Last year, Mr Justice Wall ordered that force could be used on a woman detained in a mental hospital, to impose an induced labour or a Caesarean. The Official Solicitor argued for the use of force on his own client under the Mental Health Act 1983. The judge's reasoning for this barbarism was that a Caesarean was treatment for the woman's mental disorder: a decision derided by many legal critics. This is the man who ordered an anorexic teenager to be locked up a few days ago.
What is particularly sinister is the anonymity afforded by the court to the hospital and the doctors in this latest case, as in so many others. If state hospitals want to kill or otherwise abuse their patients, they should be forced to bring their cases into open court, in the Queen's Bench Division. The patient should have independent, civil liberties lawyers acting for him or her: not the Official Solicitor. Then the abuses perpetrated by secretive family courts would grind to a halt.
BARBARA M. HEWSON
London WC1Reuse content