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Tina Cook QC on the films of Rehna Azim – Counsel magazine

Tina Cook QC gives her views on Rehna Azim’s work and the need for more discussion and transparency in the family justice system (Counsel magazine review, March 2014)

“Never Had You” was one of several films by Rehna Azim screened on 17 October 2014 at the Courthouse hotel. It is a legal drama directed by Charlotte George, written by Rehna Azim, and produced by Isabella de Rosario and Bleeding Heart Films and stars Doon Mackichan and Helen Clapp. Phaedra Parker (Helen Clapp) is a barrister in the family courts, struggling with her own personal demons. Ms Bewson (Doon Mackichan), the mother of a baby who has suffered non-accidental injuries, is facing a mother’s worst nightmare – lose her baby, lose her husband, lose both. In the film, their two worlds collide.

I was in good company at the screening, with representatives from the Law Society, FLBA, NSPCC, Judiciary, CYPS, CAFCASS and the media; all bodies which have an important voice in this discussion.

The films capture the emotional nuances of family cases which few ‘outsider’ film makers could accurately portray. The subject matters are heavy but the films are moving and tinged with a wry humour that many of us experienced in family work can recognize. The juxtaposition between the personal life of the professionals and the lay clients was remarkably on point, highlighting the common humanity of the two.

The films also provoke discussion; a panel Q+A followed the screening with a lively debate about the need for transparency in the family justice system but also the limits of the same.

There is a greater scope yet for the exploration of the issues facing the family justice system and all who work in it. I hope the films gain a wider audience and can help foster a greater trust in the work that we as counsel, solicitors, guardians, social workers and medical experts do.

TINA COOK QC


28.03.2014