Council composition

To ensure an appropriate spectrum of of experience and skills, the membership of the Council includes:

  • Members of the judiciary
  • Members of the legal professions
  • Civil servants concerned with the administration of the family courts
  • Persons with experience in and knowledge of healthcare
  • Persons with experience in and knowledge of social care
  • Persons able to represent the interests of particular users of family courts (such as parents groups and children’s groups)

Full Family Justice Council Membership

Appointed Members

Members’ biographies

Jenny Beck KC (Hon) – Private Law Solicitor

Appointed: 2 January 2020

Jenny specialises in all areas of private family law including children and finances for married and unmarried families. She has particular expertise in more complex cases involving allegations of harm including domestic abuse and parental alienation. She is actively involved in the promotion of access to justice for all.

Vinice Cowell – Parent and Families representative member
Appointed: 2 August 2022
Vinice Cowell is a Child Protection Subject Matter Expert working within the Children and Families sector of Local Authority Social care for over 10 years. Vinice has dual experience of the children and families courts in both professional and personal private family law matters. Vinice is committed to changing the way services interact with families with a strong emphasis on delivering equality for all within statutory service structures. 
DJ Member -Vacant
Maud Davis – Public Law Solicitor

Appointed: 17 October 2016

Maud Davis qualified as a solicitor in 1990, became accredited by the Law Society in children law in 1996, and is a higher courts advocate (civil). She joined Bindmans LLP in 2020, after almost 20 years as a partner in other firms.  She specialises in children law, in particular representing children in complex care cases.

Maud is an honorary vice life president of the Association of Lawyers for Children and co-chairs the Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children. She is a member of Resolution, BAAF, the London Children’s Lawyer’s Group, and the International Bar Association. She is also an associate member of NAGALRO. She has been a member of advisory groups for socio-legal research, including work on mothers and fathers in repeat care proceedings, and children’ privacy in family proceedings. She regularly provides training and writes on family law.

Colette Dutton – Assistant Director of Children’s Services

Appointed: 1 August 2017

Qualified as a social worker in 1998 Colette has undertaken several Children’s Senior Leadership roles across local authority areas and nationally with Cafcass. The posts have encompassed a plethora of service areas from the courts to early help and children’s social care. Colette is passionate about putting children and young people at the forefront of all her work, ensuring the child’s voice and their lived experience remain the focus. Colette has used this to drive significant improvements in the quality of services and most importantly outcomes for children in all her roles. Colette has successfully challenged conventional thinking at a range of local, regional and national forums and boards and has a special interest in Adoption.

Since 2020 Colette has been the Director of Children’s Services at Wigan Council.

Angela Frazer-Wicks MBE
Parent and Families representative member
Appointed: 2 August 2022
Angela Frazer-Wicks MBE is a birth mum, her eldest two children were adopted in 2004 after a very long and fraught battle with her Local Authority due to domestic violence and mental health issues. She is now married with a young daughter who has had no Local Authority involvement whatsoever. In 2020 she was reunited with her eldest son.
Angela is Chair of Trustees of Family Rights Group and founding member of their parents panel, one of their expert panels of family members with direct lived experience of the Child Welfare and Family Justice System. She regularly speaks about her experiences in an attempt to highlight issues facing families in the hope of facilitating positive change. She has campaigned for many years to have the voices of families heard within the system.
Angela was awarded an MBE for services to children and families in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2023.

Ruth Henke KC – Silk
Appointed: 11 May 2022
Ruth Henke KC was called to the Bar in 1987. She took silk in 2006. Ruth is a Bencher of the Inner Temple and a S9(4) DHCJ. Ruth is a specialist in cases involving the protection of children and adults. She works throughout England and Wales. Ruth is Head of Chambers at 30 Park Place in Cardiff and a working door tenant at 1GC , London and Linenhall, Chester. Ruth is currently chair of the SE Wales branch of the FLBA. She is a member of the Law Commission’s  Welsh Advisory panel. Ruth contributes material to Butterworth’s Family Law Service and the Red Book.
Rosemary Hunter KC (Hon) – Academic

Appointed: July 2016

Rosemary is Professor of Law and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Kent. Rosemary’s academic expertise is in private family law and family justice processes, access to justice, and judging and the judiciary. In family law she has undertaken major research studies with colleagues on domestic abuse and the implementation of Practice Direction 12J, out-of-court family dispute resolution (the Mapping Paths to Family Justice Project) and litigants in person in private family law cases. She chairs the Council’s Domestic Abuse Working Group and has worked with the Judicial College to produce training videos on judgecraft in relation to litigants in person.
Bernadette MacQueen – Legal Adviser (Justices’ Clerk)
Appointed: 14 September 2020
After qualifying as a solicitor in local government, Bernadette has been a legal adviser to magistrates since 2003.  She is currently responsible for a team of lawyers working in the Family jurisdiction across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  In her previous role, she worked at the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre, advising on reciprocal maintenance law and becoming recognised nationally as an expert in the field.  More recently, she has developed an innovative approach to the triaging of private family law cases which has been adopted by courts around the country.

