Bereaved father's plea: Change the law and save a child
A grieving dad whose son was killed in a blaze started by the boy's mother is taking his fight to change the law to Westminster.
Four-year-old Jai Joshi, who lived with dad Paresh Patel in Hutton, died in a flat fire in Liverpool in May 2014, along with his mother Janma Joshi, who deliberately started the blaze with petrol.
Jai had been staying with his mother during the Easter holidays, but she failed to return him to Paresh, who had full custody, despite a court order being in place. Paresh has since been battling to get the law changed, to ensure court orders on custody to be enforced to protect other families from similar tragedies.
Newsagent Paresh, 44, is to meet the Minister of State for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, in London tomorrow, after South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy organised the meeting.
He said: “I’ve been campaigning to get the law changed to make court orders enforceable, as I found out through the death of my son they are not necessarily enforceable.
“What I want is to have all court orders that are written, particularly for children from the family court, to have enforcement included as standard, so if police or social services go down and they are refusing to hand them back, they would have the authority to remove them and give them back to the person who has full custody.
“At the moment a standard court order doesn’t have an enforcement paragraph in it, so in effect you would need to go back to court to get your child back.
“I can’t understand the logic in that.”
Paresh has already launched a petition for his campaign. He said: “This isn’t about Jai now. “This is about protecting other children and saving time and money for everybody, because the cost of going back to court just to get your own child back seems ridiculous to me.
“If you fall out with your ex-partner, you’ve got to hire a solicitor and go back to court.
“It’s about other children. Obviously I can’t get Jai back, but this is why I’ve been campaigning for it, to try to help the organisations that are designed to protect children do their jobs properly.
“All I’m thinking is this would just assist the authorities to do the job more effectively, without having to go through more red tape which is unnecessary.
“All I can do is go and put the case forward, and it’s up to the minister to look into it.”
South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy said: “Since Mr Patel contacted me in September 2015, I have been working hard on his behalf and I am pleased that I have been able to facilitate a meeting with Edward Timpson MP, the Minister of State for Children and Families.
“I hope that raising awareness of Mr Patel’s case will ensure that lessons are learned and that another tragedy like this does not occur again.”