`I'd Rather Face Jail Than Pay CSA' Company Boss Pledges to Fight on Behalf of Dads Denied Their Rights
Byline: Darren Devine
A COMPANY owner has vowed that he will go to jail rather than pay the Child Support Agency on behalf of any of his staff who are denied access to their children.
Pat Lyons, who owns PJL Surveys, a civil engineering firm in Port Talbot, has made the pledge on behalf of fathers who are unfairly blocked from seeing their children.
All 12 of Mr Lyons' staff were given contracts saying that after 26 weeks of employment his firm will not pay the CSA on their behalf if they are being denied access in breach of a court order.
Mr Lyons, 43, who has been through his own separation, said he would go to jail and allow the Government to fold his company, which has traded in South Wales for more than 20 years, before he would breach the contracts.
He said the problem of men being denied access to their children is ``destroying small businesses''.Men who find themselves in this position often under-perform in the workplace because their personal problems make it difficult for them to devote themselves to the job, he argues.
Two years ago, Mr Lyons paid the salary of Mark Harris, from Plymouth, when he was sent to prison for 10 months for waving to his children and breaking injunctions preventing him seeing them.
Mr Lyons said, ``The situation with seeing the children must not be grey at all.
``It must be absolutely that the mother is out 100% not to comply with the court order and the court order must be in place.
``If that father is told by a court that he must see his children and if he is rightly turning up to see his child and that child is being held back by the mother, we will take on the issue with him.
``We will support him as an employee. In supporting him, we will provide him with the use of our telephones to ring organisations that will help.
``We will tell him he can use our internet service to access information.
``We will also tell him that if he is not seeing his children we will aggressively fight the CSA for him, which includes telling the CSA we will not deduct this payment. I will write to them and tell them.
``I will fight this organisation head on. I'm prepared to go to jail for justice.
``I would go to jail before I would back down on this issue.''
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said Mr Lyons would be breaking the law and could be prosecuted if he refused to make payments to the CSA for one of his staff.
Fathers for Justice, which campaigns for better rights of access and custody for men, backed Mr Lyons's stance.
Spokesman and founder Matt O'Connor said there is no legal presumption to contact for parents, despite obligations to pay a child's maintenance. …