Courts - Scotland - Child to sue Minister
A SCHOOLGIRL at the centre of a bitter custody battle is preparing
to sue Jack McConnell for £10million.
Jacqueline Shields, 14, claims the First Minister has failed
to protect her basic human rights to be brought up in a stable
Since her parents divorced 10 years ago, she has pleaded to
be allowed to live with her dad Duncan.
But despite this, the courts have ordered her to stay with
In desperation, Jacqueline has repeatedly run away from her
mum's home in Greenock, Renfrewshire, and returned to her
dad's in nearby Gourock.
Now she is beginning a court battle, saying the legal system
has ignored her civil rights to 'peace and stability which
a custodial parent should be able to provide for a child'.
Jacqueline claims all her requests for legal help in the custody
case have been refused or ignored.
The initial writ against McConnell was lodged at Edinburgh
It seeks the massive damages 'for the years of avoidable psychological
distress due to his failure to prevent major abuses of Scottish
law and failure to protect children which the defender has
a duty to ensure but instead did nothing'.
Jacqueline claims the First Minister's failure in his duty
to protect minors has caused her severe distress and unhappiness.
She says he should have used his position to ensure she was
'properly represented in the court process'.
Jacqueline has already appeared before MSPs and petitioned
the parliament over her fight.
She appeared before the public petitions committee in December
2002 with her sister Karen and brother Mark.
She told MSPs: 'I have been fighting for years to stay with
my dad. While that has been happening, I have felt that wrong
decisions have been made on my behalf.
'They have been made when I have hadno counsel acting for
'I have had to stand up in court and give hurtful and upsetting
reasons why I wish to stay with my dad. Even then, it was
still granted that I should return to my mother's.'
Since addressing the MSPs, she and her dad have suffered further
Earlier this year, Mr Shields was ordered to repay thousands
of pounds in legal aid for failing to disclose information
on a BT redundancy payment.
The family could face eviction from their home.
Jacqueline's dad refused to comment, saying: 'We're under
immense pressure and this is really not the time to talk about
Her mum was also unavailable for a comment.
Though Jacqueline's writ was formally lodged with the court,
the papers were returned for amendment and they have yet to
be served on McConnell.
A spokeswoman for the Executive said: 'When a writ is served
it will be dealt with by the Scottish Executive's solicitors.
'It would be inappropriate to comment further at present.'