22 SEPTEMBER 1961, Page 15


SIR,—Brenda Ley's story of the unmarried mother of her acquaintance needed to be told, and it is to be hoped that it will not fall upon deaf ears in the quarters responsible for such incredible and cruel behaviour.

May I add a story of my own, revealing another angle of injustice forced upon the unmarried mother?

A few years ago I attended a 'Drawing Room Meeting' to hear a Moral Welfare worker speak. It was the first opportunity I had had of learning something about this work and I was extremey impressed. One revelation, however, appalled me. We were told of the case of a girl who had a baby by a young man to whom she was engaged to be married. The man had admitted to the Welfare worker that he was responsible for the expected baby, and that he intended to marry the girl shortly. Then his mother turned against the girl and talked him out of the marriage. The child was born, the young man disclaimed paternity, and the girl was forced to seek maintenance in court. The man brought a solicitor to court who tied the girl into knots with his questions over dates, etc., and she lost her case because she had no funds to engage a solicitor to fight her case on equal ground.

I asked the speaker why this girl had not had Legal Aid so that she could have the benefit of a solicitor, and was told that no Legal Aid is avail- able in cases of this kind; however desperate the girl's plight she is not eligible for Legal Aid because her position is the outcome of an immoral act.

This seems to me a terrible injustice. The man and woman are equally 'guilty'; he continues to earn and can afford to finance a legal expert to argue him out• of financial liability, whereas the girl is completely tied to the baby and therefore unable to earn the necessary fee to engage a solicitor. Having failed to establish paternity, not only is the girl saddled with having to support the child, but the child, too, must inevitably suffer through lack of funds for its support.