Mathieu Culverhouse, a specialist human rights solicitor from Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law & Human Rights department, has helped a family win its right for justice after a boy – known only as C, was ‘unlawfully’ treated at a specialist school.
The mother of C approached experts at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors to represent her in court proceedings, after being ignored by officials when she showed her concern over the poor treatment of C at the school. It became clear that her severely autistic son was being locked away in a padded ‘Blue Room’ more than six times a day to control his behaviour.
The judge thought it was appropriate for the anonymity order against the organisations responsible for C’s poor care to be cancelled.
C attended a school for young people with learning difficulties, which was overseen by Wigan Borough Council. The Council has been named as the local authority concerned in the Court of Protection case, which concluded that it was wrong to lock C away several times a day.
Progress Since Mistreatment
Despite such poor treatment, C’s mother has said that he has made ‘remarkable’ progress since winning the family’s battle. C went through a harrowing ordeal. However, he now enjoys walks in the countryside and is using transport to take part in activities such as swimming. Both his attention span and vocabulary have shown a great improvement and he has even started to laugh again.
Commenting on the case, C’s mother has said: “This entire period has been extremely traumatic for my sons and I and it’s with a feeling of immense joy and relief that we feel C can now begin to lead the fulfilling and enjoyable life he should have done previously.
"It is a sad situation that the very people we should have been working in co-operation with in order to provide the best care for him are the ones that let us down and failed to meet their minimum duty of care to him.
"The ‘professionals’ within the named organisations each had the authority to halt the tragic existence of my sons’ incarceration within the Blue Room, but failed in their duty to do so over a considerable period of time.
"His elder brother and I have witnessed the practice of seclusion enough to know that it is unnatural, particularly cruel to someone with the diagnosis of C and serves only to dehumanize. There should be no place for its use in 21st century ‘care’.
"I just hope that others in an extremely vulnerable position may be spared the harm that he was forced to endure and we were forced to witness prior to the judgment."
Lessons To Be Learned
Mathieu Culverhouse, specialist solicitor in cases associated to the human rights of vulnerable members of society at Irwin Mitchell, helped the family win its battle for justice.
He said: "His life has dramatically improved and it’s a triumph for C, the family and the Judiciary who were involved in this case to hear that he is now enjoying his life.
"This shocking case is one in which the responsible authorities failed to obtain the legal authorisation needed to deprive someone of their liberty.
"It’s clear from the progress C has made that the unlawful treatment he was receiving was not working. Thankfully now, C is beginning to move on from his ordeal and the family can enjoy time with him."
Mathieu added: "A large number of families and individuals rely heavily on the care provided by specialist homes, hospitals and school, so it is crucial that important lessons are learnt from the failings identified in this case.
"The most vulnerable members of society must have access to the care and support which is best suited to their needs and we will continue to fight for justice on behalf of our clients.
"I hope that this case serves as guidance to all professionals across the county to ensure that no individuals or families face the same problems as C in the future. Proper planning with expert advice could well have avoided the distress which was evident in this case substantially affecting both C’s and his family’s lives."
For expert advice on matters relating to mental capacity, the Court of Protection and deprivation of liberty, please contact Mathieu Culverhouse of Irwin Mitchell's Public Law & Human Rights team on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form.
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