Clare Evans and Jade Brown, Solicitors within our Actions Against the Police team are bringing a challenge against the Secretary of State for Justice. They act on behalf of several children who have been prevented from having meaningful contact with their imprisoned parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 24th March 2020, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, prisons across the UK prevented children from visiting their incarcerated parents. In most instances, they failed in putting adequate provisions in place which would ensure meaningful contact could continue, such as remote visitation.
Instead, most prisoners were simply given additional phone credit of £5 per week. It appears little to no evaluation or assessments were undertaken for those where telephone contact is not sufficient. For example, some children are simply too young to use a telephone, and others have special needs which can prevent them communicating effectively or meaningfully over a telephone. These aspects were not considered for those needing direct contact with their parent.
MW Solicitors are representing several children who appear to have suffered significant mental health consequences as a result of this mishandling.
Our Solicitors argue that the actions of the prisons have resulted in an unreasonable interference in the right to family life. This right is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights ('the convention').
They also challenge the decisions made on the basis that there has been a failure to safeguard the best interests of these children. In some cases, we have also seen a breach of the laws under the Equality Act and Article 14 of the Convention. Laws which are there to protect people from the unlawful disability discrimination.
HMP Manchester (along with others) have recently resumed in-person prison visits. However, the current restrictions still mean that such visits are not possible for some of these children.
The conclusion expressed by the Human Rights (Joint Select Committee) in its report dated 29th June 2020 was that the Government's response to the pandemic, and the deficiencies in the measures to mitigate the impact of this "have put at risk the right to family life of up to an estimated 17,000 children of mothers in prison"
Here at MW Solicitors we have a dedicated team who are acting for the children and families who have been affected by the prison restrictions. We are keen to hear from anyone who feels they are affected by this.
Please contact us if you believe that your children have been affected by the changes to prison visitation rules during lockdown.
Please call either Clare Evans at our South Croydon office on 020 3551 8027, or Jade Brown at our Fulham office on 0203 551 8376. Alternatively you can click here to contact us to arrange a call back at your earliest convenience.
Solicitor - Civil Litigation
July saw publications such as the BBC and The Guardian cover the issue. More recently, The Guardian have published a further article highlighting one mothers particular concerns.
Solicitor Jade Brown is currently acting for a victim of Dr Manish Shah who was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting 18 female patients between 2009 and 2013.
He was convicted of more than 20 further sexual offences against a further 6 patients in December 2019 relating to the same period. On 7 February 2020, Dr Shah was sentenced to 3 life terms imprisonment. Some of Dr Shah’s victims were minors, the youngest being 11.
At Dr Shah's trails he wad in total convicted on 90 counts of assault. He preyed on those most vulnerable and used his position of trust to commit serious sexual offences.
Dr Shah first appeared in court in August 2017, charged with 118 sexual offences. The charges related to 54 victims. Dr Shah pleaded not guilty. The charges included assault by penetration, sexual assault and also sexual assault of a girl under 13 (the victim was 11).
The first trail began in September 2018. Dr Shah was found guilty of sexual offences in relation to 18 patients. The second trail began in October 2019. This trial related to 8 further patients. Dr Shah again pled not guilty but was found guilty. At the conclusion of this trial he was found guilt of 9 counts of sexual assault and 16 counts of sexual assault by penetration.
At sentencing Judge Molyneux commented:
““You were a master of deception and you abused your position of power. This was a horrible abuse of trust and caused incalculable harm. The details show a pattern of behaviour over five years. Your behaviour was not only sexual but was driven by your desire to control and on occasions humiliate women.”.
Dr Shah was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2013.
Dr Shah's offences have had a profound effect on his victims. His victims have described him as a sexual predator resulting in their lives being turned upside down.
Jade Brown is seeking an apology and an explanation for her client as to how and why this happened. She is also seeking compensation for the sexual assaults.
