and his ilk. In other words there will, I think, be positive advantage to the children in this judgment being made publicly available. That advantage has to be set against such disadvantages as there may be. I think that the disadvantages are counter-balanced by the advantage I have identified. When that balance of advantage and disadvantage to the children is set alongside the clear public interest in making the judgment publicly available in this form, I am satisfied that the overall balance comes down in favour of publication.
- In conclusion I add only this. Her Majesty's judges will not be deterred from doing their duty by such antics as Mr Harris and his associates have chosen to indulge in. No amount of intimidation, whether demonstrating outside their courts or outside their homes, vilifying them on the Internet or bombarding them with offensive letters, will have any effect on the judges or their families, or deflect the judges from their sworn duty to do right to all manner of people, without fear or favour affection or ill will, or alter their approaches to the cases they are called upon to try. I wish to endorse in the clearest possible terms and associate myself with what the Official Solicitor said in his letter to Mr Harris dated 5 December 2000 (see paragraph 178 above):
"I deprecate your repeated threats to escalate public demonstrations specifically aimed at judges or others involved in your case unless the court orders your contact to be increased. You fundamentally mistake the commitment they give to upholding the rule of law. This office will continue to do what it believes to be right in representing the best interests of your daughters and will not be deflected by such threats."
- I propose therefore to make orders in the terms of the orders attached to this judgment. There will be a separate order in the Attorney-General's Proceedings.
- As I have already set out, on 12 April 2001 I dismissed Mr Harris's application to purge his contempt. Within only a matter of days, on 15 April 2001, Mr Harris wrote to me from HM Prison Pentonville seeking leave to disclose, to the General Medical Council, the British Medical Association and the police, the parts of the Main Judgment relating to Dr Cameron. That application has now been overtaken by events because the relevant matters, being set out in this judgment, are now in the public domain. So Mr Harris does not need my leave to take any of the steps he threatens. In his letter, however, Mr Harris makes the fatuous assertion in relation to Dr Cameron that
"HE SHOULD BE IN HERE FOR PERVERTING THE COURSE OF JUSTICE."
Anyone who cares to read my judgment with any degree of care will see that there is absolutely no basis for this wild and indeed absurd suggestion. Mr Harris also asks me to raise what he chooses to call Dr Cameron's "misrepresentations" with the Attorney-General. I will do no such thing: there is no conceivable basis for doing so. His letter merely demonstrates that nothing has changed and that, even now, Mr Harris has learned nothing. He apparently remains determined to continue headstrong and headlong down a road which cannot give him the contact with his children he so desperately wants and which will lead him only to misery. It is a great sadness to me that even now Mr Harris remains unwilling and unable to move forward.
Plymouth agreeing that it wil] examine all letters, cards and presents sent to
it for transmission to any of the children pursuant to paragraphs 6(a), 7(b)
and 8(b) of this Order and will give or forward to the respective child any
such letter, card or present unless, in its opinion, the content is unsuitable
father having sought permission to appeal against paragraphs 5, 6, 9(a)(ii) and
9(a)(iii) of this Order
otherwise expressly provided by this Order all outstanding applications made by
the father, including but not limited to the applications listed in the
Schedule to the Order made by Mr Justice Munby on 30 October 2000, are
discharged with immediate effect insofar as they are currently in force:
relating to residence or contact in respect of ... ("the children"), and
previously given (either to this Court or to the Court of Appeal) and all
injunctions previously made (either by this Court or by the Court of Appeal) in
For the avoidance
of doubt (i) nothing in paragraph 2(b) of this order shall affect any direction
previously given in this action (either by this Court or by the Court of
Appeal) pursuant to section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and
(ii) all such directions shall continue in force.
The children shall
continue to live with the mother.
There shall be no
direct contact or telephone contact between the father and the children until
The father shall
have indirect contact with the children as follows:
By means of a card
(to include if he wishes one banknote) sent to each child at Christmas and on
their birthdays and one summer holiday postcard sent to each child; all such
cards to be sent through, and be subject to the prior approval of, Plymouth.
