Help Protect Our Vulnerable Children - Stage Two

by Rosa Monckton, Caroline Hopton, Simon Mottram

Help Protect Our Vulnerable Children - Stage Two

by Rosa Monckton, Caroline Hopton, Simon Mottram
Rosa Monckton, Caroline Hopton, Simon Mottram
Case Owner
When our vulnerable, learning disabled children turned 18 we, as loving parents, no longer retained the legal right to make important decisions about their welfare. We’re taking action to change this.
Funded
on 14th December 2018
£14,055
pledged of £20,000 stretch target from 180 pledges
Rosa Monckton, Caroline Hopton, Simon Mottram
Case Owner
When our vulnerable, learning disabled children turned 18 we, as loving parents, no longer retained the legal right to make important decisions about their welfare. We’re taking action to change this.

Latest: Sept. 6, 2019

Thank You!

Dear valued supporters

Just before we close this page, we would like again to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of this hugely important campaign and, of...

Read more

Since our first CrowdJustice campaign in support of our case to clarify the law on welfare deputyship we've made a huge amount of progress and we couldn't have got this far without the hundreds of CrowdJustice backers who have joined this fight. 

Since March we have used the money raised from our campaign to pay the legal fees attached to our case, which have included:

  • Instructing our barrister Victoria Butler-Cole to advise on the case generally, prepare our detailed legal submissions, and to attend court before the Vice President of the Court of Protection in November;
  • Drafting three applications, including capacity assessments, to appoint the family members as welfare deputies;
  • Drafting witness statements from the proposed deputies and statements in support from family members and others involved in caring for the young adults;
  • Build a body of evidence from recognised experts, including assisting them to draft witness statements which we have filed at court;
  • Preparing as part of our submissions an analysis of court statistics as to the current approach towards applications for welfare deputyship, and evidence from other lawyers and groups as to their experiences;
  • Taking and filing at court a video of each of the 3 young adults to show the court their views and wishes
  • Preparing a full court bundle and providing copies to the Official Solicitor so that their QC can confirm their position ahead of the final hearing in March

As interest in and awareness of the case has increased so has the length of the final hearing along with the requisite preparation and representation we require to change the law for families like ours across the country. We need to ask for your support again to cover our extended three-day final hearing in March. Please contribute what you can and most importantly spread the word about this critical case.

Like thousands of families across the UK, our children, now young adults, have learning disabilities and lack the mental capacity to make important life decisions for themselves. 

We love our children and want to continue to take care of them and make decisions about their welfare, where they lack the capacity to make the decision themselves, but as the law currently stands, we can't. This is a hugely important issue and affects parents and vulnerable young people across the UK.

Since March 2018 we have been fighting to change the law for all parents in our position, who need to continue to safeguard their vulnerable children into adulthood. The status we must achieve, through the Court of Protection, is legally defined as deputyship, which is currently only granted in "the most difficult cases".

Case Current Status

Before issuing the case we were able to obtain, using the funds raised from CrowdJustice, a significant amount of evidence in support of our case including statements in support of the application from Dr Lucy Series, lecturer in law in the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University and a respected commentator on the Mental Capacity Act (see her blog at http://thesmallplaces.wordpress.com)  and from Dan Scorer, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Mencap.

The case was delayed over the summer due to the change in the President and the Vice President of the Court of Protection, but we are delighted to say that the Judges realized the importance of the issues we are raising, and there was an initial hearing before Mr Justice Hayden, the new Vice President of the Court of Protection, in late November 2018.  The Vice President agreed that the issue needs to be resolved, and listed a 3 day final hearing, reserved to himself, which has now been confirmed to take place on 25-27 March 2019.  We expect to receive a long written judgment shortly after the hearing. 

Given the importance of the matter, it was also ordered that the Official Solicitor be appointed as an advocate to the court.  The Official Solicitor has decided to instruct a leading QC to advise him on the case.

Media Coverage

There has also been a fantastic amount of media coverage of the case already, with Rosa alongside our solicitor Alex Rook appearing on Radio 4, and a number of articles written about the case.

We therefore want to take this opportunity to once again thank our many supporters, because we could not have achieved this without you, and also to see if we can ask for your further support to get the outcome that we all want to see. 

How much are we raising now and what for?

We had not expected the court to list the matter for 3 days (we budgeted on the basis of a 1 day hearing), and now that the Official Solicitor is involved with a QC we are expecting significant additional costs to be incurred in responding to their points and making sure that our arguments are successful. 

We have therefore set up a new round of fundraising, in order to cover us all the way to the final hearing.  We are seeking to raise another £20,000, which includes all the solicitors and barrister costs for the 3 day hearing.

You can view our first CrowdJustice campaign here








CASE BACKGROUND SUMMARY:

The Mental Capacity Act is not clear about when a deputy will be appointed.  The Code of Practice, which is used to assist in interpreting the Act, states that only in the "most difficult cases" will a deputy be appointed.

We think that this is totally wrong and that judges need to make the law clear.

We will argue, rather than only appointing a deputy in the "most difficult cases", the Court should adopt a test that flows directly from the Act, considering what is in the young person’s best interests, with a particular emphasis on what the young person wants, We believe that in most cases, the young person would want a deputy to be appointed to make decisions from among his or her close family, rather than by consensus involving professionals who often hardly know the individual .  We think the test should be the same for both welfare and financial deputyship decisions, rather than a stricter test for welfare decisions as it is now

OUR PERSONAL STORIES:

Caroline's story:

I am a single mother of two sons with autism whom I wholly adore.  I have advocated for my sons all of their lives.  They are an inspiration to me on every level and I admire their bravery and resolve in dealing with the every day challenges they both face.

This story focusses on particular events concerning my younger son who is 18.  He  has a severe learning disability and relies on others for his care and safety.   He is non-verbal which causes him to suffer from heightened anxiety and, in addition, has sensory and eating issues associated with his condition.  Putting his disability to one side, people are drawn to his fun, cheeky and infectious personality.  He is adept with a ball and shows incredible ability when it comes to his personal interests, one of which is teaching himself the names of colours in different languages.

During his early teens, my son's needs became so significant that I was forced to make the hardest decision of my life and place him in residential care.  At the same time, however, I was excited for him and believed that a specialist and structured learning environment would help him gain greater independence and ultimately, happiness and fulfilment.  I knew it was going to be hard having him away from home but I was certainly not prepared for the events that emerged over the next four years.

There were some exceptional care staff at the facility, however, there were many, in my opinion, who lacked the ability and caring nature to assist vulnerable people.  Over an extended period of time I voiced my many concerns but to no avail.  A series of dreadful events ensued including maltreatment of my son, attacks on him and serious unexplained bruising which culminated in a police investigation.  Sadly, due to lack of evidence, the case was closed and nobody was held accountable for my son's injuries.

My only option, at this time, was to carefully source an alternative residence.  Naturally I was concerned for my son but had to believe the new home would be different; it certainly promised great things.  However, shortly after he moved into the new facility, there were events involving the care of my son that shook me to the core.  I am presently unable to give further details as another police investigation is underway.

My son is now living at home and it is imperative that I gain welfare deputyship status in order that I can advocate for him going forward.  The changes to my son's anxiety levels and general demeanour, since he has returned home, speak volumes.  I not only feel that I have my son back in person but also in spirit.

These and other experiences have taught me so much about the system of care in this country and I am severely concerned for the futures of both of my sons and others in the same position. To this end, I have founded a registered charity to assist this growing group of vulnerable young adults.

Please help us to bring about change by supporting our cause on deputyship.  So many will benefit from the review of a law that, simply, does not serve those it is designed to protect.

Rosa's story:

My daughter Domenica, who is 23, has Down's Syndrome.

Chronologically Domenica may be 23 but mentally she still functions very much like a child.  Under the eyes of the law, Domenica and so many young adults like her are assumed to have the mental capacity to make their own decisions, unless they are assessed as lacking the capacity to do so: decisions about how they live, about where they live, about how they spend their days.  In many cases, when assessments of their capacity and best interests for these life-changing decisions are made, parents are unaware, not invited or even asked not to be in the same room.

When my eldest daughter, Savannah, was making decisions about what universities to apply for, what she should study and where she should live, we sat down as a family and to help her make these decisions.  I would like to be able to do this for, and with, Domenica.  I do not understand why it should be necessary for me, a responsible and loving parent, to have to go to court and show that our case is exceptional for the right to do what is best for my child.

I have been an advocate for people with learning disabilities for twenty years and have received hundreds of emails from distraught parents, recounting how terrible decisions have been made for their children and how they, as parents, were impotent, sidelined and ignored.

I am bringing this case to the courts not just for Domenica but for all those parents who don't have a voice, yet who are united in the extraordinary love they have for their children and who know, better than any organisation, what is right for them.

Let compassion and common sense prevail.

Simon's story:

As well as autism, our 22 year old son suffers from severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and anaphylaxis.  He is non-verbal, hyperactive, has no concept of danger and little understanding of the world around him.  Despite these very serious challenges, he continues to be brave, charismatic, endlessly patient and a huge giver of joy.

Like many parents with a profoundly disabled child, we have made it our mission to create around him a world that makes him feel valued, where he can learn and increase his independence and experience some of the pleasures that life has to offer.  We have met many wonderful people along the way, but also had to fight hard, often with public bodies whose apparent lack of care has sometimes led to despair on our side.  It is only through our persistence to fight on and communicate our son's extremely complex needs that his needs are being met today.