If you were a patient of Dr Shah and believe you were a victim, please contact Jade Brown on 0203 551 8375 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Similarly, if you worked with Dr Shah at Mawney Medical Centre, Romford, you may be in a position to help Dr Shah's victims.
Jade Brown is very experienced in representing victims of sexual abuse. She is currently instructed by victims of Dr Myles Bradbury and has represented victims at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
At MW Solicitors we recognise the need to talk to someone who will listen and take the time to hear about what has happened to you, so that we can appreciate better the merits of your case.
If you would like to talk to us about your case, please call us today on 020 3551 8500 or contact us to arrange a call back at your convenience.
MW are closely following the developments in the Post Office Subpostmasters case, a scandal in which at least 550 Post Office workers appear to have been wrongly accused of fraud and theft, with many being convicted.
A High Court judge approved a settlement of almost £58 million compensation at the end of last year, for those workers accused of the shortfalls in their branches’ accounts. This goes some way to providing vindication for the workers, with their lawyer stating
“They have finally been proved to have been right all along when they have said that the Horizon IT system was a possible cause of shortfalls in their branch accounts”.
This is only the first step towards the workers achieving justice, and closure.
MW have learned that these workers are now hoping to have their convictions for fraud and theft overturned, further to 30 cases being referred by the Judge, to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), with hundreds more referrals expected. The CCRC reviews suspected miscarriages of justice. It will only refer a case back to the appeal court for re-trial where some new evidence, or other new issue, has been identified which might provide grounds for a fresh appeal. Currently, by law the CCRC can only refer a case for a fresh appeal if it thinks there is a ‘real possibility’ that the appeal court will quash the verdict.
What’s more, during his High Court ruling, Mr Justice Fraser also confirmed that he would refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions stating in that regard:
“Based on the knowledge that I have gained, I have very grave concerns regarding the veracity of evidence given by Fujitsu employees to other courts in previous proceedings about the known existence of bugs, errors, and defects in the Horizon system”.
We could yet see convictions of Fujitsu employees for perjury.
Victims of this scandal may be able to bring further compensation claims for miscarriages of justice and malicious prosecution.
At MW Solicitors we have a team who specialise in miscarriage of justice and malicious prosecution claims. We are keen to hear from anyone affected by this scandal. Collectively our team has over 50 years experience in bringing such claims and have acted for several Claimants who have been wrongly accused and have been successful in bringing legal action and achieving significant sums of compensation.
If you are a former subpostmaster and would like advice please contact us on 0203 551 8500.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have upheld our client’s appeal against police complaint findings, and expressed concern at police failure to appropriately investigate and accurately reflect in their recording of the complaint, the clear allegation of race discrimination made by our client.
The IOPC state that our client S’s specific points as to why he felt he was treated differently due to his race, should be given “careful consideration”, and state further that “there should also be further analysis of the statistics referenced for the previous stop and search occurrences” of the police officers concerned.
Shortly after reaching adulthood, at just 18 years of age, S a young black man of Caribbean heritage and of previous good character, was tasered without warning whilst walking home from college with 2 friends, in Elephant and Castle.
The police recorded having had intelligence that 3 IC3 (police code for ‘black’) males were riding pushbikes and snatching mobile phones from commuters, in a robbery hotspot. S however, was on foot, with one mixed race friend, and one white friend. The IOPC state that: “The intelligence referred to by PC [X] and PC [Y[ has not been reviewed as part of the investigation. It is unclear how the specific intelligence referenced, which relates to three black males on pushbikes, can be related to three males of different ethnicities walking in the city”. As yet, S is unable to understand why he was considered to match the intelligence provided, and beyond that, why he was treated differentially, and worse than his friends.
The IOPC’s decision to uphold S’s complaint and re-direct an investigation in relation to all allegations, means that the police will now have to respond in a proportionate and meaningful way to the serious complaint of racial discrimination, as well as provide a sufficient response to the complaint of unlawful stop, search and arrest.
S had to have stitches further to the surgical removal of one of the taser barbs from his chest. Worse still, he has suffered the longer term psychiatric consequences of the police treatment he received that cold December 2018 day.
