Friday, April 26, 2013
The East German mentality of the British bureaucracy
Agony of woman jailed in secret: Daughter locked up for trying to save father from care home tells of terrifying police swoop
A woman imprisoned by a secret court yesterday described the shocking moment police descended on her father's care home to `cart me off to jail'.
Wanda Maddocks was sentenced for trying to remove her father John from a home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.
But she was not present in court, nor was she represented by a lawyer, when the judgment was made - and her sentencing was not made public for six months.
Miss Maddocks, 50, is believed to be the first person to be jailed by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of those too ill to make their own decisions.
Last night the case was at the centre of a furious row over behind-closed-doors justice as MPs condemned the secrecy of the court that jailed Miss Maddocks.
She was visiting her frail father when officers arrived to break the news that she had been sentenced to five months in prison.
She said: `I walked out of the care home and saw a small white van, then two female police officers approached me with two court officers. `They told me I had been sentenced to jail for contempt of court. I couldn't believe it.
`They told me it was almost unheard of for somebody to be jailed like that in a civil hearing without first being given the chance to explain themselves.'
Miss Maddocks served six weeks in Foston Hall - the women's jail in Derbyshire which was home to Maxine Carr, girlfriend of Soham killer Ian Huntley - following her arrest in September.
The Court of Protection had originally ruled that Mr Maddocks, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, must stay in the care home in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, because the plans for his care put forward by his children were considered inadequate.
It argued there was no choice but to take control of his affairs when he was found collapsed in his home by his carers. The council also deny he was badly treated during his stay in several care homes.
What has angered the family and open justice campaigners, however, is the draconian way in which Miss Maddocks was treated and the fact the secretive court was able to send her to jail.
Yesterday Miss Maddocks, a property developer, whose home is in the Turkish holiday resort of Fethiye, said: `I spent two weeks in the remand section and was then transferred to the main jail. I was ganged up on by the other inmates and one woman rushed at me and hit me.
`She did it because she thought I was lying about my reasons for being incarcerated. She couldn't believe I could have been jailed over something so petty, as she called it.'
Miss Maddocks added: `If my case had been in the public domain the judge would never have dared to jail me. There would have been uproar.
The Human Rights Act is supposed to guarantee everybody the right to a family life. It is the council and the court who have broken my father's human rights, not me.'
She said that while in Foston Hall she became too scared to ring her father, a painter and decorator who ran his own business, while in prison, out of fear of somehow breaking the restrictions designed to keep the case secret.
`The court paperwork threatened to seize the family's assets if we spoke to the press or anybody else about this,' she said. `I was terrified. I eventually called my father after almost two months, to tell him I would soon be released, and he was crying his eyes out. He was heartbroken because he was missing me so much.'
She said the family were told that social services would agree to Mr Maddocks leaving the care home only if she and his three other children - Ivan, 55, Wayne, 54, and Eden, 49 - could submit an acceptable `care package' to the court.
The care package had to explain how they would divide responsibility for looking after Mr Maddocks, who needed continual care, what food they would provide for him and any outside help they could call on, such as carers. But she said the judge turned down four separate submissions.
Judge Martin Cardinal sentenced Miss Maddocks at the Court of Protection in Birmingham after hearing that she had repeatedly broken orders not to interfere with her father's life at the care home.
He found that she had helped take her father to a court hearing and had also taken him to see a solicitor; that she had tried to publicise the case; that she had left offensive messages for social workers; and that she had given the 80-year-old former painter and decorator a wooden cross to ward off evil at his care home.
The judge said she had `the attitude of someone who is simply not going to obey court orders'.
Miss Maddocks took her father to Turkey while he was subject to an order to remain in his care home and she acknowledged yesterday that she had left a message on a social worker's voicemail.
But she claimed the end of her father's life had been hastened by being `held prisoner' in care and claimed it was likely he would still be alive today if she had been allowed to move her father to live with her in Fethiye. `We were all stunned at how quickly he had deteriorated,' she said of her father, who died in January.
Miss Maddocks said her jail sentence was outrageous and added: `I have had a successful career as a businesswoman and have never been in trouble. `Why should I have to go through all this just to get my father back?'
Stoke-on-Trent councillor Gwen Hassall said: `This is clearly an extreme case, but one that the Court of Protection supported the council on. It was the court's decision to issue a custodial sentence to Wanda Maddocks.
