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Court of Protection under fire after 72-year-old grandmother is jailed for hugging granddaughter (5 January 2015)

Date: 05/01/2015
Duncan Lewis, Child Care Solicitors, Court of Protection under fire after 72-year-old grandmother is jailed for hugging granddaughter

A grandmother who was jailed under Court of Protection rules for hugging her granddaughter has celebrated her release from prison over the New Year.

The Telegraph reports that 72-year-old Kathleen Danby breached a Court of Protection ruling when she hugged her 19-year-old granddaughter, who has a mental age of nine.

The Court of Protection mainly holds hearing in secret to protect vulnerable people at the centre of family cases. The details of Court of Protection cases only become knowledge months or weeks after a hearing in the judge’s written ruling. However, the names of families and people at the centre of a case are kept secret to protect them.

Judges may use their discretion to name the Local Authority or an expert witness such as a medical expert in rulings, however – provided naming a local council or doctor would not compromise the privacy of the subject of a Court of Protection hearing.

In Mrs Danby’s case, her granddaughter had been taken into care in 2007, after the child’s father was seen grabbing her “roughly” and leading her to safety after she nearly ran out into traffic during a temper tantrum.

At the time, the child’s father was jailed for grabbing her – and he was also jailed a second time when he waved to his daughter as she passed him in a taxi.

It is reported the girl ran away from care 170 times, allegedly because of her attachment to her father and her grandmother, Mrs Danby – who had been allowed one phone call to her granddaughter once a month, which was monitored by a social worker.

However, in June Mrs Danby had been caught on CCTV “illicitly hugging” her granddaughter in a car park. Police in Derbyshire were unable to arrest her, however, at the time because she lives in Orkney – which is outside their jurisdiction.

Mrs Danby was jailed in her absence by Judge Martin Cardinal sitting in the Court of Protection, who told the court: “I am sure this grandmother needs restraint”.

Mrs Danby was eventually arrested in a Liverpool theatre just before New Year by Merseyside police, while she was attending a theatre show the weekend after Christmas.

She was removed from the theatre and was held overnight in a police cell. It is reported she did not have access to a lawyer, was not given food – and did not have medication she needs for a liver complaint.

Mrs Danby was then taken to a prison run by G4S for two nights without her family knowing her whereabouts – it is alleged she was not permitted to advise anyone where she was.

On Wednesday (31/12/14), however, a court released her after her family contacted MP John Hemming and a newspaper.

Mrs Danby secured her freedom by promising the court that she would not breach Court of Protection rules and hug her granddaughter.

Mr Hemming and Mrs Danby’s own MP, Alistair Carmichael, have said they will raise in Parliament the treatment of Mrs Danby – including the care she received in custody and why she was led into court at the Civil and Family Justice Hearing Centre in Birmingham handcuffed to a police officer on Wednesday.

Mrs Danby was given legal representation, but it is reported that her lawyer was handed a thick file on the case outside the courtroom just a short time before Mrs Danby’s court appearance.

President of the Family Division, The Right Honourable Lord Justice Munby, has called for more transparency in family cases heard in the Court of Protection.

The Court of Protection was set up by New Labour under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Duncan Lewis Family Solicitors

Duncan Lewis family solicitors are a leading provider of Legal Aid family law advice – and are able to advise on children taken into Local Authority care, care proceedings and Court of Protection proceedings.

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For expert legal advice on family law and childcare – including Court of Protection – call Duncan Lewis family solicitors on 020 7923 4020.

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