Friday, 16 October 2009

Activist sues Ministry of Justice for £100,000

Friday, October 16, 2009, 12:00

A FATHERS' rights campaigner is launching a bid to claim back more than £100,000 he says he lost fighting an eight-year legal battle for access to his daughter.

The Herald revealed in August how Jonathan 'Jolly' Stanesby, 39, had secured joint residence to have equal care of his 10-year-old daughter after a high-profile wrangle with the family courts.

A founding member of the Fathers 4 Justice campaign group, he was jailed last year after camping out on deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman's roof dressed as a superhero.

But now Jolly, from Ivybridge, is taking his fight back into court – to claim back almost a decade's-worth of lost earnings and legal fees.

He described himself as 'emotionally drained' and said the gruelling eight-year process had forced him to give up work and sell land, leaving him crippled by debt.

Now settling into being a dad again, Jolly says he is looking to retrain for a new career and put some cash away for his daughter, and plans to do that by taking the Ministry of Justice to court for more than £100,000.

"A lot of what I've lost is priceless," he said. "The time my daughter missed out on you can't put a price on. Then you've got my loss of wages over four or five years, legal fees and all the phone calls since it began eight years ago.

"It's amazing how it all adds up. I'll never be able to put a figure on it."

Jolly is now submitting an application to Plymouth County Court in the hope of fixing a date for a directions hearing.

He said he would take his new battle as far as it would go.

Jolly admitted his long battle with the family courts, which began in 2001, had left him 'completely destroyed', but even more determined to raise awareness of fathers' rights.

"I've lost everything and now I've got to restart everything I'd done," Jolly said. "I've gone back 10 years in my life.

"I lost my job, they took my driving licence away, my credit rating was destroyed and I went to prison.

"That means I can never work in childcare, which is what I really wanted to do: but at the end of the day, I'm lucky.

"A lot of people don't fight the family courts, and at least now I get to see my daughter.

"All the time she's missed out on seeing me and all the things she's missed out on doing you can't put a price on. I used to keep animals and we'd go camping and all the things she'd love to experience.

"When you spend eight years going through this, you have to think about where the money's coming from to feed yourself.

"I've got to retrain, but it's not easy because I'm not a teenager any more," he said. "I've looked at going to university but it's very tough with the cost."

Jolly said a fellow-Fathers 4 Justice campaigner had spent £250,000 on legal fees during his own custody battle.

"Most people who go through the family courts are so exhausted they just want an end to it and to cut their losses," he added, "but the way I feel is, I've got a 10-year-old daughter with her whole life ahead of her and it's only fair I try and give something back to her. That's the reason I'm doing this."