Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Story Ninety Nine - The Hearing (3)

Day four had two witnesses: Chris, Steven's other main support worker and me.

Chris was great. As someone who had known Steven since he was 15, his evidence I felt carried a lot of weight. Aswene spent a lot of time with him, asking him to describe Steven pre The Unit. Hillingdon's barrister pursued a familiar line about Steven being a threat to everyone. I didn't really have anything to ask Chris as his evidence had been so thorough.

Then it was my turn. It's weird because I have hardly any recall of the three hours I spent in the witness box. In fact, I couldn't recall anything the day after. The first hour was dreadfully draining as Hillingdon's barrister persisted in trying to get me to state that I'd agreed for Steven to be at the Unit long term. This couldn't go anywhere because it wasn't true but he hammered away for over an hour.

Apart from that, I remember the Judge asking me about my relationship with the Unit manager and the social worker. Aswene asked me about my upset the day before when the team manager gave his evidence and that set me off again. And I was asked to talk about my relationship with Steven, the history, the difficulties, the bond. That was nice but emotional because nobody in the whole year that Steven had been away had been the slightest bit interested in any of Steven's relationships, including his relationship with me. So from the witness box in the Royal Courts of Justice I heard myself talking about Mr Bean, Abba, Take That, Basil Fawlty and all the other key reference points of Steven's life.

We broke for lunch halfway through my evidence and I was reminded that I couldn't talk to anyone as I was still under oath. I went at sat in a park by the Embankment and the loneliness of the whole week hit me. I had been told that as the CoP was a private court, I couldn't have anyone with me. But Hillingdon had a whole group of people there the whole week. When I got back, I checked this out with Sophy and I learnt I had been misinformed. Perhaps it was for the best - I was able to concentrate on being a litigant in person without the distraction of having friends there. But it would have been nice to have some support.

The final day was taken up with the closing addresses. Hillingdon's address took the whole morning. It wasn't meant to be that long but the Judge took them apart over the legality of the DoLs. I was making copious notes, trying to get some clue of what the final outcome might be. I counted 24 comments from the Judge that seemed to be in our favour. Aswene was given a much easier ride, which again, seemed to be a point in our favour.

The last afternoon was packed with the drama of the revelation of Hillingdon's vile press release. After it was leaked, Aswene was furious and we went back into court and the judge expressed his "dismay". The Hillingdon press officer was called into the witness box but it was the same pattern as the whole week - it was impossible to work out who made the decisions. Nobody was prepared to take any responsibility.

And with that, it was all over. Reconvene in two week's time for the judgement to be handed down. I had never felt so exhausted in my life. It was going to be a long two weeks until 9th June.

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