Local council wins order banning dementia sufferer from talking to Daily Mail

A judge has barred a 94-year-old dementia sufferer at the centre of litigation in the Court of Protection from speaking to journalists – pending an assessment of her mental "capacity".

Mr Justice Cobb made an interim order preventing the woman from communicating with the press following an application from a local authority with responsibility for her care.

The judge said he would reconsider the issue in the near future after the woman had been assessed by a psychiatrist.

Detail has emerged in a written ruling following a Court of Protection hearing in London.

Mr Justice Cobb said he had heard evidence from social workers at the London Borough of Redbridge and Associated Newspapers – publisher of the Daily Mail.

He did not identify the woman.

The Court of Protection is part of the High Court and judges analyse issues relating to sick and vulnerable people.

Mr Justice Cobb said the woman – a retired health worker – had dementia and was cared for in her home.

The woman had featured in a ruling by another judge in February following an earlier hearing.

Mrs Justice Russell had ruled that the woman lacked ''capacity'' under the terms of mental health legislation and said her case would fall within the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection.

She said decisions would be made as to what was in the woman's ''best interests''.

Mrs Justice Russell said social workers had investigated after concerns were raised about the behaviour of the pensioner's ''live-in carer'' and her husband.

She said the couple had been introduced to the woman by a ''friend at church''.

Mr Justice Cobb said the woman had in March masked her face with a scarf and taken part in a protest outside a town hall in Ilford, east London, about the local authority's involvement with her case.

She had been taken to the Houses of Parliament where a select committee was discussing the work of the Court of Protection and signed a petition asking the Government to intervene in her "dispute with the local authority".

The judge said there had also been "communication" between the woman and members of the press.

He said there was "concern" that the woman's carer was "influencing" the woman to "involve herself in publicity in order to further an agenda".

And the judge said it was "highly regrettable" that some of the press reporting had not provided a "balanced account" of the case nor accurately reflected evidence heard.

He said Redbridge Council had applied to restrict the woman's access to the press. Lawyers had said the council first wanted to assess the woman's capacity to communicate with the press.

Adam Wolanski, for Associated Newspapers, had opposed any restriction on the woman's freedom to speak to the press.

Mr Justice Cobb said the woman's capacity to "engage" with the press had to be expertly assessed before a final decision could be made.

The judge concluded that it was not in the woman's best interests for her to be permitted to communicate with the press "at this stage" – and made an interim order barring her from speaking to journalists.

He said the matter would be reconsidered at a hearing in May.

Before the gag order was put in place the woman told the Daily Mail: "I do not want the council people back in my life. In the past, when they provided carers from an agency, they did not look after me.

"I was left in a dirty house alone for hours at a time when they cut short their twice-a-day visits.

"They did not shower me often enough and there were foxes in the garden, and insects in my bed.

 

"When the carers came they put plastic covers over their shoes to protect them because they had left the carpets so filthy. It was only when I cancelled the council care plan, which I paid for, that Redbridge began to persecute me and the private carers I chose instead. I want to live in peace. I know my own mind and I want to be listened to.

"I would like to take legal action for compensation from Redbridge Council. I think they failed to look after me properly."

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