I wasn’t going to write about LB’s Inquest until it finishes. But yesterday’s recording triggered off such painful memories from my time in court, I wanted to set some thoughts down here.
The Ministry of Justice continually states that an Inquest is a non adversarial process. They usually trot out this line to justify not awarding legal aid to the families of the bereaved. So if an Inquest is non adversarial, what place is there for parent blaming?
Yesterday, one of the witnesses was asked if she was “scared” of Dr Sara Ryan. The witness said “no” but the reply was almost irrelevant. The aim was to paint a negative picture of Connor’s mother. There are 8 legal counsel present and only 1 representing the family. That’s seven opportunities to attack the family. The attacks had started the day before. Connor was “difficult” to build a relationship with. Patient difficult, Mother scary.
At our hearing, the Hillingdon barrister seemed obsessed with intimidation. One of his first questions to me was, “Are you intimidated by Steven?” My spontaneous, incredulous reply of “Intimidated!?” (Imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag”) should have put an end to it but he persisted for a horrible 15 minutes. Then, with all the other witnesses, especially Steven’s two support workers, he switched his questioning to, ” are you intimidated by Mr Neary?” Although everyone said “no”, he had set something up.
As a line of attack, it is psychology unsound. She is feeling intimidated. Ergo, you are intimidating. It’s nonsense. The reason you may be feeling intimidated may actually lie in you. Sorry to namedrop but last year I was introduced to Sir James Munby. I felt buttock clenchingly intimidated. Sir James couldn’t have been nicer. My intimidation had nothing to do with him. It was all my stuff around class, education, power etc.
In the bearpit of Oxford Coroner’s Court, it’s too much to expect people to ” own your shit”. That’s not the point of parent blaming. And patient blaming.
In the non adversarial process, even though a young man died whilst in State care, it is seen as acceptable for the State to attack the dead man’s family. It is just collateral damage as the NHS Trust attempts to protect its reputation. And it’s future earning power.
From → Social Care