Exposing the right angle on Angela Eagle

A truth can walk naked… but a lie always needs to be dressed  – Kahlil Gibran


 Eagle’s Background

Angela Eagle, 55, has been the Member of Parliament for Wallasey since the 1992 General Election. She was born in Bridlington and studied PPE at Oxford University, before working for the CBI and the trade union COHSE.

She served as the Minister of State for Pensions from June 2009 until May 2010. She was elected to the Shadow Cabinet in October 2010 and was appointed by Ed Miliband to be Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

In October 2011, she was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons when Miliband reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet. She was appointed as both Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in September 2015 in Jeremy Corbyn’s first Shadow Cabinet. She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in June 2016.

As I reported in January, Angela Eagle is supported by the right wing Progress group.

Progress is the Blairite power behind the core group of MPs who sought a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn two weeks ago.

Progress runs on £260,000-a-year funding from Lord Sainsbury.

Read more about this shadowy cabal in Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant.

Eagle’s Selection as Parliamentary Candidate

Wallasey is now a solidly Labour-voting constituency, and Angela Eagle, who enjoyed a 16,348 majority in last year’s General Election, has been its MP since 1992.

Before that, by contrast, Wallasey had historically been a Conservative seat. It was represented by Tory MP Ernest Marples from 1945 to 1974, and then by his successor Lynda Chalker from 1974 to 1992.

In 1987, though, Chalker only narrowly held on to the seat, with her majority reduced from 6,708 to 279, in the face of a vigorous campaign by the local Labour party in support of its candidate Lol Duffy.

Duffy would very likely have won, had it not been for the intervention of Frank Field, the right wing Labour MP for the neighbouring Birkenhead constituency.

Field circulated a letter attacking Duffy, who at the time was associated with the Socialist Organiser group. He declared that he would not be supporting Duffy’s candidacy and would refuse to appear on any platform with him. The letter was published on the front page of a local newspaper, during the election campaign, under the headline Marxist Lol slammed by Frank Field.

No action was taken by the Labour Party against Frank Field over this political scabbing that ensured a Tory victory in Wallasey. Instead, in response to his denunciations of the role of Socialist Organiser activists in Wirral Labour Party, the Labour national executive committee (NEC) launched an investigation into the group. A report by the party’s director of organisation, Joyce Gould, led to the proscription of Socialist Organiser in 1990.

One result of the move against Socialist Organiser was to delay the parliamentary selection in Wallasey.

The Wallasey Labour party officers pressed for a prompt start to the selection procedure. After all, this was now a highly winnable seat and it made sense to have a candidate like Lol Duffy in place as early as possible. But the national Labour Party and the regional office prevaricated.

In December 1991 the regional office was forced at last to agree a selection timetable with the constituency officers.

Duffy received over 70% of the nominations including the support of five of the six local party branches, the women’s section and numerous trade unions.

His 24 nominations far exceeded the tally of five achieved by his nearest rival, Angela Eagle.

But in January 1992, in a move which now stinks of a rancid coup, the NEC decided that the imminence of a General Election demanded the intervention of an emergency ‘by-election panel’ to interview potential candidates and shortlist contenders in those constituencies without a Labour candidate already in place.

During the panel’s interviewing of Wallasey candidates, Roy Hattersley asked Lol Duffy how he would reconcile his personal beliefs – notably his support for unilateralism and repeal of all anti-union laws – with the party’s current policy. Duffy made it clear that he would have no problem with this. But Hattersley’s NEC panel then excluded Duffy from the Wallasey shortlist.

Under the rules of the Labour Party, if more than 50% of those who vote in a parliamentary selection return blank ballot papers the selection must start from scratch with new nominations.

Contrary to party rules, no independent scrutineer was allowed into the Wallasey count held at the regional office in Warrington. When pressed, Eileen Murfin (Labour Party regional organiser) admitted that the officials had not bothered to count the blank votes, again in contravention of the rules.

But sources leaked the total to the media, which reported that 163 blank papers had been returned by local members in protest at the exclusion of Lol Duffy. Only 57 votes had been cast for the ‘winning’ candidate, Angela Eagle. Under the party constitution the selection was null and void; but party officials glossed over this detail.

