QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
(Sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court)
| THE QUEEN
on the application of
|- and -
|LONDON BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK
Mr Donald Broatch (instructed by Legal Services Dept, Southwark LBC) for the Defendant
Hearing date: 28 June 2016
Crown Copyright ©
Ms Amanda Yip QC:
"there has been no material change in circumstances and the facts which led to the decision that she is not in priority need."
"There are no unstable psychotic tendencies or active suicidal thoughts to consider that would prompt emergency or enhanced psychiatric care."
He concluded that the claimant was not significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person. He did indicate that he would happily review the case should any further psychiatric reports become available.
"On my review of the information I still prefer the patient account records of the GP to both opinions but note that the opinion of the professional that has not met or examined Ms Hoyte appears closer to the records held in the GP summary. For example it appears consistent in the records that there is no active suicidal plan or risk within the GP records but it was considered that Ms Hoyte was a high suicide risk in the report of 21 September 2015. Pre the meeting of 8 September 2015 with Dr Shuttleworth and post the meeting Ms Hoyte had contact with her surgery and the aspect of the report on suicidal intentions and risk appear extremely different."
The letter went on to accept that Mr Shuttleworth had formed the opinion that he had but referred to an entry made by the G.P. on 21st October 2015 following an examination of Mrs Hoyte which included:
"NO thoughts / plans dSH. Children and Grandchildren protective factor."
[I understand the letters DSH in medical records to refer to deliberate self harm.]
The letter went on:
"Whilst all matters may not be discussed with a GP, I am of the view that it has been recorded by the GP who has regular consultation and examination of their patients and I am satisfied that the opinion logged on the patient notes reflects the view of the GP."
"My view after the consultation is, Jennifer is suffering from depression. She is very low in mood and has active suicidal thoughts with plausible evidence of plan and intent. Her current stressor is undeniably her accommodation situation. The threat of eviction in under a week with no viable option to street-homelessness is clearly a huge stressor. She reports continuous thoughts about ending her life."
"This is due to the fact that whilst it may be the case that your client made a visit to her GP after the review decision was issued, who in turn referred her for further treatment, the fact that she has a history of suicidal ideation was previously known to us as well as the fact she has a history of suffering from other mental health problems, including depression."
The defendant therefore refused to take a fresh homeless application from the claimant. It is that refusal which is challenged.
The statutory and legal framework
"although authorities should look for and pay close regard to medical evidence submitted in support of applicants' claims of vulnerability on account of mental illness or handicap, it is for it, not medical experts, to determine the statutory issue of vulnerability."
"would not be entitled to investigate the accuracy of the alleged new facts before deciding whether to treat the application as valid, even where there may be reason to suspect the accuracy of the allegations."
Such an investigation would fall foul of the disapproval of non-statutory inquiries.
"Because time has passed, the facts will never be precisely the same. To remove all and any entitlement to investigate the contents of an application form would be to encourage bogus claims, to the detriment of applicants generally. I would maintain some entitlement to inquire into the contents of the form with a view to deciding whether a relevant new matter can realistically be asserted to be present."
The parties' submissions
"What must be addressed is whether the actual facts disclosed by the third application, are or are not "exactly the same" as the facts disclosed at the time of the review decision on the second application."
In considering what is meant there by facts "disclosed", I look to paragraph 6.8 where the defendant contends:
"It is the "facts" behind the application which must be considered, rather than the evidence adduced in support of those facts. Fresh evidence, or additional evidence, showing the same facts as previously existed is insufficient. Such evidence would be confirmatory and merely "more of the same". A claimed new fact must be one which can "realistically be asserted."
(Mr Broatch relied for the last point on the judgment of Pill LJ in Rikha Begum.)
Analysis and conclusions
"the actual facts when the earlier application was determined (or reviewed) rather than the facts as they were alleged to be on the date he or she made the application."