Families Need Fathers was awarded £525,322 by the Department for Education under the category of families and relationship support for 2011-2013.

They present themselves as the reasonable side of the fathers’ rights lobby in contrast to the stunts and extremism of Fathers 4 Justice: “The leading UK charity supporting dads, mums and grandparents to have personal contact and meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation.”

They have been awarded the Government’s “Help and Support for Separated Families” kite mark to show that they offer expert, impartial advice to separated parents. They were awarded the kite mark because they attended Karen Woodall’s training for telephone advice, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.

However, further investigation reveals a degree of misogyny within the organisation. Another concern is their association with men’s rights extremists.

I do not accept that Families Need Fathers gives impartial advice to support separated parents make “family based arrangements” for child maintenance.

Samantha Callan has a track record of collaborating with fathers’ rights activists, such as the Fatherhood Institute (moderate), Americans for Divorce Reform (moderate/extreme), Richard Doyle, author of Save the Male (extreme), and the Centre for Separated Families (extreme).

On 9 November 2010 Samantha Callan chaired a conference on “Relocation: Child Welfare and the Case for Reform”, with Craig Pickering of Families Need Fathers.

On 5 February 2011 Samantha Callan was a guest speaker at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law and the Court of Protection along with Craig Pickering of Families Need Fathers and John Baker of the Association of Shared Parenting (who is also in Families Need Fathers).

The relationship between the Centre for Social Justice and Families Need Fathers has continued, with Melanie Gill talking about her “scientific and forensic attachment based approach to addressing parental alienation” at the Families Need Fathers 2018 conference. Melanie Gill was a member of the Family Breakdown Working Group chaired by Samantha Callan, with deputy chair Harry Benson, that produced the Breakdown Britain report, Fractured Families, for the Conservative Party’s Social Justice Policy Group, commissioned from the Centre for Social Justice. She is also the co-founder, with former Conservative Education Minister Tim Loughton, of the Mindful Policy Group, alongside David Keighley, a former “right wing operative” and business partner of anti-feminist, Kathy Gyngell, also a Centre for Social Justice collaborator.

Karen and Nick Woodall have been close allies of Families Need Fathers for many years. Retired consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Hamish Cameron is a Patron of Families Need Fathers and supervised some of Karen Woodall’s early cases in the family courts. The Woodalls and Families Need Fathers share a common belief system:

  • Since the 1970s there has been a feminist conspiracy to eradicate fatherhood and destroy the traditional family.

  • Feminist organizations and the “domestic violence industry” encourage exaggerated and fabricated allegations of domestic violence and child abuse in order give mothers the upper hand in family courts.

  • The family courts are incompetent and institutionally biased against fathers.

  • Child maintenance is a loathsome imposition and should always be subject to private negotiation and dependent on fathers’ contact with children.

In February 2009 the Centre for Separated Families submitted a memorandum to the Work and Pensions Committee jointly with Families Need Fathers, JUMP (Jewish Unity for Multiple Parenting), MATCH (Mothers Apart From Their Children) and Resolution, objecting to the Labour Government’s proposal to administratively remove passports and driving licences from fathers for non payment of child support.

In August 2018 Jerry Karlin of Families Need Fathers wrote to the House of Lords complaining that proposed tougher sanctions against non payment were unfair when child maintenance obligations were set at unaffordable levels.

In November 2018 Minister Justin Tomlinson announced “new” powers (which the Government has had since 2008) to remove passports or impose curfews on fathers who refuse to pay child maintenance, and to remove money from joint bank accounts. On cue, squeals of protest emanated from Families Need Fathers.


Vincent McGovern is the Chair of Central and North London Branches of Families Need Fathers.  He was one of six headline speakers at the Families Need Fathers 2018 conference, speaking on “gendered domestic violence”. He is unequivocal in his loathing and contempt for most professionals involved in family court work.

Vincent McGovern is a frequent commenter on Karen Woodall’s blog, where the two vehemently agree that the family justice system and the welfare system are designed by fundamentalist feminists bent on destroying the nuclear family, emasculating boys and eradicating fathers. He is outspoken in his loathing and contempt for most professionals involved in family court work.  He is a frequent contributor other men’s rights activist websites such as William Collins’ Illustrated Empathy Gap and Justice 4 Men and Boys.  He wrote the sole review on Amazon of Nick Langford’s book, “An Exercise in Absolute Futility: How feminism, falsehood and myth changed the landscape of family law”.

