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  • Parents' perjury ignored, says judge
  • By Annabel Crabb - Political Correspondent Canberra
  • The Age
  • 11/10/2003 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 75 articles in 2003 )
Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson has accused bureaucrats of failing to act against those who lie in court during custody disputes.

Justice Nicholson, giving evidence in Canberra yesterday to Parliament's enquiry into joint custody, said he believed people sometimes perjured themselves in his court.

Asked by labour MP Julia Irwin whether he took perjury seriously, Justice Nicholson replied: "The court is not an investigative agency.

"All we can do, if a a judge feels there are concerns... the judge can refer the matter to the Attorney-General's Department.

"My experience, having done that, is that nothing happens - very rarely, some might be referred to the Federal Police."

The joint custody inquiry is examining whether, under Australian family law, separating couples should have equal custody of their children. It has been told that perjury is common - father's groups believe that false allegations are sometimes made of sexual interference with children to influence custody decisions.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Department yesterday rejected Justice Nicholson's claims, saying the department yesterday received "no more than three or four referrals a year" of alleged perjury from the Family Court, and the department took the claims very seriously.

Justice Nicholson denied that the court had predetermined ideas about custody.

"The cases that get to court are very difficult cases indeed," he said.

"I've never started a case saying the mother should win... often you change your mind during the case and often you agonise over it afterwards."

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