`Our chief concern was always centred around the welfare of her father, who was suffering from a deteriorating condition and required 24-hour supervision in a stable environment.
This was a decision reached by medical consultants, geriatricians, social workers, community psychiatric nurses, dieticians, consultant health and nursing professionals and others who were involved in assessing his needs.'
Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who was first alerted to the case, called for new laws to ensure courts cannot sentence people to prison in secret. He said his own private member's bill had been blocked by the Government.
`My bill would have made sure that we know about jailings in the secret courts by making sure that details are made available. We then could know if the courts are behaving properly in our name.
Lord McNally, the Lib Dem Justice Minister, instructed the whips to squash the bill and keep secret jailings secret.
`Thanks to the hard work of the Daily Mail we now know that the courts are locking people up for getting legal advice for family members. This just cannot be right.'
Chris Skidmore, a Tory MP who sits on the Health Select Committee said: `Without commenting on the specifics of this case, it cannot be right that local authorities and council bureaucrats should run roughshod over the lives of individuals and their families.
`At the centre of elderly care must be the concept that families and loved ones must have a right to care and look after the best interests of patients, whatever their condition.'
Former care minister Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat, said outcome of the court case seemed an `extreme conclusion'.
He said: `The Court of Protection had a vital role to play in protecting the best interests of people who can't make decisions for themselves, for example dementia suffers.
`The law does provide for families to exercise decision making authority. The Court should be there to ensure people are safe, treated with dignity and are not deprived of their liberty.
`This is a very hard case and it is far from clear how the court, the council and the care home let events come to such an extreme conclusion.'
John Maddocks was being held in a care home against his families wishes under the Labour government's Mental Capacity Act
There the family claim Mr Maddocks stopped eating after being bullied by a male staff member, who would send him to his room as a punishment.
A spokesman for the home denied it had caused the death of Mr Maddocks.
`We are saddened by the allegations from the family and strongly refute them,' he added. `Mr Maddocks was seen by the GP and other medical professionals on five separate occasions over his 25 day stay.
`Everyone involved in his care was aware of his complex medical conditions and he was fully supported with these. When he arrived he was already a very ill man.'
Gwen Hassall, from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: `We are saddened to hear that the family have made allegations about the quality of care provided to Mr Maddocks, and take those allegations very seriously.
A post mortem examination revealed that Mr Maddocks died of natural causes, with Alzheimer's dementia and type II diabetes as contributory factors.
He was cared for at well-respected health facilities and centres which specialise in supporting people with dementia.'
Men could be convicted of rape 'even if the woman agrees to have sex'
A court headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, ruled in a sign-post decision that a man would still be guilty if he did something she asked him not to.
The High Court ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to think again over a decision not to prosecute a man accused of raping his wife.
The woman had consented to sex, but only on condition that her husband withdrew as she did not want to become pregnant.
However, at the last minute he told her he was not withdrawing and told her 'because you are my wife and I'll do it if I want'.
The woman who did not want another child become pregnant after the incident in February 2010.
In his landmark decision Lord Judge ruled that because the man, the woman's husband under Sharia law, did not stick to his part of the pre-sex deal he could, in the eyes of the law, be held guilty of rape.
The judges said she 'was deprived of choice relating to the crucial feature on which her original consent to sexual intercourse was based'.
Granting a judicial review of the decision not to prosecute, the Lord Judge said that the woman's consent was 'negated' by the man's failure to withdraw.
He said that the woman's essential evidence was that after her Islamic marriage to the man in November 2009 their relationship was marred by his abusive dominance.
Lord Judge said that men who tried in vain to withdraw in time should not be pursued for rape, adding: `These things happen - they always have and they always will. `No offence is committed when they do. They underline why withdrawal is not a safe method of contraception.'
In May 2010 she rang a rape phone line and made a formal complaint to the police about rape and sexual assault, but the DPP took the decision not to prosecute.
Catholic midwives in Scotland told they won't have to supervise staff taking part in abortions after winning court battle
Two Catholic midwives have today won a landmark court battle for the right to refuse any involvement in abortion procedures.
Mary Doogan, 58, and Connie Wood, 52, argued that being required to supervise staff involved in abortions was a violation of their human rights.