Vincent McGovern is also close to fathers’ rights activist Nick Langford, who worked for Fathers 4 Justice from 2007 to 2012 and then for Wikivorce. He wrote the sole Amazon review of Nick Langford’s book, “An Exercise in Absolute Futility: How feminism, falsehood and myth changed the landscape of family law”. The two men have three-way conversations with Karen Woodall about the evils of feminism and the “domestic violence lobby” on her blog.

The Family Needs Fathers website has a Guide to Making Complaints to the Authorities written by Vincent McGovern.


Paul Apreda, National Development Manager of Families Need Fathers Cymru, uses much less extreme language, and sometimes shows a willingness to meet half way with women’s groups. However, his attendance at the International Conference for Men, organised by men’s rights activist Mike Buchanan of Justice 4 Men and Boys, is of concern. His comfort in sharing a platform with overt misogynists raises questions over his own attitudes towards women.

His presentation for the ICM had the title “The State’s War on Fathers”. Alt-right news website Breitbart, reporting on the 2016 International Conference for Men in London, quoted Paul Apreda advising that fathers “must provide a ‘reasonable face’ for their agenda, not like Fathers 4 Justice, a pro-father protest group based in the United Kingdom, who dress up in superhero costumes and use direct action protests, which of course makes them a very easy target for the media.”

The conference was organised by British men’s rights activist Mike Buchanan of Justice 4 Men and Boys, in association with the foremost American “MRA”, Paul Elam of A Voice For Men.

Mike Buchanan’s J4MB website is hosted by AVFM. Mike Buchanan believes that most rape allegations are false, that domestic violence kills more men than women, and posts Lying Feminists of the Month, Toxic Feminists of the Month, Gormless Feminists of the Month, and Whiny Feminists of the Month.

A Voice for Men is designated as a male supremacy hate group by the US civil rights organization, Southern Poverty Law Center.

Choice articles include “How to get your man to punch you in the face” and a piece about the family courts:

“The day I see one of these absolutely incredulous excuses for a judge dragged out of his courtroom into the street, beaten mercilessly, doused with gasoline and set afire by a father who just won’t take another moment of injustice, I will be the first to put on the pages of this website that what happened was a minor tragedy that pales by far in comparison to the systematic brutality and thuggery inflicted daily on American fathers by those courts and their police henchmen.”

According to Paul Elam, AVFM’s founder: Valentines Day, for far too many men, is actually Lighten Up and Don’t be such an Insufferable Bitch Day, but only if you get the present right.” And he tells the cautionary tale of men who should have stuck with prostitutes over materialistic wives and girlfriends: “they went fishing with stink bait and caught bottom dwellers.  And then they ended up silently stewing over it.” The rest of the article is too obscene to quote here.


In 2011 Paul Elam and a colleague created register-her.com, a website for men to register the names and addresses of “false” accusers of rape and domestic violence, explaining that:

I find you, as a feminist, to be a loathsome, vile piece of human garbage.  I find you so pernicious and repugnant that the idea of fucking your shit up gives me an erection.”

In 2015 Paul Elam uploaded this video on youtube of himself (doing the voiceover) Dean Esmay, and a group of men’s rights activists drunkenly and obscenely insulting feminist journalists Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte.

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Other speakers at the 2016 International Conference for Men included Erin Pizzey (a female men’s rights activist who works closely with Karen Woodall), Canadian “Honey Badgers” (female men’s rights activists) Janet Bloomfield (Judgy Bitch), Janice Fiamengo and Karen Straughan (GirlWritesWhat), British men’s rights activist William Collins (The Illustrated Empathy Gap), Indian men’s rights activist Anil Kumar, Herbert Purdy, author of “Their Angry Creed: The shocking history of feminism, and how it is destroying our way of life”, Kathy Gyngell of Conservative Home website and the Centre for Social Justice, and alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

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On 16 November 2016, four months after appearing at the International Conference for Men, Paul Apreda sat behind his colleague, Michael Lewkowicz, who was giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into child maintenance (pictured alongside Janet Allbeson of Gingerbread).


Anthony Esler was the Chair of the Newmarket branch of Families Need Fathers, as well as FNF’s Helpline Co-ordinator. He is a fervent admirer of Karen Woodall.


