Background – 1929
Audrey Cookson was born in Kendal, Westmorland, England in 1929. She spent most of her life in the same area – now called the county of Cumbria including her marriage to my father Jack Paley which took place in the town. It was his work that led the family to Millom on the southern tip of the west Cumbrian coast in 1969. It was here the family settled for many decades.
Historical Abuse – 1960
The earliest abuse I’m aware of relating to the family is probably more accurate termed ‘neglect’ rather than abuse. This occurred in 1960 with the ‘birth’ of her first son, Stephen in Helme Chase Maternity hospital, Kendal. He sadly suffered severe brain damage at birth with umbilical strangulation and only lived for two days. It seems those that live for fewer than five days can have their deaths ‘covered up’ by being classed as ‘still births’. As a foetus, Stephen was apparently very healthy. “Never mind, you’ll have another one” from the healthcare professionals at the time was not only completely inappropriate but extremely distressing for both parents who had been struggling to have a child for many years. Fortunately they did late have a further two sons although the last one was medically the very last, again due to difficulties.
The family suffered further abuse in the hands of Cumbria County Council in connection with the schooling of the two surviving boys. Again, rather than resolve the problems with the schools, the council preferred to put the blame on the parents. All three schools: Millom Infants, Black Combe Junior School and Millom School contributed to the abuse. Post-school attendance, the proximity of Millom School to the house has been a constant worry with intermittent problems with school children throwing stones to break windows etc.
Recent neglect – 2005
2005 or thereabouts saw the start of Audrey’s problems. She started having random falls – suffering bruising etc. as a result. Some of the falls were more serious causing cracked ribs. They became a nuisance and were brushed off as either clumsiness or trips – such as over kerbs while out shopping. In 2006, matters were getting worse and by Christmas, she was in constant pain as she was not able to recover from previous falls before the next one. Having returned to the family home for a two-week holiday that year, I found her in a particularly bad way and decided to get to the bottom of the falls. Audrey’s GP, Dr Johnson of Waterloo House Surgery, Millom was aware of the falls problems but was not taking any significant action. I challenged the GP over the issue and even raised the question as to whether the problem could have been attributed to any medication she was on. The GP assured me this was not the case.
In early 2007, Audrey had another fall requiring another admission to hospital. While she was in there, I decided to examine her medications; in particular, the information leaflets that accompany each. There was only one that seemed a bit suspect and that was Losartan Potassium for which she was prescribed 100mg daily to control high blood pressure. On my request, the GP refused to consider this and my requests for trials (dose reduction or alternative) were refused. In the end, Dr Johnson relented and agreed to a reduction to 50mg. This coincided with a friend giving us a blood pressure monitor. With this now being available, I decided not to alter Mum’s medication for a week while measuring her BP on a daily basis. What was found was that her BP was at the top limit of where it should be. Obviously, reducing the dose of the medication, should result in the BP increasing.
The surprise was that Audrey’s BP dropped to near the lower limit ! Mum’s GP had made her an appointment to see another doctor in Barrow Hospital regarding the falls. I presented him the BP evidence I’d obtained and he readily agreed to a further reduction of Losartan Potassium from 50mg to 25. Audrey’s BP increased but not to the level it was at 100mg. From this, I decided to stop the drug completely; this was in September 2007. Mum stopped having the falls. In the summer of 2006, Audrey went ‘gallivanting’ off to London in search of a man. They met up and were on there way back to his when Audrey fell at the top of an ‘up’ escalator. It’s been recognised that she never ever recovered from this fall.
