George Julian and Open Justice
Over the past two years, George Julian has been providing a ground breaking and vital service, not just to people with learning disabilities and their families but to the wider, interested public by live tweeting three inquests involving learning disabled people. This phenomenal work has shone a light on the process of inquests, the tactics of the key “stakeholders” at an inquest and the attitudes of the commissioners and providers to the people in their care. To date, George has live tweeted the inquests of Connor Sparrowhawk, Richard Handley and Danny Tozer. Although they died in quite different “placements” the inquests reveal that their deaths and the lives they lived before their deaths were depressingly similar.
The Ministry of Justice still likes to claim that inquests are inquisitorial (as opposed to adversarial). The evidence from the tweeting shows quite the opposite. Familiar tactics as revealed in all three inquests show that attacking families and implying the person's death was almost inevitable given the “complexity” of their needs are commonplace. Other patterns that have emerged include: how the self preservation of the organisation takes precedence over everything; how the care system is now so labyrinth that accountability is impossible; how the law designed to protect people with learning disabilities is misunderstood, ignored or manipulated.
In a dark, perverse way George's work also provides a sense of relief for families. The lives lived in these places are so barren, so service orientated and it is easy when you have a family member in State care to mistrust the evidence of your own ears and eyes. To see you are not paranoid and that you've been dealing with a false reality, can be oddly comforting.
George, we salute you.
For full coverage of the live tweeting, please follow these links:
Connor Sparrowhawk: https://mobile.twitter.com/LBInquest
Richard Handley: https://mobile.twitter.com/HandleyInquest
Danny Tozer: https://mobile.twitter.com/TozerInquest