At Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 29 June 2015, Sheriff Kevin Drummond QC sentenced a mother to two months imprisonment and imposed a Community Payback Order on her mother after the two accused made false allegations of domestic abuse to prevent a father getting contact with his child.
In his sentencing statement Sheriff Drummond refers to the public prosecution policy (joint protocol) relating to domestic abuse: “Where there is a deliberate attempt to manipulate the application of that policy by the making of false allegations of criminal conduct; that is behaviour which strikes at the system of justice itself.”
The mother in this case lied to the police, asked her mother to lie to the police to support this original lie, and even stated that her solicitor told her to invent a story.
She only admitted to these lies a number of weeks after the child’s father had been detained by the police, interviewed, charged, spent some 16 hours in custody and was brought before the court.
Families Need Fathers Scotland knows that this use of false allegations happens frequently in child contact disputes. Many fathers find their contact is frustrated for months or years because of such allegations.
Ian Maxwell, national manager of FNF Scotland, said today, “We welcome Sheriff Drummond’s robust sentencing decision and clear explanation for it.
This may be an extreme example of a fabricated allegation in order to discredit and criminalise a former partner and the father of their child but, unfortunately, this kind of manipulation of the current public concern over domestic abuse is not rare. We hear similar examples at most of our group meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Aberdeen.
Sheriff Drummond commended the Crown Office for its investigation of the facts and circumstances in this case that led to the father being detained, handcuffed, held in the cells overnight and appearing in the dock as an accused person. Unfortunately, we know of many cases where no halt was called to the process and a non-resident father has been convicted for what was in effect no more than protesting at the attempts of his former partner to reduce or deny his time with his children.
The Scottish Government has recently concluded a consultation into whether current laws on domestic abuse are sufficient to incorporate what is known as ‘coercive control’. FNF Scotland has urged the government explicitly to include the willful denial or disruption of parenting time as a serious offence within the criteria of coercive control.
We will also be seeking further discussion with the Crown Office and Prosecutor Fiscal Service about the joint protocol in relation to malicious allegations of domestic abuse.”
When domestic abuse is committed by fathers or mothers it should be treated extremely seriously, but false allegations of such abuse are just as serious and deserve equally severe treatment.5 likes