To add insult to injury, the NEC not only dismissed the complaints of party members but threatened to mount yet another ‘investigation’ of the constituency after the General Election.

Lol Duffy worked diligently for Angela Eagle during the General Election. And thanks to the years of hard work put in by himself and others in the constituency, the seat was taken from the Tories, and Eagle became the first Labour MP for Wallasey.

Given this record, it is hardly surprising that Angela Eagle has shown such contempt for the democratic decision made by party members last September, when they elected Jeremy Corbyn as leader with 59.5% of first-preference votes, and has joined his enemies in the parliamentary Labour party in a disgraceful attempt to overturn that decision.

She is firmly embedded in, and indeed owes her parliamentary career to, a political culture that accepts party democracy only when it produces the ‘right’ results.

Eagle’s Voting Record

Angela Eagle’s voting record since becoming a Labour MP makes very interesting reading. Most readers will be aware that she was one of the 66 Labour MPs, who last December, voted for bombing Syria, but thanks to the parliamentary website They Work For You her broader voting on key issues bares closer scrutiny.

Ms Eagle has:

  • Generally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
  • Consistently voted FOR the Iraq war
  • Consistently voted AGAINST an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
  • Almost always voted for strengthening the Military Covenant
  • Almost always voted against local councils keeping money raised from taxes on business premises in their areas
  • Almost always voted for introducing ID cards
  • Generally voted against a statutory register of lobbyists

Eagle’s Leadership Campaign

Ms Eagle only launched her leadership campaign a few days ago, but it is already marred by murky accusations, duplicity and crocodile tears.

She resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet on 27 June in the wake of the Euro Referendum result and the sacking of Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Her letter of resignation as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, included these sentences:

“I was devastated by the result of the EU referendum. Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and I believe this happened, in part, because under your leadership the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalence rather than full-throated clarity.

“In such turbulent times, we need a Leader who can unite rather than divide the Labour Party. We need a Leader who can heal the deep divisions in our country, stand up for our communities, and ultimately to keep our United Kingdom together.”

But while heaping the blame for Brexit on Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Eagle failed to admit that just two weeks earlier she publicly said of Mr Corbyn campaigning for Remain:

“Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired, he has not stopped.”

But that was only the beginning.

Within days of her resignation, it was revealed that Ms Eagle’s leadership campaign website Angela4Leader was registered at 6pm on Saturday 25 June, hours before Hilary Benn was sacked and two whole days before she resigned.

The website was registered by Joe McCrea, a PR executive who served as a special adviser in Downing Street during Tony Blair’s tenure.

And there was more to come.

Earlier this week a window at the Wallasey Labour Party constituency office was smashed with a brick.

Ms Eagle was quick to blame the vandalism on supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that it was “bullying” against her that had “no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”.

The hypocrisy of this outburst beggars belief, as there was no evidence of any kind that supporters of Mr Corbyn had actioned this vandalism. Indeed there has been suggestions that it may have been broken by supporters of Ms Eagle to frighten members of her own CLP who had called for her resignation.

One Labour Party member Mike Sivier wrote a hard-hitting open letter to Ms Eagle on the back of her claims. Part of that letter says: “As a Labour voter of many years’ standing, and a member of the party for the last six, I am writing to express my outrage at your comments following the vandalism of the Wallasey Party office.

“We can agree that the damage to the window – like any crime – is unacceptable. However: How dare you claim that it was carried out by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, “in his name”? Do you have any evidence? Do the police already know who did it? I think not.

“Mr Corbyn has made it abundantly clear – many times over the past few weeks, that he finds such behaviour abhorrent and wants members of the party to discuss their differences in a cordial manner.

“How dare you try to pontificate to the rest of the party about “bullying”, after the behaviour you have forced Mr Corbyn to endure, together with the other 170+ PLP rebels?

“Look at the behaviour that has occurred in YOUR name:

  • Months of secret plotting against Mr Corbyn after he won the Labour leadership last year.
  • The intention to mislead the public into thinking the Labour ‘coup’ was prompted by Mr Corbyn’s performance in the EU referendum when it had been pre-planned over many months.
  • The co-ordinated, on-the-hour resignations of shadow cabinet members throughout June 26 in an effort to BULLY Mr Corbyn out of the Labour leadership.
  • The hasty and unconstitutional calling and passing of a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Corbyn in another attempt to BULLY him out of office.
  • The attempted BULLYING of Mr Corbyn himself at a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting.
  • The fabricated smear stories intended to undermine Mr Corbyn’s support among members and, again, BULLY him into resigning – including your claim about this broken office window.