The mother shall
(i) permit the respective child to receive, read and keep any card which
Plymouth in its discretion has given or forwarded to that child and (ii)
encourage and facilitate that each child (in a manner appropriate to the
respective child's age and understanding) writes to the father at reasonable
For the avoidance
of doubt (i) no part of this Order requires any child to write to the father if
that child does not wish to do so and (ii) no part of this Order requires that
the mother or a social worker should see the contents of any letter or card
written by any child to the father.
respondent paternal grandmother ... shall have contact with the children as
Two hours' contact
on four occasions each year supervised by Plymouth.
by means of letter or card sent to each child on one occasion between each such
occasion of supervised contact and presents and cards at Christmas and on their
birthdays; all such letters, cards and presents to be sent through, and be
subject to the prior approval of, Plymouth.
respondent paternal grandfather ... shall have contact with the children as
Two hours' contact
on four occasions each year at his home supervised by Plymouth.
by means of letter or card sent to each child on one occasion between each such
occasion of supervised contact and presents and cards at Christmas and on their
birthdays; all such letters, cards and presents to be sent through, and be
subject to the prior approval of, Plymouth.
So far as concerns
the children's schools the following shall apply notwithstanding that the
father and the mother both have parental responsibility for the children:
The mother may act
alone and without the father (and without having to consult the father)
in notifying the
children's schools of the names addresses telephone numbers and other details
of persons to be contacted in the event of any emergency
in giving or
refusing consent to school outings and other school activities for the children
or any of them;
in giving or
refusing consent to the provision by the children's schools to the father of
advance information about such outings and activities.
schools shall be entitled to act upon any such notification or consent from the
mother without being under any obligation either (i) to consult with the father
or (ii) to give effect to any purported notification or refusal of consent by
As between the
mother and the father (but subject to any other legal obligations affecting the
children's schools) the children's schools shall be obliged to act upon any
such notification or refusal of consent by the mother without being under any
obligation either (i) to consult with the father or (ii) to give effect to any
purported notification or consent by the father.
It is the Court's
intention that as between the mother and the father (but subject to any other
legal obligations affecting the children's schools) the children's schools
should provide the
father with end of term school reports and any other information (except
advance information about such outings and activities) which would otherwise be
sent to a parent; and
should inform the
father as soon as possible in the event of any of the children suffering
anything of a life-threatening nature or likely to require in-patient hospital
for the avoidance of doubt no part of this order authorises or requires the
children's schools not to
provide the father
with end of term school reports and any other information (except advance
information about such outings and activities) which would otherwise be sent to
a parent; or
inform the father
as soon as possible in the event of any of the children suffering anything of a
life-threatening nature or likely to require in-patient hospital treatment.
paragraphs 11 and 12 of this order the father be restrained until
further order whether acting by
himself or by instructing or encouraging any
other person from:
Having or seeking
any contact or communication (whether in writing electronically or orally or by
any sign or signal or otherwise)
with the children
or any of them except as expressly permitted by paragraph 6 of this order;
with the mother
except in writing through her solicitors;
with the following
social workers employed by Plymouth namely ... ("the social workers") except in
writing through Plymouth's Director for Social and Housing Services.
pestering or intimidating by any means direct or indirect:
any of the social
Entering at any
time or for any purpose on foot or in any vehicle or otherwise:
the area in ... Plymouth, shown outlined and hatched on the map annexed hereto except as expressly
permitted by sub- paragraph (d) below;
[a named road in] Plymouth.
or entering any part of the land or premises of any school of which any of the
children is a pupil, or attending either there or elsewhere any event organised
by such a school unless:
none of the
children is present there and
he is keeping an
appointment to meet an officer of the school which has been confirmed to him in
advance in writing by the school (a copy of such confirmation to be sent by the
school to the children's nominated social worker and to the mother)
that there shall be no more than two such appointments at each school in each
permitting any step likely to expose the mother or any of the children to any
form of publicity (including the publication or public display of their names
or addresses or schools) arising from
the proceedings herein.
