Thursday, 5 June 2014

Story Eighty One - Gauntlets

Like a Westlife song, I'm going to do a key change from now on. We have now reached Steven's last two months in the Unit and things certainly changed for the better. I've said before that Steven's barefoot escape on the night of the Take That reunion was certainly a catalyst for the things that followed. He threw down a gauntlet and it was important that I picked it up and ran with it.

The escape prompted another round of press interest. BBC London, in the shape of the formidable Kurt Bahling, took up the story. One morning in my flat, Kurt was on the phone to Hillingdon and their press officer tried to take the moral high ground by telling Kurt that he was "only interested in the jinx and japes" (whatever that meant). Kurt's final piece to camera was great: "We asked Hillingdon how a young vulnerable man in their care happened to wandering the streets barefoot and in his pyjamas on a bitterly cold night. Hillingdon replied that they couldn't comment as they were committed to acting in Steven's best interests. Kurt Bahling. BBC News, Hillingdon". Priceless.

I was also invited on to the Victoria Derbyshire show and was allocated 15 minutes after they'd interviewed the latest Alan Sugar Apprentice that had been fired. Victoria was very kind and fair and has invited me back several times since.

The local paper also did a piece which broke their record for the number of comments left by the readers. All, bar one, were totally supportive. The only negative one must have come from someone in Hillingdon - the writer knew too much about Steven to have come from anywhere else. Typically, the tone and intent was to discredit me and blacken Steven's character.

Heather Mills from Private Eye wrote another great piece, linking our story with the tragic story of Harry Horne Roberts, a 21 year old autistic guy who had died in a Unit earlier that year. The Unit had put him on a powerful medication regime but not told his parents. Harry's weight piled on and he died from heart failure.

And the powerful blogger, Anna Racoon, got interested. Anna has connections with the Court of Protection and had made it her mission to make the Court more open. I guess our case was just what she was looking for but she blasted our story across the internet.

The National press started to contact me. And after months of trying to get legal representation, some legal firms also contacted me, although it didn't immediately lead to any action.

So, within three weeks of Steven escaping, the story had broken nationally and after trying to get an IMCA to help us to challenge the DOL for eight months, Hillingdon finally referred us to the IMCA service.

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