John Painter was the Chair of Families Need Fathers North East, and a sometime contributor to Karen Woodall’s blog.


17 January 2011 Anthony Esler

“Just read your article on ‘The cost of separation’ 15/1/11. A really excellent, incisive article.. I congratulate you on seeing the wood from the trees!”


10 February 2012: In the best interests of children: how Gingerbread get the rights argument wrong Anthony Esler

“Brilliant Karen…You go right to the heart of the matter…wish I could write like that! Have always admired your views but have only just discovered your blog..I shall follow!”


4 June 2013 Anthony Esler and Karen Woodall speculating about a “court woman” who “seems to hide behind a made up name and take a pop at me”.


4 June 2013 John Painter, Chair of Families Need Fathers North East

“Hi Karen, I always enjoy your blogs and largely agree with your analyses.”


9 July 2013

Anthony Esler and Karen Woodall bemoaning academic Liz Trinder as “the architect of women’s rights as they are upheld through the family court system”.


23 June 2013 Vincent McGovern in conversation with Karen Woodall and Paul Manning:

“And we have……Edward Timpson, childrens solicitor, Anthony Douglas head of the most maligned incompetent organisation that has failed totally in it’s statutory objective throughout, witness Ofsted investigations and House Of Commons select committee. And to complete the joke we have Liz Trinder, she of the closed and resolute mind that Shared Parenting is NOT in the best interests of children. And we question why the Lady Woodall is being marginalised? Much more of the same to continue, this sick soap opera has an inexhaustible supply of vulnerable children to marginalise and further damage.”


24 October 2013 Vincent McGovern

“I hear it every week with minor variations. In my dreams there will be a child and society focused system which does it’s job properly. In reality we have an extraordinary sick charade of a system. And it probably reflects much of the ruling class who exercise the three monkeys approach. Which is in response to the brutally father hostile opinion formers and journalists. Change will only come about from us campaigners making it happen. And we are few and they are many. Still, a battle has to be enjoyed in the meantime. About the only fun left in life sometimes.”


9 May 2014 discussion between Jerry Karlin and Karen Woodall


13 May 2014 Anthony Esler


15 July 2014 Vincent McGovern

“Unfortunately in the narrow stifled world of Cafcass and family courts there will always be the likelihood of desperate albeit tactically naive fathers eager to advance their cases by referring to blogs such as Karen’s when they meet unprofessional and biased personnel within the system. The more widely read these excellent blogs are the more they will by used in similar circumstances. Unintended consequences and all that.”


13 December 2014 Vincent McGovern

“I’m a senior member of Families Need fathers, Chair of Central and North London Branch which between them have approx 1,000 attendees per year. I won’t get into an FNFv Karen Woodall argument as that helps nobody. I have had 4 Ombudsman Investigations in my favour (2 were Parlia @Health Service) and I have addressed the Petitions Commission of European Parliament twice in 2014. The 2nd occasion I used work kindly provided by Karen Woodall. That said I personally welcome the grotesque child endangering gender discrimination laws being passed and I hope for more of them. My reasoning being men and fathers are in such denial about where they are in modern society that things will have to become worse before they will wake up and take corrective action which does not mean back to the past but rather forward in an enlightened and equal manner.

The few people currently aware and effectively addressing this are mostly female, KW and Erin Pizzey in the lead. When I speak to men outside of this business their eyes glaze over. Similar to the last Dodo when it greeted Dutch sailors approaching it with raised clubs in the 18th century.

In the European Parliament the MEP’s I met consider the UK to be in the dark ages. And that is from hardened feminists who unlike the toxic lot in the plethora of children’s and family court services in UK genuinely believe in equality. A huge difference in mindset and outcomes for children between Continental Europe and UK. That is the road to solution. Gender Neutral Impartial Professionalism. I won’t hold my breath.”

Karen Woodall: “Vincent, this article is not bashing FNF and not trying to start a fight with FNF either, it is based on the fact that FNF are the only voice in government speaking about these issues which affect families and they are up against the absolute might of the women’s interest groups. This leaves the field so massively unbalanced right at the time that the MPG are starting their Mcintoshing that I fear for what will happen in the next ten years. Maybe I should keep my big mouth shut but I can’t work in this field knowing what I know without speaking the truth because if I don’t then I will simply become one of those who profit from the abuse and I could not live with myself if I did that – which was why I walked away from government in the first place.”


