42-49 High Holborn
London WC1V 6PN
B e f o r e :
PO Box 1336, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey KT1 1QT
Tel No: 020 8974 7300 Fax No: 020 8974 7301
Miss Hewson (instructed by Fisher Meredith Solicitors)appeared on behalf of the Mother
Mr J Green (instructed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors)appeared on behalf of the Second Defendant
Mr Bagchi (instructed by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors)appeared on behalf of the Third Defendant
Mr Mullins (instructed by Steel and Shamash Solicitors)appeared on behalf of the Fourth Defendant
Miss Scott (instructed by Guile Nicholas Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Fifth Defendant
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE SUMNER:
"It is clearly evident from her past history that she has been manipulated with regards to her personal life, as well as financial matters. It was also evident from the assessment that she is easily suggestible. When asked about her understanding of marriage she said that her mother had arranged her previous marriages, but she lacked the concept of marriage and believed that it meant the presence of a husband. She had no understanding of a sexual relationship, including its affects and implications. She is incapable of understanding the consequences of marriage or to plan for her future. She is unable to give informed consent for marriage."
"She is a vulnerable individual and could be subjected to coercion and is in danger of suffering emotional, physical, sexual and psychological harm if she marries."
Ms Walshe's report
"I want to live with my mother … she has her own flat. My own flat would be better. I need help with the cooking and washing and other … I just need someone to stand and supervise when I am washing myself … that is to shower … I can do the cooking myself. I can look after my laundry and put it in the machine. The sooner the better, take me out of that place and put me near to my home … somewhere near my home or in my home."
1. SK loves her family.
2. All family members expressed the view that they love SK.
3. Family members want to care for SK.
4. Shared history, communication, culture.
5. SK expresses the wish she wants to live with her mother.
1. High level of conflict and fragmentation within the family.
2. Volatile environment with high expressed emotion impacting on mental health and hence level of functioning.
3. Difficulty of achieving a collaborative approach and ensuring a care plan is followed.
4. Lack of understanding of mental illness and the nature of learning disability. How to promote optimal levels of functioning for the benefit of SK.
5. Belief that SK has a greater degree of personal control over her behaviour than is likely. Attempts to control behaviour unhelpful.
6. SK disowned by family for behaving in a manner in conflict with cultural norms. This could occur again.
7. Allegations of exploitation for financial gain across all family members.
8. Diffusion of responsibility leading to failures to care when needed. Allegations of neglect, evidence of debt.
9. Failure to work collaboratively as a team, agree and share support appropriately.
10. Unlikely to optimise level of functioning or independence if primary care remains within existing family unit.
11. Would not present SK with the opportunity to experience an alternative lifestyle with the benefit of an appropriate package of care designed specifically to meet her needs.
12. SK has little autonomy and power within existing family dynamic. She appears to be done to rather than involved in.
13. Allegations of abuse across and within all parties.
14. Allegations often made on the basis of supposition, rumour and conjecture, with little objective evidence to support conclusions drawn.
15. Family enmeshed with little evidence of healthy boundaries.
16. Competing views on where SK should live, with whom and how, leading to conflict and confusion.
17. Failure to agree on fundamental facts within the family, age, birth order, number of wives father had, leading to disagreement and confusion for all, including SK.
18. High level of suspicion within the family as to the motives of one another.
19. The focus on history, historical feuds and conflicts takes attention from the current needs of SK.
20. SK has little autonomy. Family members have strong personal views about how and where she should live and with whom. There appears to be no forum for discussion, negotiation and healthy compromise.
21. If SK were to live with any single family member, this would introduce a power differential into the equation. There is a danger that SK could become a pawn in this process.
22. For SK to live with any single family would maintain the continued risk of her being perceived as a commodity of potential benefit to that family member."
"The assessor does not consider that [a place] would present a suitable option in the short-term. It is an excellent service, but it would not be able to meet with support and risk related needs presented by SK at this stage. As a longer-term option, it might be viable."
"The assessor does not consider it to be in the best interests of SK to live with KS for a trial period, as there is no evidence to suggest any change from the circumstances outlined in the initial care needs assessment or the subsequent addendum report. The list of benefits and burdens outlined in the original care needs assessment, when considering the issue of residence with KS and other family members, remain the same. Importantly, there remain unresolved allegations against KS for maltreatment and exploitation of SK. Good practice and safeguarding adults requirements indicate the necessity to make the person safe in the first instance and investigate the issues further."
"SK is suffering from a mental illness within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983. This illness has been diagnosed in the past as schizophrenia or depression. As outlined above, I consider it most likely that SK has a schizo-effective disorder. In SK's case, her illness is characterised by prominent mood symptoms, auditory hallucinations, often of her dead daughter's voice, and paranoid ideas and paranoid delusions about her family matters. From that record it appears that most of the time she has some degree of symptoms. Her insight into her illness and treatment is limited and in the past she has refused to accept appropriate treatment. SK has a lifelong history of learning disability which, in her case, has at times been accompanied by seriously aggressive and irresponsible behaviour."
Later in her report, she concurred with the view of Ms Walshe that SK should not reside with any of her family at the present time.
"It is clear that there is a great deal of affection and love between the mother and SK and they would both enjoy each other's company. SK is saying that she would Like to live with her mother. The issue of a woman in her 30s living with her mother are both positive and negative. If it is a good relationship, it can be beneficial to both parties. However, if they have different views about how things should be done and what is in each other's best interests, as is evident in this case, then this would lead to a limitation in SK's ability to grow as an adult.
It is my belief from observation and information gained from this assessment, that the mother would find the practical, physical and emotional aspects of caring for SK very hard work. She has not cared for SK as an adult for more than a couple of days and has herself lived alone for many years, adapting for loss of privacy and the person living with you needing regular physical and emotional support, would be very difficult for anyone, let alone somebody who already needs her own support to manage in a community in which she is quite isolated.
The mother does have an understanding that SK has needs that her sisters do not have and that she has a mental illness and a learning disability. However, my two sessions with her show that in my view she does not understand clearly what these mean for SK. There are concerns about the mother's ability to protect SK appropriately from dangers and how to support her to learn and develop her independent and community presence."
"I am completely willing to make a fresh start and to recognise that past efforts at trying to help SK or to manage her often challenging behaviour have not worked or have been inappropriate. I have been reflecting a great deal on SK and realising that I need to approach her differently. Of course I would accept any advice that may be offered by the experts or other professionals now involved in SK's care and am very happy to be monitored. I have always been aware that SK has a limited understanding of her surroundings, and does not always know what she wants. In the past, she has not always recognised or understood the time of day and would try, for example, to go out at night time thinking it was daytime.
SK and I love each other deeply. I believe this is a strong basis upon which to agree a trial placement."
The mother's submissions
The sister's position
The local authority's submssions
The Official Solicitor's submssions
The mother's submissions
Further independent social work report