|Tory spin doctor in "cannibal incident"|
"Before the General Election, Tory candidates were obliged to sign-up to a raft of ‘eye-catching’ promises on behalf of the national party, including a deal which the Party did with the campaign group fathers4justice. The group had been responsible for pushing the fathers rights’ agenda for nearly ten years and are regarded as many as the antithesis of feminism (which they blame for family breakdown), attracting as they seem to, angry men who wish to rail against the injustice of being separated from and prevented access to their children – in some cases perhaps with good cause!
Whilst some say the group are ‘aggressive campaigners’, others say they are ‘just aggressive’.
The man who founded fathers4justice, Matt O’Connor, admits to drink and anger problems, and has had mental health issues in the past. The woman who now runs the group, his wife Nadine, claims to suffer mental health problems as a result of domestic violence, but once Tweeted a picture of her 8 year old son in a blood-soaked ‘killing Tony Blair’ costume, carrying the former PM’s severed head in one hand and a knife in the other. Not exactly what you expect from a woman campaigning for the rights for others to have unfettered access to their children. One wonders why Social Services didn’t get involved and remove their child given the behaviour the parents exhibit. Hardly a picture of mental stability!
It would however appear after the General Election the Government attempted to make good on some of the pre-election promises, putting in place a number of reviews into family law reform and reform of the family courts.
Fathers4justice were invited to contribute to these inquiries and make the case for shared parenting and their other areas of concern. It would also appear, that just as they were about to make a real difference to the family law landscape, the O’Connors had a tantrum, and walked away from the process, meaning the Bill which the Government introduced was written ‘without the benefit of their views’. The group then condemned the Bill they were invited to shape, yet boycotted!
It was as if they didn’t really want to deliver their agenda, lose their raison d’etre – and presumably the income from their 36,000 members – which the group’s website says is £30 a year. That’s an income of £1.4m a year. Yet curiously the group’s accounts show they only have £700 in the bank and an income of £24,000 a year. Are they being dishonest about their membership numbers, or in their accounting?
However, at the point the group turned its back on the Children and Families Bill, their local MP, the unfortunate Caroline Nokes stepped in, and offered to help by tabling amendments for the group. She even got herself on to the committee responsible for the Bill, and five times publicly asked for the group to give her the amendments she needed, even mentioned the groups agenda and asked them to ‘help me deliver it’.
Bizarrely, instead of welcoming her support, the O’Connors turned on the hapless MP, demanded she resign, and accused her of betraying their ‘36,000 members’. Worse, they then declared ‘war’ on her, and a local Tory activist Adrian Yalland, who was stupid enough to put his head above the parapet and tell the O’Connors they were talking rubbish. More about him later.
What follows surely has to be illegal under the 2003 Communications Act? A year long campaign of abuse, intimidation and harassment of Nokes, and it would seem Yalland, who in December finally decided to act, and filed a libel action against the O’Connors for some of their more preposterous but damaging allegations. Perhaps realising their mistake, the group decided it had to cover its tracks and re-invent history. Thankfully, the internet and Twitter is able to confirm their version of events is a fantasy.
The tweets and articles made a huge number of allegations against both the MP and against Yalland, which it would seem are either baseless or just based on hearsay.
The allegations: Dodgy business practices, sexual impropriety, corruption, child abuse and collusion with the police. The intimidation; veiled death threats, attempts to blackmail, stalking and hints at firebombing the MPs house, running her over and shooting her - all alleged to have been made over Twitter and via the O’Connors blogs. Even the local newspaper said the O’Connors were conducting a Witch Hunt against Nokes, whose only crime appears to be offering to help. Twitter eventually closed two of the couple’s three accounts down after the MP complained and the O’Connors repeatedly ignored Twitter's warnings.
What is clear, is that Nokes, whether out of conviction or fear of the reprisals, seems to have stuck to her word. She asked the group to give her the amendments they wanted making, and has still spoken up in favour of the fathers4Justice agenda whilst they seek to assassinate her career! Apparently, the latest avenue for the O'Connors to attack her is that she is refusing to sign a meaningless Early Day Motion on the subject – but this is probably because the EDM praises a group which is still at war with her! Can’t say I blame her. Oddly, none of the EDM’s signatories actually bothered to speak in the recent Parliamentary debate on shared parenting, yet Nokes did – and was called a hypocrite by the O’Connors for doing so. It's like some weird alternative universe where the people you'd want to support actually become your enemies. What planet are the O'Connors from that they think they are going to get MPs to do what they want by abusing them? Of course, the world where their new Parliamentary champion is no one other than George Galloway!
Anyway, anyone who know how politics works knows an EDM is a pointless exercise which is lucky to warrant a debate. The O’Connors would be hard-pressed to point to any EDM which has lead to a change in the law. And they have hitched their horse to the wrong wagon with Galloway!
Meanwhile, the O’Connors are subject to a libel action from Yalland, who claimed on another blog he was attacked by Matt O’Connor and his landlord whilst delivering legal papers relating to the case. In increasingly (and probably overblown) statements from the O’Connors, Yalland is now accused of breaking into the family home in an attempt to attack Mrs O’Connor physically. Yet the video of the incident which the O’Connors released clearly shows Yalland outside the house, trying to take a picture of it (which is perfectly legal) and repeatedy walking away. The video also shows Yalland having his phone grabbed by O’Connor, who then starts rolling around on the floor as if he had just been floored by Mike Tyson, not a chubby man in his 40’s who is off work after having a heart attack in December!
The incident happened six weeks ago, and Yalland still hasn't been charged. If there was evidence to support the O'Connor's claims, why haven't the police charged him yet. I am told that the police have already dismissed one of the O'Connor's allegations - that Yalland was harassing them. Probably because they know he was being harassed by the O'Connors.
Personally, given Yalland claims the O’Connors have spent the last year lying about him to the general public, you wonder if they are now lying about him to the police, making false allegations about an attack which never happened?
Certainly the ‘bite’ on Matt O’Connor’s finger (which Yalland denies causing) looks self-inflicted with a knife, whereas the bite on the landlord’s arm (which Yalland admits to making) looks suspiciously like it was inflicted by someone who was at the time of the bite being strangled from behind – which is in fact what Yalland claims was happening. The video certainly shows Yalland getting off the ground where he claims he was pushed to and punched.
Whatever. The point is dressing up at Batman gets media attention. Making false allegations destroys a career. But what actually have the O’Connors delivered for their £1.4m a year in fees from their 36,000 members? At the time they had a chance to deliver the agenda, they picked a fight with an MP able to help scuppered their own agenda, and have spent the last year bitching and frothing like a couple of lunatics and blaming everyone but themseleves.