Grayling Ends the Gravy Train

Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice. Image via Open Government Licence v1.0

Hooray for Chris Grayling. The well respected Justice Secretary has upset a number of people this week by his proposals to kick over the judicial review gravy train. The Witchfinder on the other hand wants to shake him by the hand. As a law student your author knows all too well how the courts can be abused, and whilst he is all for access to justice he is compelled to support Grayling’s well thought through proposals.

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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.

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Rest in Peace Margaret Thatcher

The Witchfinder praises Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, especially her less well known work helping the vulnerable.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher (image via Wikimedia Commons)

It feels slightly strange, writing a eulogy for Baroness Thatcher. Until I left Labour in 2008, it was inconceivable. My family are three generations Labour – I am a lone blue rose amongst crimson thorns. At university I was a Labour student, inculcated in their doctrines of hate towards anyone, even within the same party, who disagreed with their views.

I also initially felt under-qualified to comment being only a newcomer to the Conservative Party as of 2009. However there is one area for which Mrs Thatcher deserves praise but has received relatively little and of which I have specialist knowledge. As a law student one of my specialist interests is assisting those alleged to lack mental capacity, or their families. I have assisted people in the High Court and been allowed occasionally to exercise rights of audience as a McKenzie Friend.

The Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. It comes to mind because its effectiveness as kind but pragmatic legislation is highlighted in comparison to Labour’s cack-handed car-crash of a law, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) introduced by Tony Blair’s government. Both do the same job, essentially dealing with compulsory intervention in the lives of people with mental illness or disability.

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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.

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