(THE TELEGRAPH ) – A mother, who is considerably saner than the system that has imprisoned her, fights to be reunited with her sons.
By Christopher Booker
Last week, I investigated a story as shocking in its own way as that which I broke last month about the Italian woman detained in a psychiatric hospital who, on the orders of a secret court, was then forced to undergo a caesarean section so that her baby could be sent by social workers for adoption.
One of the most terrifying weapons our “child protection” system uses against parents wishing to hold on to children who have been forcibly removed is to have them helplessly imprisoned in an asylum, certified under the Mental Health Act, where they can no longer give social workers and other “professionals” any more trouble.
When I spoke at length with one such mother, “Wendy”, who has a law degree and who has held down responsible jobs, I found her perfectly sane and rational, as had previously been confirmed by several medical professionals. After her two sons were taken from her four years ago for what seem to have been highly contentious reasons, she continued to fight for them to be returned (her slightly autistic 15-year-old pleads to come back to her, and for two years she successfully nursed her younger boy through a rare form of bone cancer).
But when, last year, to aid her fight, she repeatedly applied under the Freedom of Information Act to see her medical records and the notes of the social workers, she mysteriously ran into opposition. On December 2, while out shopping, she stopped her car for a cigarette. An ambulance drew up, she was bundled into it and taken to the psychiatric wing of Calderdale Royal Hospital, in Halifax, where psychiatrists and doctors assessed her as insane under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.
A week later, the psychiatrist in charge of her case told her that her home had been burgled. She was allowed home, under escort, to discover that her house had been ransacked. Nothing was missing apart from papers relating to her case, photographs of her children, reading glasses and £300 in cash. But the same psychiatrist then accused her of having done this herself, even though she was all the time detained in hospital.
He told her that she was “psychotic” and had an “addiction to cannabis”, which she had indeed occasionally taken for medical reasons, with the knowledge of her GP, to ease her painful arthritis. On the orders of the same psychiatrist, she was then pinned down by five nurses who, over her protests, forcibly injected her with a drug they refused to identify. She later learnt that it was Flupentixol, used to treat psychosis and to ease depression (the staff refuse to give her any medication for her genuine ailments, including arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome).
These forced injections have been repeated, leaving her knocked out and disorientated for days. Although she had no further “assessments”, she was told after Christmas that she had now been certified under Section 3 of the Act, allowing them to hold her indefinitely. She was also, however, given a form to appeal before a tribunal, and told she could name a solicitor to represent her.
“Wendy’s” case has now been taken up by the campaigning group Parents Against Injustice (Pain), which says it has come across many cases in which the Mental Health Act is similarly used against parents fighting to regain their children. Often, such mothers are branded as “psychotic” victims of “Munchausen syndrome by proxy”, with allegations that they have fabricated their children’s illnesses. Although this theory, associated with Roy Meadow, was comprehensively discredited years ago, it has since been smuggled back in under different names, such as Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII). Social workers have accused “Wendy” of imagining her son’s autism, although it was officially diagnosed by NHS doctors in 2003.
So this intelligent mother, who has never harmed anyone and is cruelly mocked by the nurses, who again forcibly injected her on Friday, is being held indefinitely, at the mercy of a psychiatrist who has not examined her again since she was admitted. She has no one outside the system to appeal to until she appears before that tribunal, where she may not even be allowed to speak on her own behalf, to show that she is considerably saner than the system that has imprisoned her. We are familiar with that playful phrase about “the lunatics taking over the asylum”. But in the Britain of 2014, it seems, that is no longer a joke.