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Jun 20

Judge finds father in contempt of court again

Canterbury Civil Court heard the case of contempt of court against Eugene Lukjanenko

Canterbury Civil Court heard the case of contempt of court against Eugene Lukjanenko

A father in dispute with Medway Council narrowly escaped jail for contempt of court in Canterbury County Court last week for the second time in six months.

Eugene Lukjanenko was charged with five breaches of an order made on 30th September 2015. The Order prohibited him from naming employees or ex-employees of the Council online.

To his credit, said Judge Richard Scarratt, he freely admitted the breaches. But His Honour rejected Mr Lukjanenko’s argument that his conduct was reasonable. Judge Scarratt sentenced him to 56 days in prison, suspended for a year.

The judge said: ‘The local authority may feel that is soft’. Nevertheless, His Honour had taken into account that if he imposed an immediate custodial term, Mr Lukjanenko ‘will be a martyr to his cause, a cause which in my judgment has no substance whatever’.

Previous contempt of court sentence ‘stemmed the flow’

In January, the same judge imposed the same sentence on the same defendant for naming his son online in breach of a High Court Reporting Restrictions Order. But yesterday, he said that had ‘stemmed the flow’ of the prohibited information. He said he hoped the same would happen this time.

His Honour Judge Richard Scarratt

His Honour Judge Richard Scarratt

The Order, made in the family court, forbad Eugene Lukjanenko from displaying the Names, Contact Details or photographs of any Medway Council employee any where.

How such an obvious infringement of his Article 10 right to Freedom of Expression came to be made was never explained at the hearing. The judge was solely concerned with Medway’s heavy-handed application to commit Mr Lukjanenko to prison.

Moreover, we are going to commend Judge Scarratt for his patience. He was dealing with an understandably upset father. The father’s first language is Russian. He continually wanted to raise what he sees as previous unjust treatment in the family courts and by Medway.  He may have a point.  There is little evidence the Council tried to keep this family together. And that is what we all think social workers should be doing, except in the most extreme cases of abuse or neglect.

Did he breach the Order?

The Crown Prosecution Service looked at the case under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and decided there was no case. That should raise a question about double jeopardy. In a convoluted bit of reasoning, barrister Edward Elliott, appearing for the Council, submitted that the CPS only considered one aspect of the case. Moreover, since they took no action, there was no double jeopardy in any case. This court could try the case, a point which Judge Scarratt was happy to accept.

Mr Elliott said: ‘This is not the criminal court’. So it was not about whether the conduct actually amounted to harassment. All the mattered was ‘did he breach the order?’

And of that there was little doubt. Mr Lukjanenko put the names of three social workers with their contact details (where those were in the pubic domain) on his Facebook timeline quite a while ago.

No compromise

The defendant before a similar case in January. Face obscured

The defendant before a similar case in January. Face obscured

The court heard that over the lunch break Mr Lukjanenko discussed the possibility of a compromise with Medway. This fell down when the Council refused to increase contact with his son. Nor would they bring forward a meeting scheduled for September to reconsider the frequency of contact.  That seems mean-minded.

But the judge said the two issues, contact and the breaches of the order, could not be linked. Judge Scarratt actually heard the case in the family court. But this was not now the family court, he said. This was a civil court hearing for contempt of court in public.

However, in an extraordinary development, the court heard that Mr Lukjanenko produced a letter in the interval.

In the letter, signed by his son, the son said he wanted to come home. Mr Lukjanenko drafted it and gave it to his son to read and sign in his last meeting at the local authority contact centre. Although these were not family court proceedings, the judge was aghast. ‘Was not the contact supervised? How did that happen?’ he demanded.

Contact centres are intended to be heavily policed by social workers. Parents are not even supposed to tell their children they love them or that they are fighting to get them home. They may certainly not pass pieces of paper to them.

Reporting Restrictions

At the end of the hearing, this author drew Judge Scarratt’s attention to a Reporting Restrictions Order in the family court which forbids the media from naming the father or the son in any report on the case. However, ours is not a jurisdiction that quietly locks people up. If someone faces prison, the hearing must be advertised and the person named. Court Practice Direction, CCR (County Court Rules) 29 on Committal Applications applies. Rule 29.9 says:

9. A committal application should normally be heard in public (see CPR rule 39.2), but if it is heard in private and the court finds the respondent guilty of contempt of court, the judge shall, when next sitting in public, state –
(1) the name of the respondent;
(2) in general terms the nature of the contempt or contempts found proved; and
(3) the penalty (if any) imposed.

Edward Elliott is involved in another contempt of court case brought by Medway Council

Edward Elliott is involved in another contempt of court case brought by Medway Council

Judge Scarratt had to comply with the end of rule 29.9 as he was already sitting in open court. His Honour accordingly ruled we could identify the father by his full name. We are actually reluctant to do so, but the interests of justice require it. The onus is on a local authority pursuing a parent to prison to be aware they are enabling the identification of parents. They normally strive very hard to avoid that. We can only hope this does not lead to identification of the child in the case.

Medway Council pursuing another parent

Eugene Lukjanenko is not the only parent Medway Council are pursuing. We understand they are after a mother, who at the moment we shall refer to as SR. SR has published details about her case on social media. She sees a miscarriage of justice towards her and her children who are now, as we understand it, of majority age anyway.

Curiously, Edward Elliott, Medway’s barrister, boasts on his chambers page about his involvement in committal proceedings against SR for contempt of court. The mother’s case will be heard in July and we shall be there, God willing, to report on the case.