Transient ischemic attack – 2008
At the end of March, Audrey suffered a ‘TIA’. These are also known as ‘mini-strokes’ and are a result of a lack of blood to parts of the brain. Being ‘transient’ the blood supply loss is only temporary but the effects can be permanent. I Found Mum standing by the washing machine unable to move – she had planned to put the washing out on the line but found she ‘didn’t know’ how to move. The doctor was called and diagnosis given. Although Mum made some recovery, she needed a walking frame for stability. Her falls from now were due to this TIA. It became very difficult to know what was best for her. The easy answer was to keep her in a chair in safety – but that’s not much of a life and does not encourage further chance of recovery. This was the point where the suggestion of getting external care workers coming to help out. Her health didn’t pick up and problems kept cropping up and so Social Services became involved and started its campaign to take over Mum’s life completely.
A Millom-based care agency became involved and as time passed we became aware of organisational issues with the whole set-up putting pressure on me to resolve the problems they created – that’s between the care agency and the NHS. The problems came to a head when it became clear the care agency were refusing to follow instructions from the NHS. A switch to County Council supplied carers and a redesign of the ‘care package’ resolved more problems than we expected. Being new to caring for an older person, you don’t know what’s ‘normal’ and with the new care team in place, the number of infections Audrey got suddenly reduced. There were other surprise improvements too surrounding equipment.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – 2010-2011
In 2010, due to Audrey’s failing mind, it was arranged and agreed that my brother and I become attorneys for Mum to officially take care of her welfare and affairs when she is unable. The application forms were filled in and signed on 27th July 2010 in readiness for use. At the time, they were not needed and so remained on file. This remained the case until the LPAs (one for Health and Welfare and the other for property and affairs) were becoming more likely to be needed. Therefore they needed to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and this took place on 29th November 2011.
The first need for the LPA was to enable us to deal with Audrey’s bank on an official footing. As it happened, this was the only use the LPAs were. The Health and Welfare LPA just gets ignored by the County Council, NHS and Court of Protection.
A change of care provision – 2011
The beginning of May 2011 saw us change of care provision to County Council-supplied care workers. Sadly, this ‘happy’ relationship didn’t last very long as on the 18th August 2011 one of the care workers broke the toilet seat. The issue was brought to the attention of the care provider and they simply denied doing it! This issue has never been resolved.
Sexual Assaults and robbery – 2012
The 15th November 2012, to be precise – from police investigation. We knew nothing of this until 24th November – the day I was arrested (well, they had to blame someone!) and Audrey was abducted; being taken to Millom hospital. Despite some really decent evidence of pubic hair dyeing, the police dropped the case. This was the first false accusation by Cumbria County Council against me – while the evidence pointed to one of their care workers being the source. I’ve asked both CPS (via Victim’s Right to Review) and police to review this case as it remains unresolved but both have refused.
My arrest took place around 1 pm. I got home again about half an hour before midnight – in somewhat of a ‘state’. On getting home, I soon discovered Mum had been abducted in my absence. An NHS Ambulance had apparently taken her to Millom Hospital.
While in Millom hospital, during December 2012, they removed some of her pubic hair without her consent – the second sexual assault. Whilst there she was also robbed of her wristwatch. The police of course have done nothing about the abduction, robbery and second sexual assault. The alleged legalisation of the subsequent assaults was in connection with the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and the ‘safeguarding’ of a vulnerable adult. The basis is that the abusers claimed that Audrey did not have the mental capacity to make a decision as to where she lived – despite the fact that all the while she was away from home, she told people she wanted to go home. Her requests were ignored and it has even been documented by them that she said ‘Dying would be a way out.’ – at the time refusing medication in an effort to end her life.
Physical Abuse, Kirksanton Care Centre – 2013
Audrey was transferred (not her wish) from Millom hospital to Kirksanton Care Centre(KCC) just before Christmas 2012. After the transfer she kept asking to go home. Her pleas were completely ignored but documented.
She had a break from this – a trip to Furness General Hospital (FGH), Barrow-in-Furness for treatment for a UTI (despite these being treatable ‘at home’). While there we found the hospital also ignored us as LPA holders in that we knew Mum would want to come home on discharge. Pamela Manson was in charge of ‘Complex Discharges’ and it was her that was the problem. We met her later in the corridor and she was completely off-hand with us. She needs to be sacked – it’s the only acceptable solution – for the ill-treatment she gave Mum. Complaining about her abuse merely fell on ‘deaf ears’.
