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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Shameful 'Act'

We have continuously reported on the case of Teresa Kirk who was jailed for seven weeks in a prison that once housed Rose West, all because she defied orders to bring her brother Manuel back from Portugal care home.

It is our sad duty to say that Manuel sadly passed away. 

Dejectedly, the court used secrecy laws that banned Teresa Kirk from even publishing his obituary. 

An astonishing story that has come to represent all that is wrong with Britain’s shadowy Court of Protection (CoP). A court so powerful that, until yesterday, Teresa was forbidden from placing an obituary notice to inform friends of her brother Manuel’s death.  The same friends that the state insisted he be closer to, the same friends that the state said he’d be happier living near rather than in his home country of Portugal!

British social workers who had decreed that her brother, who had dementia, must spend his twilight years in a Devon care home rather than the Portuguese idyll that she wanted for him in the country of his birth.

Teresa Kirk was sentenced to six months for refusing to sign legal papers giving social services control over the life of Manuel.

Still Teresa was barred from telling her shocking story, thanks to that draconian ruling imposed by the Court of Protection which decreed — even posthumously — that it was in Manuel’s ‘best interests’ for him to remain anonymous.

Even placing an obituary notice in Devon, where Manuel had worked at a hotel for nearly 50 years, would have put her at risk of being returned to prison.

In its earlier reports about Teresa’s battle to help her brother and her imprisonment, the Mail was prohibited from giving his name or saying they were brother and sister. He could only be described as a ‘man’ — and even the name of his pet cat, Tuna, could not be made public.

Only yesterday, with the lifting of the reporting restrictions by the Court of Protection, can the story of Teresa and her brother Manuel Martins finally be told.

Teresa, a retired accountant and grandmother of four from Brighton, recalled how her ordeal unfolded after she refused to sign the legal papers transferring responsibility for her brother’s life from herself to social services.

‘I was never going to sign the papers giving social workers the power to say where Manuel had to live. When I was a little girl, he would put me on his shoulders and run with me through the countryside near our parents’ home on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

‘Soon after he came to England to work, I followed him. We remained close all our lives and I was not going to abandon him to state social workers in his last years.

‘He would have become depressed in Devon without the sunshine. He loved the gardens and the warm weather where he lived.’

Even after she appealed the sentence successfully, she was unable to reveal any details that would identify her brother.

Social workers thought otherwise and had recommended that Manuel should be admitted to a care home in England, staying close to old friends. One of the planks of their argument was that he would be happier in the UK, where he had a cat.

This is one of those scenarios that I just simply do not understand, how can anyone who does not know a person have their best interest in mind?  A court system able to act in this heartless, incompetent and unsympathetic way.

I wholeheartedly agree with John Hemming, the former Lib Dem MP and family rights’ campaigner, who said: ‘The gagging order imposed did not protect Manuel, but only those who made the decisions to imprison Teresa and run an expensive exercise to try to get her brother back to Britain from a Portuguese care home.  ‘The CoP seems reluctant to relinquish control of people even in the afterlife. It’s time this court stopped hiding what goes on there.’
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