A BUSINESSMAN has offered a job to a father jailed for trying to see his children.

 Port Talbot company owner Pat Lyons is so angry at the sentence handed out to Plymouth  driving instructor Mark Harris that he has offered him a job.

Mr Lyons, a member of the Equal Parenting Council, is helping organise a protest outside the home of the judge who jailed Mr Harris last month. The 36-year-old Plymouth man was jailed for 10 months two weeks ago and fined pounds 500 for contempt of court for trying to see his three daughters, even though he had been barred from doing so. Mr Harris, who is a leading campaigner for reform of the Family Court System, is on hunger strike at Pentonville Prison.Yesterday Mr Lyons, 41, who owns PJL Surveys, said he felt so angry at the case that he had offered Mr Harris full-time employment while he is in prison. "I feel so strongly about this that I'm quite prepared to support this man any way I can.                 "I've spoken to his mother this morning and she is very concerned.                                "Why should a father be jailed simply for saying hello to his children?" Mr Lyons said he had sent a full time contract to Mr Harris for a 30 hour week based on the minimum wage to his prison hospital and would pay him however long he stayed in prison. "I'm quite prepared to fund his wages for the full 10 months and if, when he comes out, he would like to come down here for two to three weeks to get his head back together then I will be happy to support him." Mr Lyons said he was taking the action as a concerned father. "The Equal Parenting Council wants to see parents, both mothers and fathers, treated equally under the law after divorce or separation." Mark Harris was jailed at the High Court in London on March 23.  Among the charges he faced were that he drove into an exclusion zone while conducting a driving lesson in the hope that he might see them and handed a birthday present and note to one of them without it being vetted by social services. 


The generosity of Pat Lyons   
September 30, 2001 | Copyright

The generosity of Pat Lyons

DOZENS of e-mails from around the globe have arrived at The Guardian in support of the Port Talbot businessman who has employed a convicted criminal.

From the Ivory Coast in Africa to inland Canada, news of Pat Lyons and his generosity has gone worldwide.

Last month, the Guardian reported how Mr Lyons, of Margam, had employed a man currently serving a prison sentence.

He had never met the father-of-three from Plymouth, but felt so angry about his case, that he decided to pay him a wage for the duration of his 10-month sentence.

He is supporting the man, aged 36, who was fined £500 and jailed in March for contempt of court, after making attempts to see his three children having been barred from doing so. …


 Supporting and protecting my  workforce 

 I'd rather face jail than pay CSA' 

A COMPANY owner has vowed that he will go to jail rather than pay the Child Support Agency on behalf of any of his staff who are denied access to their children.

Pat Lyons, who owns PJL Surveys, a civil engineering firm in Port Talbot, has made the pledge on behalf of fathers who are unfairly blocked from seeing their children.

All 12 of Mr Lyons' staff were given contracts saying that after 26 weeks of employment his firm will not pay the CSA on their behalf if they are being denied access in breach of a court order.

Mr Lyons, 43, who has been through his own separation, said he would go to jail and allow the Government to fold his company, which has traded in South Wales for more than 20 years, before he would breach the contracts.  

He said the problem of men being denied access to their children can  "destroy a small businesses".

Men who find themselves in this position often under-perform in the workplace because their personal problems make it difficult for them to devote themselves to the job, he argues.

Two years ago, Mr Lyons paid the salary of Mark Harris, from Plymouth, when he was sent to prison for 10 months for waving to his children and breaking injunctions preventing him seeing them.

Mr Lyons said, "The situation with seeing the children must not be grey at all.

"It must be absolutely that the mother is out 100% not to comply with the court order and the court order must be in place.

"If that father is told by a court that he must see his children and if he is rightly turning up to see his child and that child is being held back by the mother, we will take on the issue with him.

"We will support him as an employee. In supporting him, we will provide him with the use of our telephones to ring organisations that will help.

"We will tell him he can use our internet service to access information.

"We will also tell him that if he is not seeing his children we will aggressively fight the CSA for him, which includes telling the CSA we will not deduct this payment. I will write to them and tell them.

"I will fight this organisation head on. I'm prepared to go to jail for justice.

"I would go to jail before I would back down on this issue."