S is considering pursuing a claim for assault, false imprisonment, misfeasance in public office, breaches of his human rights, and for racial discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, and is represented by Clare Evans.
At MW Solicitors we have a team who specialise in claims against the police and other state agencies. Collectively our team has over 50 years experience in bringing such claims and have acted for several Claimants who have for example, been assaulted, falsely imprisoned, wrongfully or unlawfully arrested, searched and detained. We assist client in their legal challenges and claims for significant sums of compensation.
MW condemn the violence used by state forces against members of the public, based on colour or other prejudice. MW recognises the disadvantages and unequal treatment which disproportionately affects Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and the associated negative impact upon their prospects. Through our work we have seen the pattern of institutional racism within police forces time and time again. We strive to hold state agencies to account where abuses of power appear to have occurred. We are civil liberties lawyers for Claimants and members of the Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG) as well as Inquest Lawyers Group (ILG).
McMillan Williams are proud to work closely with Options 4 Change, who are closely supporting S. Options 4 Change are a children and young people charity based in the London Borough of Lambeth and since 2005, have provided various support services and projects for their service users. They strive to support local communities affected by youth violence, gangs, schools exclusions and numerous social welfare issues. They work independently and are committed to “Changing minds and lives for better despite the hardships and challenges their service users face”.
What impact will the coronavirus have on performance of contracts?
From general commercial contracts where you may wish to terminate or delay a contract or be a victim of the same, or special occasions where you may have put down significant deposits. Insurance cover may not always be sufficient in these circumstances to claim back compensation or deposits. We can advise you if you are unsure of your rights.
A Force Majeure clause may assist in your liability for what could otherwise have been a breach of contract. If there is no such clause in your contract you can seek to rely on the common law doctrine of frustration of a contract. Frustration occurs whenever the law recognises that without default of either party a contractual obligation has become incapable of being performed.
Generally a party shall not be liable for any failure of or delay in the performance of an agreement for the period that such failure or delay is beyond the reasonable control of a party and provided the legal requirements are fulfilled.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is “To make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those trying to resolve contract disputes or insurance claims.
If you are a creditor or an Insolvency Practitioner and would like to talk to one of our Commercial Debt Resolution Team . Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or fill in our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.
During this difficult period of lockdown and self-isolation MW are using all available technology to ensure that it is business as usual for clients especially when people are wanting to make a Will.
The health and wellbeing of our staff and clients is paramount to us which means that we are unable to offer face to face appointments. We are able to offer a range of alternative meeting types by email, post, telephone or video conferencing – whichever meets your needs best.
Once we have your instructions we will prepare the draft of your Will for you to approve. Once the Will is approved the next step is to arrange for it to be signed. A Will needs to be signed by you in the presence of two independent witnesses. This means that you and the witnesses need to be able to see each other when the Will is signed. Your beneficiaries or the spouses of beneficiaries cannot be a witness. As people are currently unable to interact with anyone outside of their household this usually means that there is no one in the house who is able to act as a witness. This is not something that can be done by a video link which makes matters difficult when having to social distance and keep two metres apart from others.
At the moment, the creative way forward is to arrange to sign a Will with witnesses watching through a window. If the two witnesses can stand two metres apart and see you sign the Will through a window, then Will can then be passed to them (either through a letterbox or keeping two metres apart) for them to sign. Alternatively, everyone would need to ensure that they are keeping more than two metres apart at all times. People may wish to wear gloves when doing this and there is no need to all use the same pen so everyone can keep their own if they would prefer.
It is also suggested that this be videoed, if possible, should anyone ever question if it was dealt with correctly.
Another option would be to re-sign the Will in the usual fashion once the current guidance is lifted.
Discussions are ongoing with the Government to try and relax the rules on signing Wills due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions but until any changes are made we all have to try to deal with matters the best that we can to ensure that Wills are validly executed.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", a maxim which is even more relevant in these unprecedented times. We hope that you find this information useful and please contact us should.