Simon Rowbotham – Junior Barrister
Appointed 1 August 2023
Simon Rowbotham’s practice at the Bar began in Manchester, where his work included all areas of family law. Since 2018, he has practised from London predominantly in private law, family finance and the Court of Protection. He sits as a Recorder on the Midlands Circuit.

Natalia Schiffrin – Magistrate
Appointed: 4 July 2022
Natalia started her legal career as an international human rights lawyer. She has been involved in the family justice system since joining the staff of Family Rights Group in 2004, where she worked for over a decade. Natalia has recently served as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Solace Women’s Aid and as a member of the Justice Working Party on Improving Access to Justice for Separating Families. She is currently a member of the Criminal Justice Alliance Expert Working Group on Remand Sentencing, an advisor to the Roma Rights Project at Law for Life and a consultant to a U.S. based law firm. She has been a Family Magistrate since 2018.

Fiona Straw – Paediatrician
Appointed: 12 October 2020
As a consultant paediatrician Fiona Straw brings over 25 years’ experience of working with children and young people. Having held various operational and strategic roles locally, regionally and nationally within medical safeguarding and child protection, she has significant expertise in all aspects of child abuse and neglect including CSE, FGM. Fiona is an expert medical witness and an advisor to the Royal College of Paediatrics Child Health and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine.Fiona is committed to improving multiagency understanding and partnership to ensure that all children and young people, and their careers, regardless of their situation are safeguarded from harm.


HHJ Karen Venables – Circuit Judge
Appointed: 1 October 2021
Karen qualified as a solicitor in 1986, and was the managing partner of a large family legal aid practice in London. She was appointed a District Judge in 2003 and a Circuit Judge in 2013. She sits in the Family Court at Milton Keynes and hears a wide range of complex public and private law children’s proceedings. Karen has been appointed the judicial lead responsible for the development of a local domestic abuse strategy for her court. She is also the lead FDAC (Family Drugs and Alcohol Court) judge for Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire and is involved in training and mentoring new FDAC judges throughout the country. She has also been involved in a range of initiatives to promote family justice, inter-agency co-operation and multi-disciplinary approaches including the evolution of problem-solving courts and a review of the way in which the voice of the child can be heard in private law proceedings.
Natasha Watson – Public Law Solicitor

Appointed: 17 October 2016

Natasha Watson was appointed to the FJC as the local authority lawyer representative in 2016. A highly experienced public law specialist she heads the safeguarding and litigation legal team for Brighton and Hove City Council. Natasha co- chaired the Sussex Family Justice Board until 2016. She regularly provides policy advice to the DFE and other bodies, and has contributed to various publications concerning the development of good practice, most recently in relation to social work reports in private law proceedings, and timescales for the assessment of special guardians. Natasha currently sits on the Public Law Working Group at the invitation of the President which has made extensive recommendations to improve practice and achieve the right outcomes for families before, during and after care proceedings. The final report and recommendations will be published later this year.
Claire Webb – Mediator

Appointed: 14 November 2018

Claire, a solicitor for over 20 years, is the Mediator member of the Family Justice Council and believes in communication above anything else. She is Member of Law Society Family Panel, is a Family and Civil Mediator and a Collaborative Lawyer (Resolution trained). Claire has achieved Accreditation through Resolution as Specialist Family Lawyer in and has a large following of clients in the south of England. As a trained Child Inclusive Mediator, Claire believes strongly in the voice of the child and contributed to the Voice of the Child report. Claire acts a supporter to other mediators as their Professional Practice Consultant and is also a 1-2-1 peer mentor for Resolution.   She recently trained as a Parenting Co-ordinator which she feels pulls of her skills together as it enables couples who remain in conflict after their case has closed, now have a process enabling them to co-parenting more effectively by reducing conflict. Claire is currently training to be a supervisor for those in the helping professions.

Sheena Webb – Child Mental Health Specialist
Appointed: 1 August 2023
Dr Sheena Webb is a consultant clinical psychologist with 20 years’ experience in the field of children and family services.  She has spent the past decade working alongside the Family Court within an NHS multidisciplinary expert team and then the Family Drug and Alcohol Court.  Dr Webb is an experienced trauma therapist and provides training, supervision and consultation to professionals from a trauma-informed perspective.  After leaving the NHS in 2021, she has collaborated with innovative organisations supporting research and development within social care and justice.  She has a special interest in integrating psychological theory, clinical experience and cross-disciplinary discourse to develop services that are responsive to people with complex needs. 

Ex-officio Members:

Rebecca Cobbin – HMCTS
Alistair Davey – Welsh Government
Sally Holland – Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Daniel Foster – DfE
Beatrice Longmore – Office of the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England
Luke Taylor – Ministry of Justice
Kate Thomas – CAFCASS Cymru
Barry Tilzey – CAFCASS

Executive Committee Members

Mr Justice Keehan


Maud Davis
Ruth Henke KC
Rosemary Hunter
Kate Thomas
Fiona Straw
HHJ Karen Venables
Natalia Schiffrin
Luke Taylor
Barry Tilzey

Code of Practice

Members of the Council must abide by our Code of Practice: