Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ian Brady - Tribunal hearing June 2013

It was in 1966 that Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were convicted at Chester Assizes* (Fenton Atkinson J and a jury) of the murders of children.   Both were sentenced to life imprisonment.  Hindley died in November 2002.  Brady has been held in Ashworth Hospital since 1985.  The hospital is part of Mersey Care NHS Trust and is one of only three hospitals in the country providing services for patients who require treatment and care in conditions of high security.

Brady has recently argued at a Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing that he should be transferred to prison.  However, the tribunal rejected his argument - DECISION with reasons to follow.  (The reasons became available in January 2014 - Judiciary).  See also BBC 28th June.   The tribunal announcement, published on the Judiciary website, states that Brady

'.... continues to suffer from a mental disorder which is of a nature and degree which makes it appropriate for him to continue to receive medical treatment and that it is necessary for his health and safety and for the protection of other persons that he should receive such treatment in hospital and that appropriate medical treatment is available for him.'

The hospital authorities opposed Brady's application.

One aspect of the hearing concerned the controversial question of force-feeding.  In 2000, Kay J ruled that it was lawful to so feed Brady.  Obviously, the question of force-feeding engages a number of Articles in the European Convention on Human Rights - notably Article 2 (Right to Life) and Article 3 (Prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment).  On the general question of force feeding see the European Court of Human Rights Second Section judgment in Nevmerzhitsky v Ukraine (2005) where the court held that force-feeding a prisoner amounted to a breach of Article 3.

Following the Mental Health Act 1983, Mental Health Review Tribunals provide the opportunity for patients to have their detention reviewed and give a right of appeal against compulsory hospital detention or guardianship.  The Ministry of Justice publishes Guidance for Mental Health Reviews  which now operate as part of the First-tier-Tribunal, Health, Education and Social Care Chamber.   The jurisdiction covers the whole of England. There is a separate Mental Health Tribunal for Wales, which is administered and based in Cardiff and a separate Mental Health Review Tribunal for Scotland.

Mental Health Act 1983 was extensively amended by the Mental Health Act 2007.  A Code of Practice applicable to the Acts is in place.

* Assizes preceded the establishment (from 1st January 1972) by the Courts Act 1971 of the Crown Court of England and Wales.

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