Father of autistic man unlawfully deprived of his liberty speaks to Lords Committee

08 November 2013


Mark Neary, father of Steven Neary, will tell the House of Lords Committee charged with investigating the Mental Capacity Act 2005, how the London Borough of Hillingdon failed to comply with the Act, unlawfully depriving his son of his liberty for nearly a year

Steven had been taken into care by Hillingdon Council in what his father believed to be a temporary measure.  However, the council believed that Steven needed an extended stay in their care and, as ruled by the Court of Protection, unlawfully deprived him of his liberty from January 2010 until December the same year.

The Committee will explore with Mr Neary why, even in light of his experience of very poor practice with regard to the Act and in particular the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS), he still supports it, and what lessons he believes can be learnt from his experience. He will be joined in his session, at 11.40am, by Elmari Bishop, Mental Capacity Act/DOLS Lead at the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT).

Beforehand, at 10.40am, the Committee will have the opportunity to quiz a legal panel, comprising of:

  • Alex Rook, Partner, Public Law Department and Julia Lomas, Partner, National Head of Court Protection Department at Irwin Mitchell LLP;
  • Alex Ruck Keene, Barrister, 39 Essex Street Chambers; and
  • Michael Mylonas QC, Barrister, Serjeants’ Inn Chambers.

The Committee will ask the witnesses if there are sufficient protections within the Mental Capacity Act, the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian against financial or other abuse of those who lack capacity; whether costs or lack of legal aid stop people from accessing the Court of Protection and if the reforms of the Court of Protection proposed by the President of the Family Division will have a positive impact on the experiences of individuals and families.

The evidence sessions will take place at 10.40 am on Tuesday 12 November in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

The session will be webcast at Parliament TV website and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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