1st November, London: In a landmark settlement for families of relatives with learning disabilities, the Royal Court of Justice has today approved a settlement acknowledging the human rights violations of a mother and her son, Ben. Ben was placed in Veilstone, a service in Devon, run by Atlas Care Ltd, where he was subjected to a regime of abuse and harm and denied access to his family. After a long, stressful process, the family have publicly held Devon Local Authority and the Secretary of State for Health accountable for serious breaches of Human Rights and have received financial compensation as well as a full admission and apology from both.
In a statement, the family stressed that it has not been easy to reach this point. The settlement does not mark an end to the suffering and harm caused, which is ongoing and likely to be lifelong. Ben’s mother Claire said, “”It would have been a much lonelier road without the CBF support and the support we have received by so many along the way. It’s hard to imagine an end because as we know it doesn’t just end. I only had to see my Sons eyes to realise something was terribly wrong and when I questioned it, I was stopped from seeing him. I had no voice only an overwhelming sickening sense of fear. The last ten years we have not lived but existed, worrying every day and I’m sure the next ten, and the ten after that, will be the same. We have fought like so many families and my thoughts are with those in so many difficult places, locked away and out of sight and without their families and friends.”
Ben’s sister Emma said: “In terms of human rights abuses, we know that Ben’s experiences are sadly not alone. His case highlights the importance of ensuring independent support is available for families navigating the complexities of the health and social care systems to support others to avoid and/or challenge human rights abuses, with the same support available in the legal system to ensure accountability:”
We hope that other families can benefit from this outcome, and use it to promote, protect and champion their own rights, and challenge human rights breaches.
Vivien Cooper, founder and CEO of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation said, “I know the toll that this has taken on the young man and his family. It has been a terrible experience and caused enduring harm and trauma. Although this is a victory in publicly holding people to account, it is the young man and his family who continue to live with the consequences on a daily basis.
We look to the Secretary of State, who accepted Ben’s human rights were breached, to take immediate action to prevent others going through the experiences that he has, at high human and financial cost. Words are not enough: he is in a position of power to take action – and we expect him to do so.”
The family were represented by Leigh Day and their statement is here Landmark claim settled on behalf of mother and her son who suffered regime of abuse at care home | Leigh Day
The letter of apology from Devon County Council can be read here: Devon CC – final signed apology
About The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) is a charity which exists to demonstrate that individuals with severe learning disabilities whose behaviour challenges can enjoy ordinary life opportunities when their behaviour is properly understood and appropriately supported.
The CBF supports families across the UK caring for individuals with severe learning disabilities. Information and support around understanding challenging behaviour and supporting behaviour change is provided through a range of written and DVD resources, email networks, family linking scheme, and through individual telephone support.
For more information about the CBF’s work on restraint and seclusion: https://www.challengingbehaviour.org.uk/driving-change/restraintandseclusion.html)
Tel 01634 838739