Second families make emotional appeal for fair play

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A YOUNG protester joins fathers and their second wives in calling for the abolition of the Child Support Agency, writes Heather Mills. About 400 second families descended upon the agency's London headquarters yesterday. Many banners read 'CSA - Children Seriously Affected'. With them came their tales of hardship.

Barry Shaw, a Nottingham drayman, and his wife, Maureen, were typical. Mr Shaw, who receives income support, used to pay pounds 15 a week to his first wife for their daughter. The CSA wants to raise that to pounds 70 - half his income after mortgage, council tax and water rates. 'We have two boys of our own and are going to be left with absolutely nothing - we are desperate,' Mrs Shaw said.

Mairtine Wray said she and her husband were moving to Ireland to escape the CSA's jurisdiction. Organisers claim that the agency has targeted responsible fathers who pay towards the upkeep of their children while ignoring runaway fathers. At the headquarters, the families laid wreaths. One read: 'In memory of the daughter I once knew. The CSA say paying maintenance to the Treasury is more important than seeing you, sweetheart.'

Changes in the family, page 5

(Photograph omitted)