A Horrifying Abuse Scandal

A man behind bars in a balaclava

Bob really should have thought more carefully before being rude to his social worker

The Witchfinder comments on the legal implications of a recent article by Mark Neary, especially in light of Baker J’s recent judgement in AJ (Deprivation Of Liberty Safeguards) [2015] EWCOP 5.

I was horrified to read Mark Neary’s recent article about the reality of ‘supported living’ in some local authority facilities.

Mark had identified a supported living facility in a local authority catchment area. The facility was originally a care home with 20 rooms.

It was converted to ’20 supported living studio flats’.

The reality he describes is of a building with 20 ‘flats’, 2 toilets, 2 bathrooms and fewer staff. Leaving aside the poor quality of the care provided, your Inquisitor is concerned with the Deprivation of Liberty issues. Why?

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards do not apply to supported living arrangements.

Continue reading

Share Button

Battery Farm Deprivation of Liberty

Bleeding Rose

Labour must take responsibility for the immense human suffering caused by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Picture licensed from Dreamstime)

The Witchfinder discovers that the Court of Protection is now on the verge of collapse. Bombshell Court papers show that it is contemplating bulk Deprivation of Liberty applications without representation of the person being detained.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) has been the subject of unprecedented criticism. It is a law passed by Labour and intended to fill various gaps in existing legislation. Like nearly all Labour legislation it has been praised for its visionary principles but destroyed due to its cumbersome, expensive and poorly thought out machinery. That machinery is now falling apart.

Continue reading

Share Button

Epic Safeguarding Fail – Why Lynda Bull Should be Sacked

Milton Keynes Council Fail

Milton Keynes’ new Safeguarding Policy does almost nothing to prevent a repeat of its recent court humiliation. Picture licensed via Dreamstime.

The Witchfinder points out some truths that liberals find inconvenient. The hysteria underlying witch hunts has a kernel of truth and they often serve a useful purpose when the institutions governing our society are not functioning to protect it. Turning to the recent scandal involving the unlawful detention of an old woman by Milton Keynes Council your humble inquisitor sets out the case for Director Lynda Bull’s career in social care to come to an end.

This site first learned of the case of Milton Keynes Council v RR & Ors [2014] EWCOP B19 on the website of the beautiful and eternally well-informed Dr Lucy Series. It seemed an all too familiar story. An elderly woman was removed from her home and detained unlawfully. The woman’s son objected and was investigated over ‘safeguarding’ allegations. After 16 months the council abandoned the allegations. It was a horrifying abuse of an elderly woman by a local authority.

In several cases where the Witchfinder has been McKenzie Friend, local authorities have retaliated against the family members of service users by bringing long and drawn out investigations and making questionable findings. Councils do have a legitimate role in safeguarding – the hallmarks of an improper investigation are an extremely long period of investigation (itself potentially harmful to the service user) and no interest in procedural safeguards.

Continue reading

Share Button

The One Woman Judge Cardinal Will Not Jail

Hammer of Justice

The British Family Courts are quick to reach for the hammer. Why not use it to protect the right to full disclosure of evidence? Picture via Dreamstime

The Witchfinder examines another disturbing case in which hated circuit Judge, ‘His Honour’ Judge Cardinal withheld vital evidence from a woman desperate to be re-united with her disabled daughter, only to be overturned once again by a higher court.

In Christopher Bond’s well known stage version of Sweeney Todd, there is a character called Judge Turpin. One of the play’s best known scenes has Turpin passing sentence of death on a criminal for repeated crimes. Only once sentence has passed is the identity of the miscreant revealed (in the movie, by a dramatic camera pan). It is a frightened, crying, cowering child.

Of course all fictional characters have a basis in reality and, but for accident of timing, Turpin could have been inspired by the jurisprudence of Birmingham Judge HHJ Cardinal. Regular readers of the Witchfinder will recall Cardinal’s previous works –

  1. sentencing a woman called Wanda Maddocks to prison for (amongst other things) taking her father to see a lawyer, and gagging her (gagging overturned, condemned in Parliament and excoriated in the Daily Mail)
  2. making a wasted costs order against a solicitor acting pro-bono for a vulnerable destitute woman (overturned by the Court of Appeal)

Continue reading

Share Button

A River of Tears

The Witchfinder summarises the evidence from the recent House of Lords Committee on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and points the finger at the Labour politicians responsible for this travesty.

Bleeding Rose

Labour must take responsibility for the immense human suffering caused by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Picture licensed from Dreamstime)

The Witchfinder, under another name, was one of many individuals, professionals and organisations that gave evidence to the ongoing investigation. The evidence has now been published and your humble inquisitor has decided to summarise.

Anyone wishing to read it for themselves can find volumes 1 and 2 on the parliament website –

Volume 1
Volume 2

What is striking is just how loud the chorus of complaints are. Chris Booker of the Telegraph, for example, would be delighted to discover just how many social workers are in total agreement with him about the Act’s inadequacies.

The problem with dry text is the inability to fully convey the human suffering represented by the endless storm of criticism. I quote (for example) Kate Beynon, a social worker in Northamptonshire, “I was involved in a recent CoP case and am very worried that one of the parties was not able to access legal aid, she was in debt and could not afford repayments and yet we were removing her adult son from her care.”

Beynon is quite right – a lot of the Witchfinder’s charity work exists solely because there is negligible legal aid available to families when social services take away adult relatives.

She goes on to mirror the Witchfinder’s suggestion that there be local Mental Capacity tribunals instead of the current Court of Protection, “Why can we not have local Tribunals similar to Mental Health Tribunals?”

