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Family above all else August 23, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This is beyond tragic, the account from some while back of the murder of six year old Ellie Gray. But something that comes through loud and clear is how the family (as a concept) was put ahead of testimony from state and non state services that Ellie Gray was at serious risk, had indeed been harmed in the past. It wasn’t just the judge, it’s telling how there were media campaigns led by Max Clifford and others. As the Guardian notes:

…in the end Butler managed to deceive one of the most senior courts in the land and won sympathy from the press. After a ruling by Hogg, Butler was reunited with Ellie in November 2012..

This narrative of family above all else

Of course state services fail – we need only see the abysmal record of care for the disabled or elderly in this state. And that, naturally, requires the highest levels of scrutiny and oversight. But when a compliant media (the Sun and the Daily Mail in this instance) push what is a specific ideological agenda, one that pretends that families are ‘natural’ and safe havens compared to an intrusive and nannying state… that’s a problem.

Moreover, and as a particularly ironic and vicious twist in this instance the push was to remove Ellie Gray from the care of her grandparents whose struggle to keep her safe ended in failure, through no fault of their own. There’s other aspects too that impinge on this. The grandparents despite being supported by the Council and social services as appropriate foster parents were not listened to by the Court and, and this is also telling:

They spent their £70,000 life savings on fighting to keep Ellie, but when their money ran out at a critical point in the proceedings they were not represented. Butler won custody of his daughter in November 2012.

Of course there are no absolutes in this, though one might assume that a parent with a history of violence, extreme violence many might think, would be the last possible option for a child being returned to. Moreover the relationship that had developed was one between the grandparents and the child, the parents had been out of the picture. But this sense that some parts of the media and others present of only one form of “naturalness” is deeply problematic.


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