A former Big Brother contestant from Shropshire today spoke of his battle to see his daughter – and why he is part of a national campaign for the rights of fathers.
Kris Donnelly’s situation has made headlines because his former partner Joanne happens to be David Beckham’s sister.
They had been together for a short period of time when she became pregnant. But within six months of their daughter Peggy’s birth, they’d split.
Kris says he hasn’t seen his daughter for months and has no idea when he’ll be allowed to again.
He says he fell into dispute with his former partner after he uploaded a photograph of Peggy onto social media. The family courts stopped him from seeing his daughter again.
The 33-year-old says he has been driven to despair. He came close to killing himself and says he has had to talk other men out of suicide.
Now he is working with the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice to try to introduce new legislation and has launched an online petition called #PeggysLaw.
He hopes to gather 100,000 signatures for a law that will alter the “mother knows best” presumption of the family court to one where there is a natural presumption towards parents having equal rights and children having a right to see both parents.
Kris, who appeared in the tenth series of Big Brother, now lives in Shrewsbury. and says he has gained support from across the West Midlands.
He said: “I have a lot of followers. I live by The Boathouse in Shrewsbury.
“I’m Shropshire born and bred. After the break-up of the relationship, I came back home and I’m so thankful for all my mates and family. I won’t be leaving.”
Kris claims his story provides a cautionary tale, adding: “We split up in April, five months after the child came along.
“She’d fallen pregnant after we’d been together for three weeks.”
Initially, the duo agreed to co-parent and Kris saw his daughter for four hours on alternate Sundays. He thought that insufficient and a solicitor wrote to Peggy’s mother seeking a more equitable arrangement. And then he claims contact stopped.
Kris claims that family court hearings were effectively character assassinations and that he barely recognised what solicitors said about him.
He said: “It is guilty until proven innocent in the family court.
“I hit rock bottom. Without my school mates and without people I know and trusted I would have done something very silly.
“But over the past year, I’ve realised this is an epidemic and something needs to be done.
“I need for there to be a debate in the House of Commons. So that’s what Peggy’s Law is all about.
“We want equality, that’s all, for men and women and children. Men – and it is mostly men – are the victim of gender apartheid when it comes to co-parenting and dealing with the Family Courts.
“The system is deeply misandrist. Men are treated as second class citizens. And while that’s an absolute scandal and outrage, it’s the kids who I care most about. That’s why we want to do something about it.
“I had contact in a contact centre in London for a little while and that was devastating. It got so hard, I thought about walking out. It was this grubby little place in Essex. Then the contact order was broken because I’d posted a picture of Peggy on social media and that’s it.”
Kris says he’s been astonished that a situation that could easily have been resolved has become increasingly polarised.
“It’s amazing what happens. At the end of the day, life is all about being a nice person – fame is nonsense. All I want to do is bring about some equality for children.
“That’s what motivates me. I don’t care about anything else.”