There was one very minor positive at the time from FGH. While in A+E, I was with Mum and a male nurse. He asked me “Are you the person we’re supposed to keep away from Audrey?” I said, “Yes.” He said “Well, you seem alright”. and I said, “That’s because I am.” Maybe this was a missed opportunity on my part to see if I could get Mum protected from the Council etc.
We eventually got Audrey home on the 28th August 2013 and by her actions, discovered she’d been physically abused at KCC. We determined this as she made it clear she didn’t want to be left alone with the care workers. If I left the room she immediately called out for me. Her bank balance was also £25,000 lighter – cost of solicitor. The family’s biggest ever expense – more so than what was spent on properties. A sort of normality resumed for a while until…
Taken into care again – 2014
The 8th of April 2014 saw my brother and I arrested and Mum taken into care again. This was the second false accusation against me by Cumbria County Council – details below. A place where she remained for the rest of her life. The excuse this time was that we were neglecting her as she was losing weight. The fact of the matter is that Audrey started losing weight while in ‘care’ and to this day, the weight loss continues – while in ‘care’. Audrey is now ‘underweight’.
Her weight has consistently declined while being in ‘care’. With limited data from the the care homes, the line is very straight. Once back home we had several measurements (weekly) hence the jagged section three-quarters the way along the line. During this time we were aware of the continued weight loss and made arrangements to get to the bottom of the problem resulting in Audrey having appointments with a gastric specialist in Whitehaven – but this course of action was stopped by Cumbria County Council when they forced her into ‘care’ again. Once there, the weight loss continued and nothing was done about it. Her final weight (Post Mortem) was 42kg – which aligns nicely with the chart’s gradient.
In the last 10 months of Mum’s life, her income (pension & benefits) dried up. Again this must have been due to the council and despite contacting the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to get answers, we got none. We don’t know if they actually stopped or that the council was merely misappropriating them. Her bank account had been frozen – not that that would have stopped DWP payments being made into the account – we did at least check on that. The amount of benefits owed is £9,679·06 and with interest owed, that’ll rise to £11,934·14 as at 31/01/2018.
The organisations involved in creating or failing to stop the abuse
- Cumbria County Council (Cumbria Care)
- Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust
- North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
- Kirksanton Care Centre
- Court of Protection
- Solicitor (Bindmans LLP)
- Police (Cumbria Constabulary) (also stole property from us)
- Local MP
- Victim Support
- Care Quality Commission
- National Health Service (GP)
- Local Government Ombudsman
- Birmingham City Council
- Prime Minister
- Amnesty International
The MCA is at the root of the problem. The Act was designed to protect people who become vulnerable due to their inability to make decisions themselves. The crux of the Act appears in Section 2 subsection 1:
“For the purposes of this Act, a person lacks capacity in relation to a matter if at the material time he is unable to make a decision for himself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain.”
The MCA fails to protect people due to two sections:
Section 6, subsection (7) paragraph (b): “…doing any act which he reasonably believes to be necessary to prevent a serious deterioration in P’s condition…”
Section 44: Ill-treatment or neglect
Both seem quite logical to be in the Act but both can be used to impart abuse on the person.
All the time Audrey’s been in the ‘care’ of the authorities, she’s always said she wants to go home; when asked. This isn’t exactly ‘unable to make a decision‘, is it. Getting anyone to take notice, on the other hand, is.
Sadly, I was unable to attend the COP hearing due to the general ongoing hate campaign against me. Cumbria County Council made a further false accusation that I’d sent an offensive e-mail to one of their employees in contravention of the Malicious Communications Act – which, conveniently for them resulted in me being in jail at the time of the COP hearing. This conviction is due to be challenged in 2017 via the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The CCRC referred the case back to Crown Court in February 2018. The case was reheard on 26/04/2018 where the conviction was overturned. (c.f. Judgement)
The second false accusation.
