Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Smacking saga could go to Lords

Actors simulate smacking
The issue of smacking has proved contentious

The Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley, has defended her attempts to ban parents from smacking their children.

Her latest attempt was dismissed by the High Court in Belfast 10 days ago.

But Mrs Lewsley says she is now considering an appeal to the House of Lords.

She said: "It is a very contentious issue but I have been put in place to be the voice for young people in Northern Ireland."

She denied reports that the legal challenges have cost around 200,000: "We don't have a final cost but our estimate is we will have spent around 74,000 over three years."

The commissioner said she had to consider a number of issues including cost and legal opinions before making a decision whether to appeal to the Lords.

I am not out to criminalise parents
Patricia Lewsley
Children's Commissioner

She also denied believing that parents who smack are morally equivalent to child abusers.

"The children I have spoken to will tell me when they are hit they fell humiliated.

"But I am not out to criminalise parents, my intent is to support parents, to give them methods to keep discipline in the home without hitting."

The DUP MP David Simpson has tabled a motion in the House of Commons criticising what he calls the commissioner's waste of public money in pursuit of an "ideologically driven legal campaign" and calls on her to cease "attempting to criminalise loving, caring parents".



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SEE ALSO
Commissioner loses smack appeal
20 Feb 09 |  Northern Ireland
Defeat for smacking ban legal bid
21 Dec 07 |  Northern Ireland
'Missed chance' on smacking ban
25 Oct 07 |  UK Politics


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