Judge criticises council for treatment of WWII veteran

Family Law|January 22nd 2015

A judge in the Court of Protection has criticised a local council for its “inexcusable” treatment of a 91 year-old who served in World War II.

In Essex County Council v RF & Ors (Deprivation of Liberty and damage), a man only identified as ‘P’ had lived alone with his cat Fluffy since the death of his sister in 1998. As a young man, he served as a gunner in the RAF.

P had a number of health problems including dementia, difficulties with mobility and kidney problems. Due to these problems, he was removed from his home by Essex County Council in May 2013. He was locked in a secure dementia unit and was unable to leave. During his detention, P “was under continuous supervision and control and … consistently expressed a wish to leave and return home”.

A friend of P’s from church took the case to the Court of Protection to challenge the lawfulness of the council’s actions. While P’s niece and nephew believed it was in his best interests to remain in the care home, P’s friends were “of the unanimous view” that he should return home to receive care.

Essex County Council admitted that P’s detention in the care home constituted a breach of his human rights under Articles 5 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. These grant each person the right to liberty, security and respect for their private life.

District Judge Mort said it was “reprehensible” that P had been “unlawfully deprived of his liberty” for between 13 and 17 months. He added that it was “hard to imagine a more depressing and inexcusable state of affairs”. Had it not been for P’s friend, he “may have been condemned to remain [in the care home] for the remainder of his days”, the judge added.

Therefore, he approved an agreement which would see the council pay P £60,000 in damages. They also agreed to waive any fees incurred by P for the duration of his detention.

P has since returned home and reunited with Fluffy.

To read the full judgment, click here.

Photo by ByTheirWorks via Flickr

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