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said Mr Lyons would be breaking the law and could be prosecuted if he refused to make payments to the CSA for one of his staff.

Fathers for Justice, which campaigns for better rights of access and custody for men, backed Mr Lyons's stance.

Spokesman and founder Matt O'Connor said there is no legal presumption to contact for parents, despite obligations to pay a child's maintenance.

But family law specialists Hugh James solicitors, based in Cardiff, said the law is there to protect everyone and the suitable response from fathers is to attempt to have contact orders enforced.

Solicitor Malcolm Stevens said, "Men often feel aggrieved when they are prevented from seeing children whilst at the same time they are being required to make child maintenance payments.

"They often want to strike back at the parent who has care of the child by refusing to pay.

"That, however, is not the responsible and correct way of going about the problem."

But Fathers for Justice says courts are almost never willing to jail mothers who refuse to abide by contact orders.

The group criticises the courts for jailing mothers when they fail to send their children to school and refusing to punish them when they prevent their child from seeing their father.

Mr Lyons says he was moved to take such a radical stance because of what he regards as the mistreatment of fathers by family courts.

Mr Lyons, who sees his son Ashley Davies Lyons, 6, on weekends, said, "Throughout, industry the costs are borne through under-utilisation of staff. My business has run at 30% below capacity because of this problem."

He added that at the moment all his staff who are separated are being given proper access and he has not yet had to follow through his contractual commitment.



(Fathers 4 Justice) Story in todays Port Talbot GAURDIAN

 Exclusive by David Dulin

Pat Lyons of Wern Road, Margam won an internet auction on E-bay for the packet.It is signed by protesters Ron Davies Guy Harrison who sparked a major security alert at the House of Commons in May when condoms filled with powder were hurled at the PM.Forty Four year old Mr Lyons a South Wales Fathers for Justice campaigner said he bought the condoms because the incident represented a landmark protest by the group in the campaign for improved rights for dads to see their children."People are now more aware of what is happening and the problems fathers face getting access to their children," he said.    "I know some people will think £84 is a crazy price to pay for a packet of condoms however it should be compared with the 32 minutes of solicitors time it will buy. Children are losing one parent usually the father from their lives at the rate of 100 per day, it's little wonder protesters are climbing tower cranes and targeting our Prime Minister with condoms filled with flour".  The problem is further exacerbated when these "second citizen" parents find that the family court system is so overloaded that it may be 6 months before a case comes before its "deaf" ears.  A Port Talbot branch of Fathers for Justice will open next month and Mr Lyons said the group can only get stronger.  "As an absent father, I have found trying to be a good dad to my son over the last seven years akin to playing a constant game of chess". My role as a parent is impaired by the prejudice against fathers. "I am not even second in rank to see my child who quite frankly seems to have more contact with his X-Box". "The financial gravy train of feeding solicitors can typically cost a father  £5,000+ a year and much of his annual leave.                                               END OF STORY 


































 Family Law is Not what it appears !!

PJL Surveys have supported the aims of Fathers 4 Justice in their campaign to protect the best interests of affected children. F4J draws attention to the perceived corruption in the family court system, where all too often lawyers provoke custody battles between parents for profit. The current system helps remove the Father from a child's life rather than promotes equality in parenting. F4J were founded in the UK by Matt O'Connor, a marketing consultant and father who became a prominent critic of UK family law after a court barred him from seeing his young sons outside of a contact centre whilst he could see them inside !. F4J's stated aim is to champion the cause of equal parenting, family law reform and equal contact for divorced parents with children. It is well-known for its campaigning techniques of dramatic protest stunts, usually dressed as comic book superheroes and frequently scaling public buildings, bridges and monuments. On 17 December 2002, O'Connor and a small group of supporters staged their first protest by storming the Lord Chancellor's Office dressed as Father Christmas. In January 2003, F4J was officially founded Impact Fathers 4 Justice's main impact remains upon media coverage and legal treatment of fathers' rights issues in the UK. The use of high-profile and disruptive stunts has garnered significant UK media coverage. The political aims of the group are as yet unachieved, but one of its central aims - the removal of secrecy surrounding family courts - is the subject of active political debate.