Creating a fairer Britain
09 June 2011
In response to the ruling of the Court of Protection in the case of the London Borough of Hillingdon v Steven and Mark Neary, John Wadham, Group Director Legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:
"This is a significant victory for the human rights of disabled people and their carers. The Commission intervened in this case as Hillingdon Council were failing to uphold Steven's human rights. He, like everyone else, has a right to personal freedom and a family life and the state should not take away this without good reason.
Public bodies – such as care providers and hospitals - must pay better attention to the human rights of people in their care if they are to protect vulnerable adults and improve service standards."
Steven Neary is 21 and lives with his father. He has childhood autism and a severe learning disability.
In this case Hillingdon Council accepted him into respite care for a few days at the request of his father and then kept him there for a year. The question for the Court was whether this was lawful.
The Commission intervened in the case.
The Court decided that the Council had breached Steven’s human rights.
Full details of the judgment can be found on the BAILII website.
The Human Rights Act sets out the obligation that public bodies have to ensure that people's rights are respected in all that they do. It prevents public authorities from taking certain actions and requires them to take proactive steps to prevent breaches of human rights from happening in the first place, no matter who or what is causing the harm.
Equality law expects public authorities to pay due regard to the needs of disabled people under the public sector equality duties. The specific disability duty used in this case has since been superseded by a single public sector equality duty that covers more characteristics that people have.
> For a copy of the judgment go to the BAILII website:
> More about the Human Rights Act
> More about the right to liberty
> More about the public sector equality duty
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