Thursday, 19 June 2014

Story Ninety Three - 2 Days in February

Two days were set aside for the February hearing. The case was now being heard by Justice Peter Jackson. The largest chunk of the first morning was taken up by the Press application to report on our case. Their barrister put a strong case about the public interest and despite rather alarming predictions from both the Hillingdon barrister and the OS, Justice Jackson gave an order that the press could report our story. Because, it had already been in the public domain with no bad consequences, he agreed that Steven, me and Hillingdon could be named.

With that sorted, Justice Jackson suddenly asked: "Why are we here today?" The OS was seeking declarations that Hillingdon had breached Steven's Article 5 & 8 Human Rights and that all four DOLs were unlawful. 

Because it had been so low key, the main point of the hearing was almost forgotten - the judge ordered that Steven living at home was now a permanent order. I know that everything (the expert's reports, the position being taken by both the OS and Amanda, and the actual evidence of the past two months of Steven actually being at home) pointed in that direction but it was still a massive relief to hear those words.

We adjourned to discuss the nature of the hearing and when we came back, Hillingdon's barrister expressed his client's surprise at the idea that they had acted unlawfully and that they were not prepared to be cross examined about this today. He also said that even if the Judge found that they had acted illegally, they could be hardly be held responsible for honest mistakes. Justice Jackson wasn't having this and told them that an unlawful act was an unlawful act. Chris kicked me under the table and whispered, "He's marking their card". But there wasn't a lot the Judge could do with Hillingdon taking that position, so he ended up setting a week long hearing in May to examine the legality of Hillingdon's actions. In one fell swoop, the spotlight was off Steven and me and firmly on Hillingdon.

We filed out of court and were immediately pounced on by the press. Amanda grabbed my arm to take me off to lunch and left Chris to deal with the journalists. When we got back, all the press had departed except for my old pal Kurt Bahling from the BBC and me and Chris did an interview with him on the steps of the Court. As we were leaving we bumped into one of the court experts, who shook my hand and wished Steven all the best. It was a very touching moment.

So, the two day hearing shrunk and by 2 o'clock I was on the tube on my way home. Chris had issued a press release and lined up several interviews over the next couple of days. After all the press support during the campaign, I was more than happy to do the interviews.

The next day, I was woken up by a text from my friend Val - "OMG - do you realise that you and Steven have pushed Gadaffi and Libya off the front pages". And there we were - the front page of both The Times and The Independent. The Guardian and The Telegraph also ran the story. It was the start of a very full on week but I wanted to keep things in proportion too - the stability of Steven's home life had really impressed the Judge and I didn't want to jeopardise that.

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