(submittted by email)
Dear Madam/Sir,please let me repeat, I am grateful for this opportunity.
With a gap of 3 yrs, I have lived in the UK as a German national since Oct 1994. I had wanted to make this step since I was a child and loved the language and certainly since I first came to visit as a student. My love for the country and its people, however, does not render me blind to considerable structural and systemic issues in society. From 2007 to 2013, I have worked as Peripatetic Social Worker (Locum) all over England.
Since 2011, I have had to deal with a legal case I had to bring because of defamation after making a Public Interest Disclosure in an NHS Trust (safeguarding mental health in-patient).
I am not legally trained, but had to read CPR as there has never been a legal rep available for me. From reading, my instincts tell me the HRA has been grafted on to a century-old system that appears detailed in procedure, but has little substance on guidance for investigation. Given that impression, the explanation given on the government web site why Art 1 and 13 of the ECHR have been omitted seems very difficult to understand, almost cynical.
For reasons of those observations of CPR and live Court processes, I believe that after more than 20 years of its existence, the HRA is all to often ignored or side-lined. I seem to remember even hearing about Judges deciding in some context or other, unchallenged, they were free not to follow HRA. De facto, that has happened to me also. This to my mind shows how much cultural change and educational work in the widest sense will be necessary to truly integrate this vital piece of legislation.
In my opinion, when a news paper (or anybody else in public life for that matter) tries to argue the HRA only served prisoners (who had lost the right to that), the Dept of Justice should immediately reprimand them and offer support how to overcome blinkers. This cannot be a matter of political view, in my opinion, but is one of upholding the law.
As far as integration of the HRA into the consciousness of even legal professionals is concerned, I have now had 10 years of a series of breaches of Art 6 HRA - partly because I was never granted legal aid, partly because Judges more than once ignored the law and evidence, partly Barristers acting for the NHS Trust concerned causing me the detriment) were found to more than a little liberal as far as truthfulness is concerned. One of the conclusions I draw from this is to find it disputable that the adversarial system is or could ever be compatible with the HRA.
Apart from what I see as outright breaches of Art 6 HRA, I have also encountered ample occasions of low-level undermining of even the appearance of fairness. So, when on two occasions admin staff were allowed to attempt to 'strike out' a case without Court Order - and that based on an error on their part. (In one case that was on complaint rectified by the Manager of the Court of Appeal, the complaint on the other occasion is pending).
It is of little comfort, that such behaviour was at one point replicated by a single Judge at the ECtHR - from an Eastern European country only very recently having joined the ECHR.
The experience of unfairness was deepened by the lack of insight upon complaint at the Bar Council and Nurses' professional body.
And this assessment does not even take into account that the lack of fairness in the process was encountered - where in upholding the law the tables should have been turned - i.e. those breaching PIDA and Employment Law with unproven allegations should have been held to account, not the 'whistle-blower' forced to justify their conscientious action. In other words, breaches of Art 10 and 14 lie at the heart of what Jeremy Hunt in 2018 called a 'systemic issue' - namely the way whistle-blowers in the NHS are treated. (Therefore my case is now against the UK Govt for failing to protect me from those and the other breaches of the law).
While I have no experience of the criminal court, and have so far only read a short extract of the Secret Barrister's findings there - I fear I have to say nothing so far seems exaggerated or beyond credible.
As the gap between rich and poor seems to be wider in the UK than elsewhere in Western Europe I had been delighted to make a contribution to social justice through case work as a social worker. I see managing the legal case as a continuation - my most complex case.
In mental health services, especially in-patient services, I feel the borderline to degrading treatment (Art 3) is close and may frequently be crossed, where the person behind the trauma that caused their suffering is not seen, blind faith in extensive use of pharmaceutical products makes suffering worse by incapacitating the patient further and de-facto incarceration is extended beyond a short in-patient stay in the most critical of situations.
In one Trust, where a high number of patients took their lives while on a ward, investigations did not address the question how their condition could reach or remain at such a critical level while receiving (what kind of?) treatment - but merely the question: How could they have access to the means of taking their own lives. That in itself seems to me degrading and violating the personhood of those patients and of course, it did nothing to prevent repeats in subsequent years...
A senior manager of the CQC admitted in a telephone conversation with me some years ago, they did not really have a mandate to assess quality of care (sic), but were merely checking paper work meeting the flimsiest of criteria. - at risk of overlooking or contributing the violation of the patients' dignity (Art 3), and that begins in subtle everyday situations, not only in those cases of maltreatment that reach the media.
Again, it seems to me, the HRA needs to be as yet fully integrated into public awareness and the structures of health care - or rather these services could and perhaps should be re-structured AROUND the principles of the ECHR.
To summarise, while I feel the paternalistic approach to culture and law had its good time and purpose, it may no longer be compatible with a democracy and if prolonged, may create unhealthy form ideology such as become apparent in the ideological self-protection of the NHS with quasi-religious status, otherwise known as systemic issues or - as an English GP to me once said, unprompted: "(elsewhere in Europe) health care management is there to facilitate, in this country it is there to block.".
Many thanks for this opportunity.
These views are mine and mine alone, compiled without outside assistance. They are expressed without resentment, based on philosophical reflection. Apologies for any typos.:-)