Previous posts:

Family Court Restrictions: father ‘in contempt’

Father fighting Medway Council faces jail for contempt

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  1. Rox

    Freedom of expression is the freedom to express your views on something. It isn’t the same thing as freedom to give out information about somebody else.

    P. C. Dixon pointed out that some of the policemen whose job was to battle with anti-nuclear demonstrators actually agreed with them. So I think he would have agreed that employees of a council should not be placed in a position of being penalised (presumably with unwanted approaches from the public) just because they were doing their job for the council.

    1. Stephen

      All the contact details he gave out was in the public domain. And yes, if public officials are seen by someone as being in the wrong, that person has the right to say so.

      1. Rox

        Even if their names and addresses are in the telephone directory, that isn’t the same thing as saying “These are the people who wronged me. So (in effect) tell them what you think about it.”

        It depends very much if they are individually doing something wrong (like taking bribes), or if they are merely carrying out the legal instructions of a legal body whom the complainant disagrees with.

        In the modern German army, the soldiers are made well aware that they must not carry out any order which is illegal. I don’t suppose there was any question of these council employees doing that. Or if there was, it would need to be decided by a court, and they would be innocent until proved guilty. Even then, much of the blame would have to be on the council (depending on the details, of course). It’s all too easy to say “the council”, but on people at an appropriate high level anyway.

  2. Rox

    Let’s hope our tame journalist is not in prison again. He seems to have been partly silenced on the day he was reporting a case (22nd June).

  3. Bedson

    I seem to recall reading somewhere something along the lines of “what’s spoken in darkness should be proclaimed in daylight” and “what’s whispered in your should be shouted from the rooftops”

    I think its the duty of all righteous people to make known publicly what is grossly wrong otherwise we are protecting the evil actions of others by our silence. What the government through their agents (local authority) are doing to thousands of children and parents is EVIL and we must all speak out. Eugene is a righteous man, no matter what threats he is subjected he is not afraid to expose major corruption which is harming his and other peoples children, that is because he has the fire of the spirit in him.

    As for people who think social workers and council employees should remain hidden under a vail of secrecy, well if the social workers and council employees are acting righteously and not doing anything dishonest then they would be proud to be named and held fully and publicly accountable for their actions.

    1. Rox

      If I thought I was “acting righteously” as part of my job, I certainly wouldn’t want to be “named and shamed” as Eugene puts it.

      A rather similar case is scientists who do experiments involving animals, as they believe in the public interest. Of course they don’t want to be “named and shamed”, and they deserve the law to protect them against people with different views (who can seriously disrupt their private lives at home with their families).

      I am in no position to judge between Eugene and the social workers, so I will make no attempt to do so. I do not have all the evidence, and I do not have the expertise to understand the case nor to ascertain what is probably best for the boy, which is the point of the exercise, no matter how aggrieved Eugene may feel, understandably. Like other free democratic countries, we have courts to make these difficult decisions, with lawyers available to represent both sides. That’s the way it works, not trial by media.

      I do hope that they will eventually come up with an arrangement which is satisfactory both for Eugene and his son, as far as possible. But it is difficult to believe that the boy is actually being “terrorised”, and this sort of accusation isn’t going to help anybody .

      1. Stephen

        Rox, the Fourth Estate exists to hold those in power to account, be they politicians, social workers, advocates or judges.

        1. Rox

          Or journalists and media organisations.

          But it might be that Eugene’s son is finding his Dad a bit embarrassing, and at his age this is normally taken into account. Also, policemen and social workers and judges are not really “in power” insofar as they are just operating the Law of the country. Of course, in some cases they are using their discretion wrongly. But
          “naming and shaming people who terrorise my son” ?
          Is there evidence of child abuse in some institution ?

          I admit I haven’t got any evidence, but my guess would be that this is going to far, or not far enough.

          1. Eugene

            I really would appreciate if i do not hear voices of SW or their apologists here. What embarrassment? you seem not understand that my son is being kept in “care” for nothing! for nothing!

            He is in prison, and getting brainwashed everyday! Am I supposed as a goos parent just shut up and say nothing because judge decided that? It is MY right and MY responsibility and I will go to jail for my freedom of speech , for the right to be with my son, for my religion and ;language!

            If Medway feels information i giv e about them not correct, why not to go to court for diffamation, why7 just try to shut me up?

            If freedom of speech will be suffocated in combination with BREXIT it will give all clear potential for some quasi Communist regime. where authorities could not be critisised..

  4. Eugene

    How possible to live in a free, democratic country and get prison sentence for critisism of public servants?? Are we in a UK or North korea?? how far will this cover up will continue? First, was charged with negletc, but no charges supported and got apologies from CPS. Then was diagnosed with “inherited Holocaust trauma” – insulting “diagnose”,but no doctor found anything wrong with me

    My son begs to come home and see his dad – same crule judge Scarratt REFUSED contact on basis

  5. Eugene

    We live in a free, democratic country, all I done was producing documents from public domain which shoewed conflict of interests of officials who was named in a previous article

    We are not in NORTH korea, we are in a UK and children sevices cannot be immune from critisism.

    First i was accused in neglect, but CPS apologised to me no evidence , police even did not at5tend trial.
    Second, was accused of “inherited Holocaust trauima” because my dad wasin ghetto – coward “diagnose” , but no doctor found anything wrong with me.

    Why my son is in care??? very naive to expect i will stop naming and shaming people who terrorise my son. In a due course they will be named again

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