Tuesday, 2 January 2001


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 Survey, 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 fulltime contract to Mr Harris for a 30hour 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.

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