Continue reading

Share Button

HMCTS Decide Court of Protection Just Not Kafkaesque Enough

A man behind bars in a balaclava

Bob really should have thought more carefully before being rude to his social worker

Astonishingly, the Court of Protection is considering formally giving social workers the power to declare someone lacking Mental Capacity without pesky doctors getting involved.

It has been a bad few weeks for the Court of Protection. Back in February this blog revealed the sinister jailing of Wanda Maddocks for taking her disabled father to see a lawyer and being rude to social workers. Because of course the most serious threat to the vulnerable today is family members trying to assert their Article 6 Rights and improve their care.

If she had instead groomed him or raped him for years as happened to vulnerable children in Oxford then presumably social services would have turned a blind eye.

The utter head-in-sand-unreasonable refusal of the system to recognise its failings has gone on for years. This blog is largely concerned with the rights of the vulnerable and of course the iniquities of Labour’s outrageous legislation so I was delighted to see recently that Chris Grayling had asked for a review of the powers of the Court of Protection.

Continue reading

Share Button

Bleak House is Not a Book of Instructions

The Witchfinder muses on a case in which a kindly solicitor acting pro-bono was unjustly punished.

Cover of Bleak House

This is the cover of a book by Charles Dickens. It’s … like .. about how *NOT* … to do it. Do not use as a guide to legal practice.

I was flattered when the Daily Mail picked up my story on the jailing of WM – a woman who can now be named as Wanda Maddock. Their work is impressive. However her case is by no means the only injustice perpetrated in the Birmingham Family Courts.

The legal system is undergoing cuts. Not as some left wingers and vested interests say, for the purposes of undermining access to justice nor for some other pernicious reason but instead because this country is short of money. It helps that there are bloated and inefficient reaches of our legal system that may have benefited from a little judicious slashing anyway, but the grim truth is that resources are scarce indeed.

In this new environment where lawyers, like many professionals, must put up with falling revenues those who take time out to do pro-bono work should be praised and recognised.

Sadly, in Birmingham the saying that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ seems to be truer than elsewhere. I write again on the unfortunate topic of HHJ Martin Cardinal. This time I refer to a Court of Appeal case where he was humiliatingly smacked down after wrongfully making a wasted costs order against an innocent solicitor. The judgement is available on BAILII, and is well worth reading. As ever the Witchfinder provides no more information in this article than is available in the public judgement.

Continue reading

Share Button

2000+ Unlawfully Detained. Families of Abuse Victims Condemn Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt. Secretary of State for Health. Image licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0. This permits adaptation. However, the Witchfinder has resisted the temptation to scrawl the obvious four letter word across his forehead.

Catastrophically failing Care Quality Commission admits that thousands of people have been deprived of their liberty in the UK without proper notification – but they do not know who, where, or how many.

CQC admits that at least 7,238 criminal registration offences against vulnerable people have not been prosecuted putting the United Kingdom apparently in violation of the United Nations Optional Convention Against Torture.

CQC Whistleblower Kay Sheldon claims that David Prior, new Chief Executive, told her that she would not be re-appointed. CQC office asked to put allegation to Mr Prior and responds refusing to ‘confirm or deny’ allegation. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has failed to clearly back Mrs Sheldon.

Yvonne Goder of charity FACT, which campaigns for victims against abuse of people without capacity describes Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and responsible for the CQC as ‘morally no different from the abusers at Winterbourne View’ and calls for his immediate sacking from government. Mark Neary, father of Steven Neary agrees with the comparison.

Continue reading

Share Button

Some Cuts are Long Overdue

In the last year the UK Family Courts have been criticised by British MPs and the governments of foreign countries such as Slovakia. The Norgrove Report described it as “a system that is not a system, characterised by mutual distrust and a lack of leadership, by incoherence and without solid evidence based knowledge about how it really works”. Now the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services has joined in the chorus of complaints. The Witchfinder calls for change.

The Government has no money. Thanks to the reckless mismanagement of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair’s discredited government the incoming coalition have been forced to make cut after cut against services that many rely on. Curiously however there is one black pit of government waste that has escaped almost unscathed.

I refer of course to the Family Courts. The existence of such an institution in some form is a necessary evil. As a law student I am often asked for my help and sadly, about 75% of the time on looking at the case I would be driven to make the same decision as the social workers or the judge. The problem is that with the other 25% where the decision was wrong or arguable the system makes it hard to challenge social services or Court decisions. In nearly 100% of the cases it is too slow and vastly too expensive for public and parent alike.

Continue reading

Share Button

The Inadequate Act

The Witchfinder notes recent criticisms of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 by the judiciary.

Burning Money.

Imagine lots and lots of money, burning. This is functionally indistinguishable from imagining a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards case in the Court of Protection.

I like Mr Justice Mostyn – he is one of my favourite judges. This article is about a recent public judgement in which – like many others – he has felt the need to comment about the lack of protections for those subject to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). The Witchfinder includes no information not in the public judgement.

The case concerns the safeguards that should be made available to a mentally incapable man. The nature of the man’s incapacity is not really important. What is important is the way this judgement further throws into sharp relief the inadequacy of the safeguards under the MCA.

In order to make the judgement less dehumanising, Mostyn refers to the man as ‘George’. George is not his real name. Unfortunately it appears that George is a sexual deviant who needs to be confined, strip searched and to have his phone-calls and correspondence monitored for the safety of others.

Continue reading

Share Button