“If you are serious in your claim that bullying “has absolutely no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”, then perhaps the best way to start would be by ending your own challenge to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, submitting yourself to the mercy of your constituents who are holding a ‘no confidence’ vote on your conduct later this month, and considering your own future in politics.”

Then yesterday the latest instalment of dirty tricks was opened amid claims that Ms Eagle (an open Lesbian) has been subjected to “homophobic slurs” from members of the Wallasey CLP.

But she did not count on local activist and fellow lesbian Emma Runswick who immediately hit back with another open letter exposing the duplicity of the Eagle campaign.

Part of Ms Runswick’s letter says: “I am a queer woman. My mother Kathy is the Chair of Wallasey constituency Labour party, and a Momentum supporter. An attempt has been made to paint Wallasey CLP and Momentum supporters as homophobic and violent, so I’d like to share some personal stories of my family.

“The allegations started when Baroness Tessa Jowell, a Labour peer, said on Daily Politics about the Wallasey CLP AGM: “I spoke to Angela about that meeting, she faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”.

“But Angela Eagle wasn’t at the meeting, and nor was any complaint of homophobia raised in her absence. Since then, accusations have been made, but I struggle to comprehend the abusive language alleged going unchallenged.

“I came out to my family aged 13. Throughout the abuse and ignorance from others, my parents were behind me. When my school banned me and my girlfriend from each other’s form rooms in response to a parent complaint, and I couldn’t face the fight, I had to stop them going in all guns blazing in my defence.

“When I wanted to support a transgender student, they helped me navigate the bullying report system, and held me when I cried in frustration.

“As trade union reps, my parents explained all the legislation, we talked about the Equality Act and the protection it gave me and other LGBTQ people. 

“There is zero tolerance of homophobia in Wallasey CLP. My mother would come down on it like a tonne of bricks. My dad, a branch delegate, would do the same.

“Kathy Miller, the Secretary and proud mother of a gay man, would do the same. Other Wallasey CLP members are LGBTQ themselves and would do the same.

“I don’t believe anybody in Wallasey CLP, Corbyn supporters or otherwise, would allow homophobic abuse or gesture to go unchallenged in any meeting.”

Now Ms Eagle is facing a no confidence vote from own Constituency Labour Party.

But even now, more dirty tricks are at work as Labour’s NEC yesterday announced that ALL Labour Party constituency and branch meetings have been suspended until the completion of the leadership election in September.

Time and the party members will wait for you Ms Eagle.

As Kahlil Gibran once wrote: “A truth can walk naked… but a lie always needs to be dressed.”



THIS is the third instalment of my Back From the Edge quartet and is entitled: Denial.

A Fight for Justice
“We can and do frequently fall out of love with our partners. It is a pain that is impossible to explain when we feel betrayed by someone we once loved, and entirely natural that we feel the desire for revenge. Children, however, only fall out with their best friends but never Mummy, Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa.”
“I cry silently for these children who, through no fault of their own, are forced to grieve unnecessarily.”