Earlier I stated that my brother and I were arrested following the allegation by Cumbria County Council that we had ill-treated or neglected Mum – in contravention of Section 44 of the MCA.
In February 2015 following the police investigation into this allegation, we were charged with the offence and bailed to appear before the magistrates court. In the court, I opted to act as a litigant in person (LiP) without legal advice or legal representation. From past experience, I’ve found that defence lawyers in the UK are corrupt. At this hearing, it was a simple matter of requesting the case went to Crown Court. The first hearing in the Crown Court was a Plea and Case Management (PCM) hearing. As we were LiPs, the judge skipped the plea part and went on to plan out the case in the court including setting a trial date with jury for the 5th October 2015 with an estimated duration of 5 days. A pre-trial hearing was set for August and a further PCM hearing for late May. We were advised to seek legal advice and representation and informed we needed to submit to the court and CPS a Defence Statement each. This we were advised should be no more than 2 pages of A4 – as my brother’s was.
My Defence Statement was also 2 pages (12 & 13) but was preceded by a case outline as it was clear the court had little knowledge of the background to the case. Appended to the end of the Defence Statement were four appendices of evidence; one of which being the weight chart above. The total number of pages submitted was over 30.
The late May hearing was rearranged by the court to the 1st June. My brother and I were waiting outside the courtroom when the Prosecution barrister approached us to inform us that they had no evidence against us. The hearing went ahead as planned but was now a mere formality. We were asked for our pleas (‘not guilty’ obviously) and then the judge asked the prosecution for evidence against us and got none. At that point the judge found us not guilty without a jury and informed us that this would give us closure for the case. It was of course the best news we could have hoped for.
Court of Protection (COP)
Since we’d now proved we weren’t guilty of abusing Mum, we applied to the court of Protection for the LPAs to be reinstated and pointed out the fact that both parts of the COP case were vexatious therefore hoping for an award of costs (£25k) for our solicitor for the first part of the case. The COP has informed us that the last judgement was a ‘final order’ and would not therefore carry out our request via the means we requested it. However, …
…before we got the judgement from the COP…
On the 21st of July 2015 the care home informed us that Mum wasn’t eating properly. For a few days she had been only eating 1 meal a day – usually breakfast but today steadfastly refused food, drink and medication – which I discovered when I visited Mum on the 23rd July and discussed matters with the care home – she was apparently simply spitting everything out when care staff tried to feed her.
24th July the doctor said she was dehydrated and arranged a subcutaneous drip for fluids.
25th July the doctor visited again in the morning and described her condition as ‘unconscious’.
26th July the care home phoned to say she passed away through the night ~3am aged 85 – barely 5 days after not consuming anything and at times being on a fluids drip.
She never wanted to be in a care home; she didn’t want to be there and it is clear her only way out was by suicide; she had no choice – which she did successfully by refusing food, drink and medication.
Her suffering in the hands of Cumbria County Council and the COP is now at an end.
…has taken place giving the official cause of death as a blood clot causing a blockage in the blood vessels for the lungs. This is quite possibly down to dehydration – as clearly as the blood loses liquid, it is more likely to clot. Being a ‘sudden death’, the coroner is involved. As the death occurred in State Detention, an inquest is to be held. According to the Coroners and Justice Act (2009) where a death in State Detention is unnatural, the inquest should have a jury. The Chief Coroner’s Guidance No. 16 relates to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and states:
“63. The Article 2 procedural duty may, however, arguably arise where the death is not from natural causes and/or the fact of detention under DoLS may be a relevant factor in the cause of death.” With this in mind, I asked the Coroner for a jury and Article 2 Inquest.
Inquest – ??
