A CAMPAIGNER whose two children died in a fire started by their father in 2014 was brought to tears after her tireless campaigning resulted in success.
The Domestic Abuse Bill - which 49-year-old Claire Throssell has been fighting for since the death of her two children Jack and Paul - received royal assent and was signed into law last Thursday.
The brothers died in a fire started by their dad and Claire’s estranged husband, Darren Sykes.
She told the Chronicle: “I cried when I saw that it had been passed.
“It didn’t quite sink in at first because we’ve fought for it for so long, so to finally get it passed it shows that you can do anything when you put your mind to it.”
Last month, amendments to the bill - which would’ve seen serial offenders placed on the current violent and sex offender register - were voted against by MPs.
“It’s bittersweet because the stalking register isn’t on the bill and neither is the presumption of contact - six out of the seven things that I’ve been pushing have gone through,” said Claire.
“It doesn’t quite feel like a victory but it is a great step forward - there’s still much more to do.”
As part of the new bill, children are now legally recognised as victims of domestic abuse, and anyone accused of committing crimes will no longer be able to cross-examine their partners in a family court - something Claire said is long overdue.
“As a survivor and domestic abuse campaigner, the new act is a chance to make sure survivors are safe, protected and loved,” she added.
“The vital changes to the family court are long overdue and everyone accessing them deserves / better.
“It is high time the family courts are safe and supportive, protecting victims and survivors instead of shielding perpetrators. The complete ban on cross examination is good news - it was completely barbaric and humiliating.”
Claire, whose petition to change how courts endorse contact between children and parents in abuse cases has reached 75,000 signatures, admits there’s still work to be done.
“I promised Jack and Paul that they would be last and at that point the number was 19 - it’s now at 30 children and it’s simply not good enough,” she said. “We’re going to be handing the petition to Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland in the next few months and then it will have to be debated in Parliament.
“The support I’ve received has been so lovely and without them I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am now - they’ve given me a reason to keep fighting.”
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, welcomed the passing of the bill - but admits that there are things that could have been done to strengthen the document.
She said: “It is a welcome step but could have gone further. Violence against women and girls is still far too common and prevention is essential. We have sadly seen a significant rise in cases over the course of the pandemic with Refuge reporting a 65 per cent increase to its helpline and 700 per cent increase to its website.
“I’ve worked closely with IDAS who support survivors of domestic abuse across Barnsley, and I would urge anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse to contact them immediately.”