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I trained and qualified as a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, specialising in civil liberties and human rights law in the Public Law & Human Rights department.
I have experience in a variety of civil liberties cases involving claims against the police and local authorities, inquest, judicial review, health and welfare and Court of Protection.
I have recently been appointed as trustee for the Public Law Project, and am a committee member for the South West Court of Protection Practitioners Association.
In October 2016 I was awarded Junior Lawyer of the Year at the Bristol Society Annual Awards.
I act for clients in claims against the police arising out of a variety of situations, such as:
I also bring claims against local authorities where decisions they have made on taking children into care or removing vulnerable adults from their families has amounted to an unlawful deprivation of liberty or an unlawful interference with their right to family life.
I represent families at inquests into the death of a loved one where that death has occurred in police custody, prison or a mental health hospital or where the death has occurred after contact with the police.
I also assisted on the high profile inquest into the death of Lloyd Butler in June 2014. Lloyd died after being inappropriately detained in a police station in Birmingham in 2010 in contradiction of force policy which should have mandated that he be taken straight to hospital. The jury found that Lloyd probably would have survived if taken to hospital.
I act for individuals wishing to challenge decisions made by adult social care and children's services in relation to closure of respite centres, day centres, care homes or withdrawals of services previously provided. This includes considering whether local authorities have complied with their consultation duties, their obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.
I also bring challenges on behalf of individuals who are concerned about cuts to individual care packages or failures relating to provision of children's services under the Children's Act 1989.
I successfully represented the claimant in the case of R (on the application of Hardy) v Sandwell Council in relation to the local authority's decision to take into account the care component of Disability Living Allowance when assessing entitlement to a discretionary housing payment.
I represent family members in court of protection proceedings as well as through the Official Solicitor in health and welfare disputes. This includes best interest decisions on contact, care and residence as well of deprivation of liberty cases.
I worked with Cerebra, a charity for children with neurological difficulties, to review and update two of their key guides for parents:
Fiona is "a safe pair of hands" with "excellent judgement". She is "very bright and capable" - Legal 500, 2017
“The past five years have been a complete nightmare for her. Not knowing what happened to Poppi on that day, and knowing that there were evidence gathering failures by the police in the very early stages of the investigation has made things even worse.
“She is disappointed that Poppi’s father chose to rely on his right not to answer questions which may incriminate him. Whilst she understands he is entitled to do this, she considers that the coroner’s inquiry has been frustrated by this, she considers he should have given the coroner the crucial evidence of Poppi’s last few hours.
“This is now the third time a court has found, on the balance of probabilities, that Poppi was anally penetrated prior to death and my client hopes that the CPS will take another look at this case.
“She is grateful to the coroner for his thoroughness throughout the inquest and she is relieved that despite there being some gaps she is now closer to the truth, even though that truth is devastating.
“She asks that her privacy is respected at this difficult time."
Hearing the evidence presented throughout this inquest has been extremely difficult for Poppi’s mother who is still obviously devastated by her daughter’s death.
She is grateful to the coroner and his inquest team for their thoroughness over the past few weeks and we now await the conclusion in January.
“Cara’s death raised some troubling questions regarding the care she received at Rampton Secure Hospital.
“It is a relief for Deirdre that she now has the answers she has waited so long for, even though they paint a vivid picture of Cara’s last hours at the facility, something that no parent should have to face. Of particular concern to her is the fact that the ward was understaffed on the day of Cara’s death and the impact that may have had on the care which she received.
“We sincerely hope that lessons are now learned so that others don’t suffer as Cara did, or as her family continue to do.”
“Poppi’s mother is understandably both distressed and disappointed by the CPS’s decision not to bring a prosecution regarding her death.
“She has always been anxious to know exactly what happened to Poppi on the day of her death as well as to secure justice for her little girl.
“She hopes that an inquest, which was delayed while the CPS examined its decision, will shed some light on Poppi’s injuries and create a path to justice so her daughter can finally be at peace.”
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