As conscientious objectors, the women had no direct role in pregnancy terminations, but claimed they should also be able to refuse to support staff taking part in the procedures.
The women took their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but lost last year.
But three appeal judges at the same court today ruled that their appeal should succeed. 'In our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose,' ruled Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lords Mackay and McEwan.
The health board noted the decision and said it would be considering its options with its legal advisers.
Ms Doogan and Ms Wood were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.
At the time of the original ruling, Ms Doogan had been absent from work due to ill health since March 2010 and Ms Wood had been transferred to other work.
Both women, practising Roman Catholics, registered their conscientious objection to participation in pregnancy terminations years ago, as allowed by the Abortion Act, but became concerned when all medical terminations were moved to the labour ward in 2007.
They argued that before that they were not called on to delegate, supervise or support staff treating or caring for patients undergoing termination procedures - a stance disputed by the health board.
They said the supervision and support of staff providing care to women having an abortion did amount to 'participation in treatment' and breached their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. They raised a petition for a judicial review at the court, which was refused last year by judge Lady Smith.
She found that the women were sufficiently removed from involvement in pregnancy terminations to afford them appropriate respect for their beliefs.
The midwives said at the time that they were 'very disappointed' by the decision, and appealed against that ruling.
During the hearing earlier this year, Gerry Moynihan QC, representing the women, suggested that their consciences should determine what tasks they undertake.
He told the court: 'The dividing line ought to be the individual's conscience, not a bureaucrat saying what is within the literal meaning of the word `participation' or not.'
The health board argued that the right of conscientious objection was a right only to refuse to take part in activities that directly brought about the termination of a pregnancy, and was not available to the pair in respect of their duties of delegation, supervision and support.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said in a statement: 'We note the outcome of the appeal and will be considering our options with our legal advisers over the next few days.'
The midwives' appeal was supported by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which welcomed today's decision.
In a statement released by the society, Ms Wood and Ms Doogan said: 'Connie and I are absolutely delighted with today's judgment from the Court of Session, which recognises and upholds our rights as labour ward midwifery sisters to withdraw from participating in any treatment that would result in medical termination of pregnancy.
'In holding all life to be sacred from conception to natural death, as midwives we have always worked in the knowledge we have two lives to care for throughout labour; a mother and that of her unborn child.
'Today's judgment is a welcome affirmation of the rights of all midwives to withdraw from a practice that would violate their conscience and which over time, would indeed debar many from entering what has always been a very rewarding and noble profession. It is with great relief we can now return to considerations that are all to do with childbirth and midwifery practice and less to do with legal matters.'
The midwives also thanked 'the many individuals the length and breadth of Britain and, indeed, further afield' who have supported them throughout the dispute.
Health and safety nonsense revealed: Shredded paper and toothpicks banned
Bar staff banned from serving pints in traditional handled beer mugs, toothpicks removed from tables, and a six-year-old told she couldn't have a bubble machine at her party. These are just a few of the bizarre rules imposed under the guise of `health and safety'.
A school banned shredded paper in a lucky dip stall, while a hotel said it couldn't serve burgers rare.
A taskforce set up to weed out poor use of health and safety laws found a host of examples in its first year.
It investigated 150 cases - including a hotel which told a chamber maid she could not make up a cot bed.
The ridiculous bans were revealed by Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who heads a team which looks at cases where `health and safety' is cited for bogus reasons.
She called on those making daft decisions to own up to their real motives. `We never cease to be amazed by the cases we consider,' she said.
`Why on earth do people think they can get away with banning pint glasses with handles, bubbles at a birthday party, or burgers served anything other than well done, claiming they are a health and safety hazard?
`The reality is people hide behind "health and safety" when there are other reasons for what they're doing - fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It's time for them to own up to their real motives.'
She added: `We're helping people to fight back - and I'm delighted to hear of cases of our panel making jobsworths admit they're wrong.'
The HSE's panel welcomes examples from the public of the barmy use of health and safety legislation.
In one example, Joel Gordon, 42, of Glossop in Derbyshire, told the panel that a hotel restaurant would not let him have a toothpick in case he stabbed his mouth. He said: `I'm a grown adult - I'll take the risk. It was nonsense.'
Employment minister Mark Hoban said: `I despair when I read cases like these. Health and safety is to protect people from serious risks, not to be abused by jobsworths who stop people getting on with their lives.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.