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Is It Acceptable to Involve Children in Politics? Family Judge Ponders

In the context of a child contact dispute with unusual political overtones, a father who supports the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has succeeded in overturning a family judge’s decision to ban him from involving his two youngest children in his political activities.

The man was barred from taking the children, both aged under 10, to meetings and rallies at the behest of their mother, who did not share his political views. A district judge found that the children might be emotionally damaged if exposed to sometimes hostile public reactions to UKIP. One of them was said to have been encouraged to hand a leaflet to someone who tore it up in front of him.

The father challenged the ban before a more senior judge, primarily on the basis that he had been denied a fair hearing. He argued that he was not given any notice that his political activities would be an issue in the case and that the ban amounted to a breach of his human right to respect for his privacy and family life.

In overturning the ban, and directing a re-hearing of the matter, the judge said that the father had been afforded no opportunity to give evidence or make submissions in answer to the mother’s assertion that political involvement was having a damaging impact on their children. He urged the ex-couple to attempt to settle their differences, making a fresh hearing unnecessary.