If you are in any doubt as to your need for a Will, want to update your Will or if you require any assistance with any other matter, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which gives chosen individuals authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to.
As a population, we are living longer and recent research by Alzheimer’s Research UK shows that sadly, 1 in 3 of us will be affected by the disorder. In addition, long term conditions and mental health concerns can also affect our capacity to make decisions.
As a contentious practitioner, I see many disputes between Attorneys who were, in the first instance, appointed by loved ones with the very best of intentions. Breakdowns in family structure and relationships can lead to dispute and differing of opinions which, if not managed correctly and discussed on an open basis, can fester and lead to expensive and unwanted litigation.
How do we choose who we wish to make those very important decisions when we are unable to and what should we take in to account when deciding who should be our Attorney? The question of whom to appoint is very important and the following points should be discussed with the person(s) you are considering appointing:
Approaching these questions on an open basis with your Attorneys prior to appointment could prevent disputes arising further down the line. It is also important to keep lines of communication between you and your co-Attorneys open; the role of Attorney places strict legal obligations upon an individual which should not be entered in to without appropriate legal advice.
The costs of resolving disputes between attorneys and indeed, litigation in itself can be high and so I advocate the use of mediation and round table meetings in an effort to resolve disputes. Of course, the Court of Protection is a last resort should discussions and resolution not be possible. However, the most cost-effective and speedy way of resolving is often to talk and mediate disputes.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who need to appoint or resolve disputes between Attorneys.
Katie Woodcock is a specialist solicitor in our Estate and Trust Dispute Team. She would be happy to talk through any issues you may have on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback with our Estate and Trust Disputes Team.
At the end of last year, we reported on a judicial review which was given permission to proceed.
The judicial review hearing took place on 12th February 2020 and the Court granted relief to the effect that the inquest verdict be quashed and a new inquest take place before a different Coroner.
The Court held that the Coroner was wrong not to put the issue of neglect before the jury at the inquest especially in light of a Prevention of Future Deaths report sent by the Coroner to one of the Trusts involved. The Prevention of Future Deaths report indicated the matters of concern to be:
The Court held that it was unfortunate that the Coroner did not provide any explanation as to why neglect was not put to the jury bearing in mind submissions made to him on this point. As a result, the inquest was flawed.
The Court also felt that it could not substitute the verdict as the issue of neglect was one for the jury and not something that the Court could second guess.
We now await the details of the Coroner who will hear this inquest and arrangements for the new inquest to take place.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including bereaved families who deserve to know the circumstances of their loved ones death.
If you have a family member or loved one who died whilst in the care of NHS Mental Health facilities and wish to talk to one of our specialist Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.
Whilst this is a Scottish case and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the UK Courts, it stresses the importance of holding public bodies to account for their actions.
In this case, Mr Webb was arrested and spent 3 nights on remand in prison.
Mr Webb had no criminal convictions and this is clearly a case where the Scottish Police were guilty of mistakenly identifying Mr Webb as the suspect. Mr Webb produced his passport, driving licence and photos of himself as evidence to show that he was not the suspect. Yet the police arrested him, took him to the police station and detained him. It beggars belief that this can happen.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who have been wrongfully arrested.
If you or a family member have been falsely arrested and wish to talk to one of our specialist Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.
In recent news the Court has ruled that the Extinction Rebellion arrests were unlawful. The Police had no power to impose a ban preventing 2 or more Extinction Rebellion protesters from taking part in protests under the Public Order Act.
MW anticipate this will now lead to lots of claims against the police for unlawful arrest and detention by members of Extinction Rebellion. At MW Solicitors we have specialist Solicitors with experience dealing with Actions Against the Police cases.
At McMillan Williams, our mission is to "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who wish to pursue an action against the police or other authority, Our Team can help you with claims against the police for unlawful arrest and detention and other matters.
We offer a range of alternative funding options including Legal Aid and conditional fee agreements (no win no fee) to ensure that you get the justice you need.