A woman, who is understood to be the first person to be imprisoned for contempt of court by the Court of Protection, has claimed that the judge would never have dared to jail her if the case had been made public, according to a report in the Daily Mail. Wanda Maddocks, was sent to Foston Hall prison for six weeks in September 2012 after trying to release her chronically ill father from a care home in Stoke-on-Trent. The Court of Protection had ruled Alzheimer's sufferer John Maddocks must remain in care because “the plans his four children made were considered inadequate".
The jailing, which was not officially disclosed, has raised concerns amongst MPs around secrecy, said the Daily Mail, with former care minister Paul Burstow calling the decision an "extreme conclusion". Wanda Maddocks was reported to have believed her elderly father would be better off in her care and took him to her home in Turkey. The pair returned after three months because they could not access his pension or savings. She said social services agreed to release John from the care home if the family provided evidence of suitable arrangements. The court rejected four submissions.
This is an extreme case, but the Daily Mail also went on to highlight a further case where a client under the court’s protection had lost £100,000 in fees. It is not a new phenomenon: in 2009 Betty Figg, aged 86, was wheeled away from her daughter’s home in Coventry after social workers, accompanied by police armed with a battering ram, swooped on the daughter’s home after accusing her of abducting her own mother. The shocking video of the moment she was taken from her daughter can be seen on YouTube.
In terms of managing people's financial affairs and welfare, the Court of Protection can make orders that must be obeyed like the orders of any other court. However, these types of issues can be avoided with some advanced planning. Had John Maddocks made a Lasting Power of Attorney appointing his children to act as attorneys for his Personal Welfare and his Property and
Financial Affairs, the family could have made decisions about his care and the courts would never have been involved.
Rather than leaving things up to the courts and your local authority, you can ensure that your loved ones are the ones to make decisions about your care and your finances. If you would like further information about Lasting Power of Attorney, or making an application to the Court of Protection, call Nick Ash at Will & Probate Services on 01778 382723.