I AM many things, have many flaws and made many mistakes in my life. I have paid for them all. I have not always been the best partner and have at times been wayward – for which I am truly sorry – but I have always been a good father.
As a human being I am sometimes quirky and find it hard to tolerate fools, but above all, I am gentle, kind, caring and honest… qualities which those who know me well can confirm.
So what follows has taken many years to get my head around and many months of stalling to begin its telling.
I guess it all began when my second life partner – and the mother of my two middle girls – and I separated in the summer of 1999. We had been together for eight years and despite an at times tempestuous relationship we raised our two daughters with mutual care and love. We also parted amicably.
At the time of the break-up, I was working away in Aberdeen in the North East of Scotland. My ex-partner stayed living with our girls in our family home near Edinburgh. She found another man – a road engineer – very quickly, but that did not play on our emotions too much. We parted on an understanding that I would always have free and equal access to my daughters, Rhia and Shannon. Indeed, my ex said openly: “Don’t worry you will always be able to see the girls. You are their daddy.”
Within a few months she relocated with our girls to a farmstead in the North West of Scotland. A few months later, I heard she had ditched her road engineer in favour of a wealthy computer tech, who also shared her passion for horses. Her new relationship did not appear to unduly change the joint parenting of our daughters.
Despite a great distance between our two homes (a return trip by car of almost eight hours), I maintained good contact with my daughters and, with a couple of exceptions, had them to stay for every school holiday and half term – logistically quite difficult when I was only able to take 25 days holiday a year from work. These visits were supplemented by additional trips to her locale, where I visited the girls in situ and took them out, plus a Christmas Day drive to deliver presents and spend two valuable hours in their company.
My daughters were always delighted to see me and and enjoyed a loving and caring time with me and my new wife. I never lost my temper with them and never smacked them or hurt them in any way. I was, after all, their daddy and I loved them to bits.
But in the summer of 2002 my ex married her new partner and everything started to change.
He was a self-proclaimed millionaire and showered her with gifts: a new sports car with personalized number plates, a huge bronze bust of a horse for her stable yard and everything else money could buy… a sharp contrast to the frugal life she had had with me.
Her new husband – who I will call X for the sake of this piece – is all things to all people. His personal CV would make even Superman’s eyes water: a successful entrepreneur, a professor and doctor in computer science, a self-professed psychologist, a horse whisperer, a top photographer and an acclaimed web-site designer.
He was everything I wasn’t and I guess my ex had found her man!
But within a couple of months of their marriage, I had word from my eldest son Ben and some mutual friends that they had concerns about changes in the way my daughters were being parented and a new party lifestyle. The concerns were so serious that I drove to North West Scotland and spent two days talking to acquaintances to set my mind at rest.
The following May I remarried and my daughters were bridesmaids at our wedding.
That summer my new wife and I bought a family home in South Tyneside and, due to complications with the conveyancing, I had to delay my daughters’ two week summer stay by nine days. At this juncture I could tell things were decidedly cool with my ex. Her annoyance was obvious, despite my apologies.
But that did not prepare me for what lay ahead.
As explained in my earlier blog posting entitled Regret, in September 2003 I was reunited after 18 years with my eldest daughter T. I naturally informed my ex of my delight at the reunification and told her I looked forward to our daughters meeting their step-sister.
A family gathering was planned for the October half term where T would meet her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and most importantly her older step-brother and two step-sisters. This was going to be the weekend I had dreamed of for almost 19 years… my family all together for the first time. I wrote to Rhia and Shannon to prepare them and enclosed new photographs of their stepsister.
Then came the hammer blow.
In a short telephone call, my ex told me that the girls could not attend the family party as they had ‘other arrangements’. She added a justification that the girls would be ‘emotionally damaged by suddenly meeting a mysterious sister that has materialized out of nowhere”.
Yet my daughters had grown up with pictures of T in the house and always knew of her as their estranged sister. I even received letters from the girls thanking me for the new pictures of T, with Shannon adding: “I hope I can see T when I come up”.
I was crippled by my ex’s attitude and could tell immediately that someone else was orchestrating this move.
But there was more to come.
I challenged her assertion that T was a “mysterious sister”.
She retorted: “If you are really so honest, have you told them where she came from and who her mother was and how old she was?”
This was coming from a woman who had known of my conviction since we first met in 1991 and had often teased me with the words: “Don’t worry, it was just your willy being silly”.
Now she was using my conviction as some first assault weapon.