But none of this prepared us for the difficulties we have encountered in transitioning our son to adult services whilst simultaneously moving him from his much-loved college to a provision that can meet his needs.  With apparently little regard to their own care plans, and dismissing all offers to help in every possible way, we feel that attempts are being made to reduce his support to the point where he will be at huge risk.  The decision-makers don't know our son at all, in many cases have never met him, and our 22 years of experience and accumulated knowledge seem to count for very little.

It is this, and the knowledge that thousands of other people are in a similar position, that has prompted us to bring this action.  We cannot continue with a system that allows parents, with all their expert knowledge, to be side-lined.  A need to protect the most vulnerable in society is something that most of us feel very strongly about and it is not happening at the moment.







Get updates about this case

Subscribe to receive email updates from the case owner on the latest news about the case.

Recent contributions

Be a promoter

Your share on Facebook could raise £26 for the case

I'll share on Facebook
Update 2

Rosa Monckton, Caroline Hopton, Simon Mottram

Sept. 6, 2019

Thank You!

Dear valued supporters

Just before we close this page, we would like again to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of this hugely important campaign and, of course, for your generous donations.

As a summary of the long-awaited judgment from our High Court hearing in March, we would like to share the following with you together with links to take you to the full judgment and also a summary from our Lawyer, Alex Rook of Irwin Mitchell LLP.

We are generally extremely pleased with the outcome of the challenge which, as you will recall, was to have the judge review the wording in the Code of Practice which states Welfare Deputyship should only be appointed in “the most difficult cases”.  After analysing the law in great detail, Mr Justice Hayden concluded that the starting point of evaluating any application for appointment of a Welfare Deputy, should be without any statutory bias or presumption against the appointment and to this end, concluded that the wording of The Code of Practice (“in the most difficult cases”) “requires to be revisited”.

In an excellent article in The Sunday Times of June 30th 2019, Dominic Lawson summed up our initial feelings on the wording “requires to be revisited”:

“When we received the full judgment on Monday (two days before it was made public), I was concerned that Hayden’s terminology – “requires to be revisited” – was too obscure to compel change.  So, I was relieved that a commentary for the Mental Capacity Law and Policy website pronounced the judgment to have definitely decided that “the code of practice is wrong insofar as it suggests that personal welfare deputies should only be appointed in the most difficult cases”.  And the remarkable solicitor who had driven this case, Alex Rook of Irwin Mitchell, told me on the day after the judgment that he had already heard from a Court of Protection judge that Hayden’s judgment “will result in an increasing number of successful applications from parents or relatives seeking to become welfare deputy”.

Following Mr Lawson’s article, a warming letter was published in The Sunday Times from Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury, who fully supported our reasoning behind the campaign and was delighted at the outcome.

In closing, we would also like to sincerely thank Alex Rook, our lawyer from Irwin Mitchell, London and our Barrister, Tor Butler-Cole.  Without them too, this historical case could not have happened.  We are all so thrilled that now future court hearings will refer to “Re Lawson, Mottram and Hopton (appointment of personal welfare deputies) [2019] EWCOP 22.

From here we three families will submit our own applications for Welfare Deputyship, on behalf of our loved ones, and are relieved to know that now the starting point of any application will be viewed without bias or presumption that it will only be granted “in the most difficult cases”.

With all our best wishes

Caroline, Rosa and Simon

The full judgment can be found here. Or read the summary below: 


Update 1

Rosa Monckton, Caroline Hopton, Simon Mottram

April 5, 2019

Update; Our long-awaited hearing!

Update on Help Protect Our Vulnerable Children

 

To all our valued supporters


As you may have heard, we attended our long awaited hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London’s Strand, last week.  We would sincerely like to thank you all for helping us get there; we could not have done this without you.  


The hearing garnered much media interest and had press coverage in The Times, The Daily Mail, on metro.co.uk and, in addition, we did radio interviews for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Berkshire.  We have had further interest from national television but have reserved this until judgment on the case is received.


The hearing lasted for two days and we wish to extend our wholehearted thanks to our amazing legal team at Irwin Mitchell, London and Barrister Tor Butler-Cole QC for so expertly presenting our case.  The Official Solicitor, Advocate to the Court, was also present and while he had some opposing views on the case, we feel that in a way this was positive as every angle of the case was explored.  Caroline Hopton was also called to give evidence relating to her son Oliver and again, we believe that this was a good outcome which enabled her to represent all families in the same position from a ‘human’ perspective, rather than solely from a legal point of view.


We now await the judgment which we hope will be announced within the next four weeks or so.  We will, of course, update you as soon as we hear.


As you know, the importance of this case is paramount and we truly hope for a positive result for all.  Again, thank you so much for your invaluable support.


With warmest wishes


Caroline, Rosa and Simon

Team 3forall

Get updates about this case

Subscribe to receive email updates from the case owner on the latest news about the case.

    There are no public comments on this case page.