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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Family Courts
Harriet Harman, Minister for Constitutional Affairs
BBC Radio 4's Law in Action was broadcast on Tuesday, 6 June, 2006 at 1600 BST.

In recent years, the family courts have attracted a lot of adverse publicity. Shrouded in secrecy, pressure groups such as Fathers 4 Justice claimed they were institutionally biased against men. There have also been on-going problems with the use of expert witnesses involving parents who were alleged to have abused their children.

But now, Harriet Harman, Minister for Constitutional Affairs, wants to open the courts up to the press and public and a consultation document is due to be published any day. It is likely to be controversial.

Many judges will argue that this cannot be done without infringing the privacy of children and families that the secrecy is meant to protect. As an experiment in transparency they have let Radio 4 into the family proceedings court in Wells Street, Central London. The reporter, Jenny Cuffe, tells Law in Action what she found.

You can hear Jenny Cuffe's programmes, "Inside the Family Court", on Thursday June 8th and Thursday June 15th at 20.00 on Radio 4.

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