The next exchange was almost a month later.
On Wednesday 19 November, my wife telephoned my ex to chat about arrangements for the girls to stay at Christmas – a happy routine we had continued for four years. She was given short shrift and was told she was reviewing the Christmas arrangements.
I telephoned the next day to be greeted with a verbal assault over how our daughters were emotionally damaged “every time they stay with you”, adding that “after the last visit I caught Rhia bullying Shannon” and she placed the blame on me.
I told her that in turn Rhia was very unhappy at being being forced to go goose shooting with her husband and then being told to pick up the dead geese.
Soon hackles were raised and the phone call descended to a row, with my ex stating that I was an “unsuitable parent”.
In anger, I retorted that she was “an arrogant piece of dirt”.
I am not proud of my words or my anger, but I guess that is what happens sometimes when former partners disagree.
She slammed the phone down on me.
I redialed and the call was answered by X who bluntly told me not to call again, before hanging up.
I redialed again. This time I asked to speak with my daughters, as was normal. He responded with words that have haunted me ever since: “You will never speak with your daughters again”.
There followed the farce of me redialing again and again with my anger and frustration rising each time to be greeted with a similar response. On the ninth redial, X stated that he would report me to the police for harassment if I called again.
My wife was sat next to me and had witnessed the whole bizarre 20 minutes.
With tears flooding and anger rising, I sat and wondered what to do next.
What I did next was ill-conceived and something I regret.
I exacerbated matters and wrote a powerful personal letter to my ex raising a number of concerns I had over her morality and the welfare of my daughters in her household. It contained issues I had left bubbling since my trip to North West Scotland some 16 months earlier. It was spiteful and aimed to hurt.
I had marked the letter private and personal. In hindsight, it was clear that her husband had read the letter and I had stupidly upped the ante.
My ex wasted no time in cancelling my daughters’ Christmas visit. On 20 December I received a letter from her solicitor stating that if I attempted to contact her or my daughters directly again, they would seek a Court Interdict (Injunction) against me. The cost of contesting an interdict usually runs to at least £4,000. Breach of any interdict is a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment.
I was left in no-man’s land… I could not afford to contest the threatened interdict.
So the New Year of 2004 dawned and a six month legal battle began.
I instructed a solicitor to act for me, primarily to address the threat of an interdict, but also to establish legal access to my daughters.
A ream of solicitors’ letters still sit in a file and bare testimony to what was to come.
My lawyer offered mediation and even supervised visiting as a way forward. In the early replies from her solicitors, she said there would be no problem with resuming access on certain conditions.
But my ex then moved the goal posts over my rights again and again until it became obvious that she had no intention of allowing me any contact or access.
Initially she maintained that I was mentally ill and had “anger-management problems”… based primarily on the telephone exchange of the previous November.
In one letter her solicitor held out a twisted olive branch in which he said his client would ‘consider’ supervised contact, if I “acknowledged” I had mental health issues to address and a letter from my GP that these were “being addressed”.
In the letter she based this demand on the fact she was “increasingly concerned by the tone and content of emails, letters and telephone calls” from me!
Even 10 years later I still have no idea how this could have impacted on my parenting of my daughters.
The accusations are wholly ironic. For while I suffered short-term clinical depression on a couple of occasions in my life, my ex had a long history of mental illness and irrational outbursts. These included two suicide attempts and her jumping out of a moving car while she was seven months pregnant, with my parents sitting aghast in the back, and even her lying down behind my car while I was reversing it out of a driveway.
She then claimed that my contact with my daughters had only been “sporadic”. This was made despite a 600 mile round trip each time I had seen my girls in the previous four years.
Yet I jumped through all of her legal hoops – even paying for a full medical report which confirmed that I was NOT mentally ill nor had any anger management issues. But she brushed this report aside and demanded a ‘second opinion’. Even 16 letters in my support from friends and family did not sway her resolve to deny me any access to my daughters.
By early March, my solicitor warned me that legal costs in pursuing the case could be prohibitive as he would have to do battle in her local sheriff court some 200 miles from his office.
On 26 April, my solicitor wrote to her solicitor highlighting my ex’s position of “a lack of good faith” in ignoring the earlier offer of mediation and being obstructive and to ask her to make my daughters aware of “the strenuous efforts that their father is making to re-establish contact with them”.
My solicitor told me that in his experience of dealing with family law matters, “she has probably poisoned your daughters against you by now… this usually happens in cases like this”.
