Five Mothers on Hunger Strike in Holloway Prison, London – Protesting against Violation of Article 8: the Right to Family Life
Association of McKenzie Friends
assisting Litigants in Person
with Lay Legal Advice
28 October 2012
Five Mothers on Hunger Strike in HMP Holloway
Melissa Laird is an American who started a hunger strike after having been refused bail by a UK immigration lawyer. She has not seen her now 5-year-old son for ten months and is seriously hampered from advancing her case inside prison. She has been joined by four other women, one of whom is Russian, who also protest against the separation from their children.
Melissa gave birth to her boy in August 2007, thanks to a test tube. In August 2011 she moved to Spain. There she had a job and acquired a house, when her son caught pneumonia and she took him to a hospital near Alicante. Strangely enough, Spanish Police arrested her, claiming that she is somebody else, on 13th December 2011.
Having been talked into signing an extradition document, she was flown to HMP Holloway, while Barnet Social Services took ‘care’ of her son. She was dragged not only through the family but also the criminal court and advised to plead guilty of ‘abducting a child’. Her 6 months sentence finished on 30th June, since when she is being held on ‘immigration issues’.
Two McKenzie Friends were at the hearing when bail was refused because the judge could not “go behind the judgement” and due to “the welfare the child”. She began to think about hunger strike even though she was advised that nobody would take any notice.
McKenzie Friends visited her on Saturday 28th October which was her 16th day of taking neither food nor drink. They asked the Visitors Centre to alert the Health Service and were invited to inform Safer Custody and the Family Rights Group.
Having worked as a legal secretary before, Ms Laird has complained to many officials about the violation of Article 8: the right to family life. Other McKenzie Friends have often pointed out that even Baby P’s mother had the right to see her child while in prison. There are many unanswered questions in this drama. But nobody answers the most important ones: how does the boy feel without his mother? Why has nobody ensured that they could see each other?
In the wake of the Savile scandal, it is hoped that investigations will include the institutionalised supply of children to foster parents and homes who also hand them to paedophiles.
For further information: please contact Sabine McNeill on 07968 039 141
Chairperson: Belinda McKenzie
Web Publisher: Sabine K McNeill; Treasurer: Peter Bellett