otherwise communicating the names or addresses or schools or any matter
relating to the family circumstances (including the details of any proceedings
before any court) of the mother or any of the children with or to any organ of
the media (whether a newspaper, periodical, sound, television, satellite or
cable broadcasting company, or public computer network) or with or to any other
a solicitor or
barrister for the purpose of seeking legal advice or representation;
representatives of the mother;
the Official Solicitor or CAFCASS or Plymouth;
any other person
the court may by written order expressly permit.
attaching to any part of any building or premises any notice, poster, document
or writing identifying any of the social workers.
communicating to anyone else (except a solicitor or barrister for the purpose
of seeking legal advice or representation) or otherwise dealing in any way with
the contents of the personal file belonging to Ms Wood, Counsel for the
Official Solicitor, removed by the father from Court on 3rd November
So long as (i)
neither the father's name nor his address is any further identified or
particularised than as hereinafter provided and (ii) neither the mother nor any
of the children or their schools is named or otherwise identified and (iii)
nothing else is published or displayed in a manner calculated to identify
either the mother or any of the children or their schools, nothing in
paragraphs 10(e) or 10(f) of this order shall of itself prevent the publication
or public display (with or without a photograph of the father) of
that "Mark Harris" or "Mr Harris" of "Plymouth" is or has been involved in
proceedings in the County Court the Family Division of the High Court and the
Court of Appeal relating to his contact with the three daughters of his
the text or a summary
of any order made in these proceedings.
10(a)(iii), 10(b)(ii), 10(c)(ii) and 10(g) of this order shall remain
in effect only until 21 September 2001
The children shall
forthwith cease to be parties herein and the Official Solicitor is accordingly
discharged from further acting on their behalf.
A transcript of
the judgment given to-day (including the discussion after judgment) be made at
public expense and lie on the court file.
A copy of this
order shall be served by the Official Solicitor on Plymouth.
The father is
refused permission to appeal.
There be no order
as to costs save detailed assessments for legal aid or public funding purposes
of the costs of the father and of the mother.
APPEARING TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE JUDGE that the father has persisted in
making groundless applications and that an order in the terms of paragraph 18
of this order is necessary in the interests of the children and with a view to
the just expeditious and fair resolution of any future applications or issues
between the parties
FURTHER ORDERED THAT:
expressly permitted by this Order no party shall without the prior leave of a
Judge of the High Court (Mr Justice Munby if available):
issue file serve
or send to any party or to Plymouth City Council or to Mr Justice Munby or any
other Judge (i) any application in whatever form in or arising out of these
proceedings or (ii) any other document (other than letters in the course of
normal party and party correspondence); or
commence either in
this or in any other court any proceedings arising out of or concerning or
relating to (i) the matters the subject of these proceedings or (ii) any of the
for leave in accordance with paragraph 18 of this order:
shall be made by
notice of application filed with the court at Plymouth Combined Court, The
Courts of Justice, Armada Way, Plymouth, PL1 2ER, setting out precisely the
relief order or directions for which leave to apply is being sought;
shall be supported
by a succinct statement not more than 4 pages long of the reasons why such
leave is sought such statement to be filed with the court at Plymouth Combined Court, The Courts of
Armada Way, Plymouth, PL1 2ER, at the same time as the notice of application;
shall not be
served or sent to any party or to Mr Justice Munby or to any other Judge;
will be dealt with
on paper by a Judge of the High Court (Mr Justice Munby if available) to whom
the court will forthwith transmit any application or statement filed under sub-paragraphs
(a) and (b) above).
If any such
application or other document as is referred to in paragraph 18(a) of this
order is filed served on or sent to any person otherwise than in accordance
with the terms of this Order:
receiving such document shall not be required to take any action in response
application shall stand dismissed without being heard.