A reply letter from her solicitor of 5 May 2004 simply reiterated earlier letters regarding my alleged mental illness and that she had been at the “receiving end of abusive and threatening text and telephone contact” from me.
It went on to say that “another party indicated that similar emails and messages resulted in the Police having to caution Mr Outterside in February 2004.”
To this date I have no idea who the “other party” is. But one thing is sure: I have NEVER received a Police caution in my life!
My solicitor told me that this letter was probably “designed to offend”.
The legal quagmire with its associated crippling costs eventually ceased in June 2004, when without the necessary funding to fight the battle in court, my solicitor advised me: “I have no confidence that Mrs X has any intention of co-operating, and is simply spinning out the process in the hope that her influence over the children will eventually resolve the problem for her”.
So, with the legal battle lost, I began my own campaign for access and contact with my daughters.
In August 2004 – the first anniversary of the last time I had seen the girls – I asked friends and family if they would help me lobby my ex to think again.
I was overcome by the response.
My mother led the crusade with a heartfelt letter in which she wrote: “I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that I may never see the girls again. As you know Rhiannon and Shannon were close to us and as their grandparents we really miss seeing them.” She added that my father’s (the granddad) health was deteriorating rapidly suffering from cancer, a stroke and Parkinson’s Disease.
Other people, including my sisters (the girls’ aunts), two doctors, a police officer, two solicitors and friends who had been denied access rights themselves joined the campaign with a host of letters.
But the missives fell on deaf ears and there was no reply.
A second Christmas with no contact with my darling daughters was upon me and I dutifully posted presents and cards for them both.
My parents received surprise Christmas cards from the girls and brave Shannon managed to smuggle a card to me inside one to her grandparents!
Unsure where to turn to next, in the Spring of 2005 I joined a local branch of The Real Fathers for Justice.
It was eye-opening, liberating and the most useful thing I had done in years.
Not only was I able to share my problems with other parents (both men and women) who had lost contact with their children, but among them were legal experts who helped immensely.
One lawyer told me I was entitled under English and Scots Law to receive school reports and school photos and to attend parents’ evenings (albeit the school was 300 miles away!). She also told me I was entitled to write letters to my daughters, though these may have to be channeled through a solicitor. And finally she advised me to record every letter and photograph every present I sent them, as in many cases mothers ensured children never received parcels from absent parents. This was done to make children believe the absent parent had ‘deserted them’.
Within a week I had written to the girls’ primary school headteacher requesting reports and photographs.
She replied immediately and a month later I received my first school reports and an offer of a telephone chat with their form teacher.
They were excelling at school, and I was both relieved and delighted.
Next I wrote to my ex underlining my legal right to write letters to the girls. She reluctantly agreed, but insisted the letters were sent via her solicitor. I in turn agreed and began writing a newsy letter to each of my daughters once a fortnight.
The letters were full of updates on how I and their young brother were doing and included recent photos. Not once did I mention the ongoing battle for access and kept the letters innocent and happy.
In one letter, I enclosed two £10 postal orders as a well-done for their excellent school reports.
And from June 2005 I also ensured that everything I sent, from CDs and books to an electric guitar and stethoscope were photographed as evidence of my continue campaign for access.
Very soon it was August 2005 and the second anniversary of the last contact with my daughters.
I decided to repeat the letter writing campaign from the previous year, hoping that time had healed the ire of my ex and that she may think again.
This time friends from The Real Father’s For Justice volunteered to write their own letters, explaining from first-hand experience the emotional damage to a child that comes from denial of the society of both parents.
I specified to all the letter writers that they “must not attack my ex or her husband in any way” but simply to appeal to their better natures.
Again all was silent.
Then suddenly on Saturday 22 October the postman delivered a brown paper parcel to my door.
I recognised the postmark and opened the package quickly.
My heart stopped. Inside was every letter I had written to my daughters since July… all unopened. In the package was also a letter from my ex. It was less a letter than a bullying and vitriolic rant. The venom, lies and anger it contained rocked me back.
What had I done to deserve this?
The letter kicked off with: “Rhia and Shannon are doing extremely well since the termination of your unwelcome involvement in their lives, and I believe correspondence of any kind with you is not in their best interests.”
Then turning to the anniversary campaign she added: “I remember you asking me to sign a letter you wrote to Ben’s mum complaining about access and then I receive the same letter from Ruth (my wife at the time), the same old harassment tactic.”
This was a complete fantasy as I had enjoyed more than 10 years unhindered access and contact with my son Ben from my first marriage and NEVER had reason to write to my former wife!
