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VULNERABLE ADULT/ PUBLICITY: P v Independent Print Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 756

Date:17 AUG 2011

(Court of Appeal; Ward, Carnwath and Tomlinson LJJ; 4 July 2011)

A media application to attend court of protection hearing. The child had severe epilepsy and was born into a severely dysfunctional family. After 11 foster placements, the child was placed with a carer at the age of 6. The carer adopted him after two years. There were persistent disputes between the carer, mother and medical professionals as to his condition and treatment. The carer mother withdrew all epilepsy medication and the now adult was admitted in emergency to hospital because of fits. Following this incident, proceedings began in the Court of Protection. The key issue whether the carer mother or authority should assume care of the adult.

The adult lacked capacity in relation to the litigation but expressed a strong desire to live with the carer mother. The adult was to attempt independent living, partly because he would have to do so eventually when carer mother died, but also because of the fear that he would revert to a pre-hospitalisation state. Contact with the carer mother was to continue, although with some limitations.

Regarding the issues as to whether the media should be permitted to attend the review hearing, the media failed to give any notice of application but the judge nonetheless permitted media attendance and reports of his judgments in both permission and substantive matters, with restrictions on identification of adult.  

Appeal dismissed. The judge was entitled to hear media application and took a sensible and pragmatic course. The court was not to give guidance as to how applications to be managed or whether there was a public interest in workings of the Court of Protection and removal of an adult from the carer mother's care was a good reason for making order.