If any such
proceedings as are referred to in paragraph 18(b) of this order are commenced
otherwise than in accordance with the terms of this Order:
named in or served with such proceedings shall not be required to take any
action in response thereto; and
proceedings shal I be struck out and stand dismissed without being heard.
And an injunction
is hereby granted restraining unti I further order any person (whether by
himself or by his servants or agents or otherwise howsoever or in the case of a
company whether by its directors or officers servants or agents or otherwise
publishing in any newspaper or broadcasting in any sound or television
broadcast or by means of any cable or satellite programme service or public
computer network ("publishing"):
the name or
mentioned minors being the children whose names and address are set out in the
First Schedule hereto (hereinafter referred to as "the children") or
any school or
other institution or establishment in or at which the children are being
educated or treated (hereinafter referred to as an "establishment ") or
above-mentioned applicant and first second and third respondents being the
persons whose names and addresses are set out in the Second Schedule hereto or
the person whose
name and address are set out in the Third Schedule hereto;
any picture being
or including a picture of either (i) any or all of the children (ii) the
applicant (iii) the first, second and third respondents;
any other matter;
CASE in a manner calculated to lead to the identification:
in the case of the
children of the children either as being the subject of proceedings before the
court or as being the children of Mark Harris of Plymouth;
in the case of any
establishment of such establishment as being an establishment in or at which
any of the children is or are being educated or treated;
in the case of
each of the applicant and the first
as being the parents of the children ("the parents");
in the case of
each of the second and third respondents as being the paternal grandparents of
the children ("the paternal grandparents");
information relating to the children:
from any of the
from (i) the staff
or (ii) the pupils of any establishment;
from the parents
or either of them;
from the paternal
grandparents or either of them;
the provisions of Section 12(2) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 but
without prejudice to paragraph 2 below including in any publication of the text
or a summary of the whole or any part of this Order any of the matters referred
to in paragraph 1(1 )(a);
THAT nothing in this order shall of itself prevent any
particulars of or information relating to any part of the proceedings before
any Court other than a Court sitting in private
or without a photograph of the applicant) (1) the information that "Mark
Harris" or "Mr Harris" of "Plymouth" is or has been involved in proceedings in
the County Court the Family Division of the High Court and the Court of Appeal
relating to his contact with the three daughters of his marriage or (2) the
text or a summary of any order made in these proceedings (but in either case
only if (i) neither the applicant's name nor his address is any further
identified or particularised and (ii) neither the first respondent nor any of
the children or any establishment is named or otherwise identified and (iii)
nothing else is published in a manner calculated to identify either the first
respondent or any of the children or any establishment)
anything which at the date of publication or broadcast by that person has
previously been published or broadcast (whether within or outside the
jurisdiction of the court) in any newspaper or other publication or on by or
through the Internet or any other broadcast or electronic
to such an extent that the information is in the public domain (other than in a
case where the only such publication or broadcast was made by or was caused by
another person as to whether that person is such a person as is referred to in
paragraph 1(2) above
receiving information from any person who has previously approached the person
seeking or receiving information with the purpose of volunteering information
information relating to the child in the course of or for the purpose of the
exercise by the person soliciting such information of any duty or function
authorised by statute or by any court of competent jurisdiction.
Copies of this
order endorsed with a penal notice be served by the Official
on such newspapers
and sound and televison broadcasting or cable or satellite programme services
or public computer networks as the Official Solicitor may think fit in each
case by facsimile transmission or pre-paid first class post addressed to the
editor in the case of a newspaper or senior news editor in the case of a
broadcasting or cable or satellite programme service or public computer network
on such other
persons as the Official Solicitor or the first respondent may think fit in each
case by personal service.
AND any person affected by the injunction in paragraph 1
above (other than the parties) is to be at liberty to apply on no less than 48