Inquests are held by local coroners. Local coroners are appointed by the county council and like judges in the Court of Protection, are members of the judiciary. When you consider the purpose of the inquest is to find out the events that led to the death, it seems completely inappropriate that the inquest is managed by a person with close links to both the organisations that led to Mum’s death. There are also recent cases where public inquiries have found just the opposite of coroners’ findings. The reliability of coroners is currently in significant doubt. So, let’s ask the question:
Date: 18 January 2013 at 22:08
Subject: A “difficult” question
For the first time in my life I’m looking for info on coroners… …to prepare myself in readiness. Having read the Society’s homepage, I’m left with an awkward question which I feel I must ask: What assurance can you give me to indicate impartiality of coroners – when, on the face of it, there appears to be a conflict of interest (or ‘interest by association’) between a coroner and his employer ? For example, around about a year (or so) ago, a Cumbria County Council employee was killed with a vehicle. Would it be right and proper for a CCC-funded coroner to be involved ? How is impartiality ensured?
Well that’s the question ! I look forward to the answer, thanks.
From: Rebello, Andre
Date: 18 January 2013 at 22:36
Subject: Re: A “difficult” question
To: Mike Paley
I can give you a 100% cast iron guarantee that all coroners are fiercely independent judicial office holder who carry out his or her duty without fear or favour ill will or affection. We are judges and though a relevant council appoints us that is the end of the local authority’s role other than providing the funding, accommodation and resources for the coroner to investigate. We are neither employees nor under the control of a local authority. We are only answerable to the superior courts on appeal. Please be reassured that all coroners will bring justice to determine who, when where and how someone has died. As members of the judicial pillar of our constitution we do not permit the executive either local or national interfere in the process.
André Rebello OBE
HM Coroner Liverpool
Hon. Secretary of the Coroners’ Society of England and Wales.
Clearly I had doubts and the above ‘reassurance’ can only be taken with a pinch of salt. However, it would only be fair to see how things went when the time came.
Having asked the coroner for a jury and Article 2 inquest, at a pre-inquest hearing, both requests were denied – despite the apparent validity of both. On the basis of evidence and the coroner’s decision, I can conclude that the coroner’s already decided that Mum’s death was by ‘natural causes’. As I see it, there is now no need for an inquest at all as we have the answer – albeit an apparently wrong one. It would seem from this that the coroner has prejudiced the inquest. I am pretty sure the refusal of food, drink and medication – leading to Mum’s death – is most certainly not ‘natural causes’ and in light of earlier evidence, ‘suicide’ by starvation is a far more probable cause. There seems little point in the inquest process if it is not fit for purpose as appears in this case unless it is merely for the purpose of covering up the truth in an official way.
The inquest went along as ‘they’ planned. The Coroner’s verdict was indeed ‘death by natural causes’ and the only doctor present at the inquest was asked, by me, for probable reasons for the pulmonary embolism. The doctor from the medical practice where Mum was registered stated that the likely cause was due to her immobility. Mum had been immobile for a few years but only died 4 days after refusing food, drink and medication – until death. It is known that dehydration is a contributing factor for embolism (blood clot) risk. As Mum was also on Aspirin to thin the blood to avoid clotting, stopping this drug would have also likely contributed to her death. Her blood sugar levels were over 30mmol/l. (Normal range 4-6.) It was notable that the inquest did not involve questioning any independent experts. All witnesses questioned had an involvement in Mum’s care prior to her death + relatives. The Coroner also concluded that Mum did not commit suicide as she did not have the mental capacity to do so. Again, this conclusion was not tested. She had the capacity to refuse food – by spitting it out. This raises the question about many elderly people – it is claimed they ‘give up’ but does this therefore amount to suicide, by default, as it is their choice ?
Whilst in care, Mum received no legal help. She was denied this by the courts.
Glaisyers solicitors of Manchester are claiming to have done work for Mum yet have provided no evidence of this and are demanding payment from Mum’s estate – 8 months after her death. We now await them commencing legal action against ?? to find out exactly what they’re claiming for.