Speaking on ITV - Father's Day Blues - the Trevor MacDonald
17 June 2002.
Interviewed by Jonathan Maitland
"I am heartbroken. I just cannot believe what happens to
- what is done to them in the name of the law.
"You only have to open your eyes to see what I call the 'Sad Dads on Sundays Syndrome'...
"At the heart of the law is a grotesque injustice:
'Women are all angels, men are all ogres'
- by definition of Lord Justice Thorpe's interpretation of this gender-neutral law.
" Something is wrong with the process...
"At Day One I was handed this piece of paper saying 'You may see your children on this day and every second weekend'.
" Why? What had I done? I saw them every day. I took them to school. I bathed them. I fed them. I cooked for them. I read their stories. I cuddled them before going to bed. I listened to them in sleep. Why now was the state and all its instruments of justice - but in this case I call it discrimination - why were they all aimed at me?
"As I was just about to enter court and was very nervous and trying to look neat, a well meaning person came up to me and said: 'One tip Bob - whatever you do don't say you love your children'. I said 'Why?'. The answer was as shocking as it is illustrative. He said: 'Because the courts will deem it unhealthily extreme if a man articulates his love for his children and they'll vote you down'.
"I waited for a long while and I got tired of hearing how much Paula loved her children - which she did - she did endlessly - as did I. And I eventually said: 'I have to say this - I have been advised not to, but your honour I am here - I am bankrupting myself - because I love my children. And all I want to do is to be their dad'.
"The law does the very opposite of what it intends to do. When it denies that the love of a man for his child - which is the real love that dare not speak its name - the love of a man for his child - a father for his child - is equal to the love of a mother for her child. It is precisely equal. It could be expressed in different ways but it is equal, and the law will not recognise that and therefore it is discriminatory and unjust and should be scrapped.
"I also think at the heart of the law is a grotesque injustice. I think it is worded so that it can only be interpreted to favour one party over the other, and so you get - when people break up - a control for one - the children become the weapon and the shield. The weapon is: 'If you do this to me you won't see your children'. So one party has that control. And the shield is: 'Please don't do this to me because I won't let the children see you.' Give me this or you won't see the children; don't do this to me or you won't see the children. The children become the weapon and the shield. Remove this from the battle ground - because it is a battle ground. Make this area neutral.
"I've got more letters than I had for Live Aid - and I've hardly talked about this - I have 70 plastic bin liners full of letters. From men, from women, from children, from grandparents - people forget about the grandparents who never see the kids again. I can't tell you how many more that is than Live Aid, and you know what a phenomenon that was. I am heart broken. I read them sobbing. I just can't believe what happens to people - what is done to them in the name of the law…
"You only have to open your eyes to see what I call the 'Sad Dads on Sundays Syndrome' - in my case Battersea Park - wander though it on a Sunday and just see misery. Go to MacDonalds - go to the MacDads and see them take their kids.
"You say: 'Well they don't have to take them to MacDonalds', but usually yes they do, because when divorce happens a guy will go to try and find accommodation because the children are usually with the mum and so they've got the house. So he is now rejected from the family unit. But in fact why is he rejected from the family unit?. Why? What's he done that would knock him out of the children's life?
"You say: 'Well he is allowed access'.
"Access? What is he? Visiting Pentonville prison? How dare you! You allow me access to my children? The law? I mean if you think about that it's so fundamentally wrong.
"Clearly women give birth and breast feed, and men can't, but does that mean that men are less emotionally able to be nurturing? - and that's the key factor. Children thrive in a loving environment and it matters not one whit whether the love comes from a man or a woman - preferably both when they get security. But there is no study that I am aware of where psychologists have been able to determine from examining somebody whether they were raised from birth by a man or a woman.
"What I really want to focus on is that the law - which promotes justice and equality - is blind and doesn't listen. Family law flies hugely in the face of this, so where the law promotes injustice it will fall. And I'm just trying to say: 'Before it falls, let's just get to the core of it. Let's redraft it, and let's redraft it on the basis of where society is now' - i.e. it's moved ahead of the judges, it's moved ahead of the law. They can't interpret the law to the conditions of today.
"This isn't a male agenda. The law says there's no such thing as father's rights. I would beg to differ. I would say there's mother's rights, children's rights, and father's rights. But once you have that argument you have a parity and equality of rights. And one party's rights cannot be dominant over anothers' - it just can't be - then you don't get rights, then you don't get equality, then you don't get justice - you get injustice.
Transcribed by David Cannon
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Last updated - 19 June 2002