She went on to state: “I would have returned these letters sooner but I like the other downtrodden and abused women on the other side of your F4J crap, have to work all the hours to feed and clothe my children because their father cares more about hurting me than caring for them.”
This part of her letter had me reeling.
But it became even more venomous: “If you only had put the same energy into your visits and child payments as you have into abusing me, abandoning your children and cheating on all of your life partners to date.
“Don’t write to the children again until you have paid all the arrears in full and are prepared to apologise for your threatening behaviour to date. It should be clear, even to a self centred bully that I am not going to be harassed into submission by the F4J letter campaign, nor will I ever back down although still very scared of you. I am no longer your victim or patsy.”
The allegations and insinuations in this final part of her letter took my breath away.
Was she really suggesting that I had abused her?
Abandoned my children?
Cheated on all my life partners to date?
I cheated once in my first marriage, seven years before I met her, and that has been well documented!
What threats had I made?
And why suddenly, after two years, did she raise the spectre of unpaid maintenance for my daughters? Was she moving the goalposts yet again as she had never mentioned maintenance before, after I ceased paying it when she denied me access to my children.
More was to become clear over the next six months.
In January 2006 I sadly began divorce proceedings with my wife Ruth after she had found another man. Although acrimonious at first, we soon adopted a civil and adult approach for the sake of our son, Nathan.
In March 2006, Ruth and I agreed that following a trial weekend stay, Nathan should live with me. We arranged for him to begin living with me 24/7 in the early summer.
Ruth then asked whether I minded if she approached my ex as Nathan had often asked after his sisters.
So in April she telephoned her and explained that we were divorcing each other and could she drive Nathan to Scotland to visit his sisters.
Apparently my ex seemed flummoxed by the unexpected phone call before blurting out: “If Nic had apologised to me he could have seen the girls!”
Were the years of denial of access all to do with her hurt pride?
She asked for some time to think about Ruth’s request.
But she never phoned back.
Another year passed as I settled in my new home in North Wales.
Then in August 2007 I received a surprise letter from the deputy head of my daughter’s new high school.
His letter politely informed me that my ex had lobbied him for me to stop sending cards and gifts to my daughters via the school – something which had been common practice for two years until that point.
He added: “Mrs X has informed me that a procedure has been agreed that gifts and cards should be sent through a solicitor. I would ask that you act through the appointed solicitor in future.”
He was, of course, unaware that my ex had already put a stop to this in October 2005!
The school’s letter was followed up by another dose of hatred from my ex at Christmastime.
Without boring readers with most of its raging content, it reiterated that: “My solicitor wrote to you a number of years back explaining that all correspondence and gifts were to be routed to their office.”
She added: “I have also asked the solicitors to write in the New Year to the school to rebut your ridiculous claims, which I believe are born out of your extreme jealousy, ongoing mental health problems and uncontrollable paranoia… I did find it mildly amusing with your UNSPENT criminal record that you are spouting your fatherly rights chapter and verse.”
Was she really unaware that my conviction was fully spent in 1991? And why raise it at all unless out of spite?
This time I ignored my ex’s hyperbole and venom and wrote immediately to her solicitors, with accompanying presents for my daughters, offering to pay maintenance arrears in return for contact/access with the girls.
I was taken aback when I received a reply from the firm explaining that my ex’s solicitor had left them almost a year earlier and that they “no longer undertake civil work”.
I wrote to my ex to explain this, but never received a reply.
In fact, 2007 was a year of no replies.
In early 2008 my father’s health was failing fast. He was confined to a nursing home and bed bound.
My mother again wrote to my ex asking if she would consider letting the girls visit their grandfather one last time. She stated clearly that I would not be anywhere near the nursing home
Mum’s earlier letters had been politely returned by the former solicitor stating that his “client refused to give him instructions”.
She hoped a direct approach might this time have some effect.
My ex did not even have to courtesy or humanity to reply.
When my dad finally died on 30 October 2008, my eldest son Ben telephoned my ex’s house to tell the sad news. The phone was answered by her husband, who simply said: “Ah, he’s gone at last, I will pass the news on.”
When my son told me of the response my grief battled hard with anger that someone could be so heartless.
So there followed another two years of Christmas and birthday cards and following the girl’s progress through school reports and occasional phone calls from mutual friends who lived nearby.
Seven years had passed since I had last seen my daughters and both were now mature teenagers.
Then in May 2010 I was informed that something had happened which meant I would not see them again.
Now almost four years later I still cry tears for the daughters that were denied me.