13 June 2015 Vincent McGovern in discussion with Karen Woodall and Nick Langford of Wikivorce

“How many occasions do I get angry about the wilful impotence and servility of men who kneel at the alter of female power and who then head into paroxysms of anger or depression when they find themselves being shafted royally by the myriad auxillary ‘woman saintly man ogre’ only view of Social Services, Domestic Violence Agencies, NSPCC, and Cafcass who usually do the real dirty work within the family court arena.

I sometimes say to men who poo poo this possibility to look at the Dodo, a large friendly bird who died out because of an inability to develop and protect itself. Worse, much worse such delusional head in the sand mentality means that men cannot not alone protect themselves, they cannot do the far more important job of protecting their children. I consider modern Western man to be the least capable generation in the history of human existence. Not because he cannot go back to a long gone past, he refuses to understand and accept the present thes denying him the opportunity to shape the future.”


16 November 2015

Vincent McGovern: “Anyone who is considered or portrays themself as an expert in parental alienation but who has NOT worked directly and successfully with at least 20 or more alienated children is either a fraud or an academic. Quite often I cannot tell the difference. Hands on approach and on the job training is what matters. As for Teflon coated I would add asbestos lined also. Good to have you back in Blighty.”

Karen Woodall: “Thanks Vincent, good to be back though the weeks ahead look both packed out and turbulent in so many ways. We keep on keeping on, that is the key to it.”


Three years ago Vincent McGovern was one of fifty signatories to a petition raised by Justice 4 Men and Boys to sack the “relentlessly anti-male” Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, for pushing the Crown Prosecution Service to push up rape convictions.


In 2016 Vincent McGovern was a speaker at a public meeting about “London: The Fatherless Capital” with the four-times-married George Galloway and Matt O’Connor of Fathers 4 Justice who admitted to the Guardian that “own first family life fell apart when he became what he calls a “fully paid-up hedonist”.


13 December 2017 Vincent McGovern on solicitor Marilyn Stowe’s blog:

“Sometimes I wonder if you have totally lost or abandoned any sense of impartial professionalism. A virtually endless diatribe of ‘believe the victim’ (meaning the woman is always truthful, never lies) seems to be your default position. Considering the ONS for years shows domestic abuse is roughly 55/45 male perpetrators/female perpetrators, any chance of of your articles reflecting this. Or to be really courageous, how about exploring why the UK family court system and myriad gender vigilante services directly causes the worst parental alienation in the developed world. In other words think of the children rather than crude protectionism of your beloved system.”


18 December 2017 Vincent McGovern men’s rights website The Illustrated Empathy Gap, in discussion with site author William Collins and Mike Buchanan of Justice 4 Men and Boys:

“Only by effective rebuttal of the endless propaganda demonising men and access to articles such as this is society ever going to bring about change and improvement. The ‘follow the money’ mantra which in this business means throw money at the ideology of ‘men are bad women are victims,’ can only be countered by as many as possible reading these blogs by ‘William Collins’ and educate others of relevance.”


29 December 2017 Vincent McGovern on The Illustrated Empathy Gap in discussion with blog author William Collins and Nick Langford on the subject of barrister Charlotte Proudman, who another contributor calls “a whore”:

“I once met the fragrant Ms Proudman, about 3 months after her ‘ordeal’ following a private compliment from a man who triggered her self induced neurosis. Ms Proudman works primarily as a barrister in family law, the general legal refuge for the bottom feeders and gender vigilantes. She looked ok, certainly not as good as her famous photo. There are sadly far more intelligent female lawyers beavering away in the legal profession advising domestic violence agencies and charities on how to interpret legislation from a purely gendered viewpoint.”


16 February 2018 Vincent McGovern

Nick Langford’s excellent post above gets straight to the central failing of the family court system in the UK. Far too often when there is ‘intractable hostility’ which usually means a resident parent who abuses the child/children because she (95%of RP) wants to use the child to hurt and destroy the non resident father. After fathers have been stitched up by highly gendered local authority DV agencies, Cafcass (their DV perpetrator programmes are for males only) LASPO, and legal aid gender discrimination, he then finds out the court is not too concerned with the ‘welfare of the child being paramount.’ If it were, it would enforce it’s own orders.”