Solicitor denies arranging female genital mutilation on daughter over stolen piggy bank money

Solicitor denies arranging female genital mutilation on daughter over stolen piggy bank money

A solicitor has denied arranging for his daughter to be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) as a punishment for taking money from a piggy bank.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of overseeing the cutting of his eldest daughter on two occasions when she was aged between eight and 12.

The Old Bailey heard the girl had written a suicide note when she was around 11 years old.

The 50-year-old, of south London, is also accused of cruelty to the same daughter, as well as two younger children - a boy and girl.

He is said to have hit his children with sticks and called them names.

The defendant, originally from west Africa, denied such behaviour, saying: "All my children, the boy and the girls, they are loved equally."

He added: "I have never used any implement on any of my children. I have never used my hand to hit them."

He explained that he has in the past been mistaken for being angry when he had in fact just become animated and loud due to his cultural background.

Giving evidence, he said: "It's normal for me, you know, I spent a lot of my life in (Africa).

"Over here they would say 'dad, you're shouting'. But I don't see myself as shouting. I'm not angry. For me I am not shouting. That's the way I speak."

Kate Bex QC, defending, asked him about an incident when money had apparently gone missing from the family home.

She said: "Did you ever threaten to have her (your eldest daughter) cut in her genitalia as a punishment for taking that money?"

He answered that he would not have made such a threat, adding: "I never."

In cross-examination by Mark Heywood QC, the defendant was asked about his attitude to the practice of FGM.

He said: "I do not agree with it because it's hurting. It's unfair, it's an invasion of privacy. It's wrong."

The man said he and his ex-wife, the mother of his children, had a volatile relationship.

He said they often argued and claimed his wife had been violent, once biting his finger while the children were present.

He said he believed she had hit the children, although he accepted he had never seen her hurt them.

He had been subjected to constant threats throughout their marriage, he said, including that his wife would divorce him and would accuse him of being abusive towards her and the children.

He told the jury: "She has threatened me all through our relationship."

He added: "It's an abomination where I come from and in England when a man abuses his children."

But Mr Heywood accused the man of lying saying: "Your wife never hit the children, did she? And your tale of that was dreamt up by you when you were spoken to by the police in relation to these allegations (last year).

"The reason you are struggling, I suggest, to produce a single shred of evidence that your wife is responsible for beating the children is because there isn't any. It's not true."

The defendant faces two counts of FGM between May 31 2009 and June 1 2013, and two alternative counts of wounding with intent.

He also faces three charges of cruelty - one each against the same daughter and two of his other children across a seven-year period until 2016.

He denies all the charges. The trial has been adjourned until Monday.

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