COURT OF PROTECTION PUNISHES GRANNY

I’m ready to face jail again’, says granny locked up for hugging her
granddaughter: Kathleen Danby reveals why she continues to defy secret
courts who tried to stop her from seeing her family

  • Kathleen Danby’s granddaughter Janine is forced to live in care home 
  • She ran away to Kathleen, 75, but was made to return to the home
  • Kathleen jailed for three months in 2014 after caught hugging Janine
  • She now faces further investigation after her granddaughter stayed over 
For one all-too-short week this month, Kathleen Danby’s 20-year-old granddaughter was on top of the world. 
She
was eating her favourite meals, sleeping in her own bedroom, and hoping
for a job at a wildlife sanctuary in an idyllic corner of Britain where
her grandmother has a family house.
It
was a fresh start for Janine, who for the past two years has been
forced by a shadowy English court to live in a supervised care home
where, according to her and her grandmother, she ‘does nothing but sleep
or watch videos’ and feels ‘like a prisoner’.
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Kathleen Danby is pictured here with her grandchildren, whose faces are obscured for legal reasons

Kathleen Danby is pictured here with her grandchildren, whose faces are obscured for legal reasons
Ten days ago, Janine decided enough was enough. She ran away from the home in the Midlands and took a train to Crewe.
Then, standing alone on the station platform, she rang her grandmother for help.
‘My granddaughter said she could not bear the home any more,’ diminutive Mrs Danby, a 74-year-old pensioner, told me yesterday.
‘She
had hidden in the toilet on the train to get to Crewe because she did
not have the money for a ticket. She was penniless and wandering around
one of the busiest rail stations in the country.
‘Of course I helped her. She is my granddaughter, and I love her.
‘I rang a local hotel in Crewe and paid for her to have a room for the night. I said stay there until I can get to you.
‘I live in the Scottish islands, so it took until the next day for me to arrive there. Then I brought her back with me.’
But
this act of kindness has landed the grandmother in hot water. Bizarre
though it sounds, there is a court order banning all contact between her
and her granddaughter.
In
2014, Mrs Danby made national headlines when she was imprisoned simply
for hugging Janine when, while visiting friends, she met her
granddaughter by chance in the city where the girl lives.
Mrs
Danby was sent to prison by the secretive Court of Protection, which
has draconian powers to make far-reaching rulings about almost every
aspect of a citizen’s life, and often their relatives’ lives, too.
 Pictured, Kathleen Danby talks outside court after being arrested for contacting her granddaughter in 2014

 Pictured, Kathleen Danby talks outside court after being arrested for contacting her granddaughter in 2014

The
Family Court judges presiding over it can compel people to undergo
surgery, use contraception, or have abortions. They can decide if a life
support system is switched off, where a person lives — and with whom —
whether a marriage is annulled, and whether a last will and testament is
torn up.
Just
as controversially, the court’s judges can put someone in a hospital or
a care home for as long as the State deems it to be in their ‘best
interests’. In other words, the life of that person, who may be mentally
impaired, vulnerable, or simply old, is under the control of the court —
and woe betide the relative who tries to break the rules imposed by the
judges.
Plenty
of people who have done so have been sent to prison for contempt of
court. Which is why grey-haired Mrs Danby, a former secretary, is now
facing the threat of prison for a second time.
The
real scandal here is that we still don’t know — and never will — quite
why the court placed such a draconian order on Janine and her family.
Clearly, the judge may know things we don’t, which would explain their
decisions.
But on the face of it, Mrs Danby is an utterly sympathetic woman, which makes this legal straitjacket all the more mystifying.
As she said yesterday: ‘I was scared for my granddaughter when she called me from Crewe.
‘She was highly delighted when I found her. What grandmother would turn her back on their grandchild in those circumstances?’
Kathleen Danby smiles as she shares an embrace with her grandchildren on a family day out

Kathleen Danby smiles as she shares an embrace with her grandchildren on a family day out
But
the reunion between the pair lasted only a few days. After Janine was
rescued by Mrs Danby, the local police, alerted by staff at the
supervised home from where the girl had gone missing and who knew where
Kathleen Danby lives, made a visit to ask if she was safe and well.
Janine responded: ‘I’m fine. I’m happy,’ and the officers went away, content, apparently, that the girl was telling the truth.
Yet
last Wednesday, as the two walked down the main street of Mrs Danby’s
small town after shopping and having lunch at the local garden centre,
they were confronted by two male social workers from Janine’s supervised
accommodation.
They
had flown up there and proceeded to tell Janine she must leave her
grandmother, and her father (Mrs Danby’s son), who lives nearby, and
return to the supervised care home.
Mrs
Danby says: ‘Janine saw them first. She recognised the two men. She
began crying and trying to hide behind me. In such a small place,
everyone was watching the fuss going on.’
The
local police were called in again — this time to help corral the girl.
They put Janine in a car and drove her to the airport. The two social
workers then took her back to the Midlands.
‘I
begged them not to take her,’ says Mrs Danby. ‘Janine was beside
herself, but they wouldn’t listen. They said they had a court order and
that was that.
‘It was the end of our happy time together, and I’m sure she is distraught. I am certain she will run away again.’
 I begged them not to take her
Kathleen Danby 
The
astonishingly resilient Mrs Danby, who has no criminal record, first
collided head-on with the Court of Protection over Janine’s care two
years ago.
On
a Sunday night, within minutes of taking her seat at Liverpool
Philharmonic Hall to watch Ken Dodd, she was told by the doorman that
there was someone to see her. She went outside and found two police
officers, who arrested her.
Unbeknown to Mrs Danby, she had been sentenced in her absence to three months in prison for embracing her granddaughter.
Social
workers had been tipped off that the two had met, and then went through
street CCTV film until they found the scene of the two hugging. They
then reported the grandmother to the Court of Protection for breaching
the no-contact order.
After
her arrest, Mrs Danby was forced to spend two nights in prison and one
in a police cell, before being taken before a court in handcuffs,
flanked by four security guards. She was eventually released.
In
an interview with the Mail afterwards, she told how she had been left
terrified, and suffered bruises and cuts when she was manhandled by
police officers. She had been deprived of sleep and food, refused access
to a lawyer and barred from calling her son during her three days in
custody.
Astonishingly,
police officers and prison guards even refused to allow her to take the
daily medicine she needs to combat liver disease.
‘By
the end of my ordeal I felt shattered and very weak,’ she said, adding:
‘My first cell wasn’t fit for a dog — let alone a grandmother. They
took away my belt, shoes and coat. It was really rough in there.’
Kathleen was sent to Foston Hall women's prison (pictured)  in Derbyshire after she breached the no-contact order and hugged her granddaughter
Kathleen was sent to Foston Hall
women’s prison (pictured)  in Derbyshire after she breached the
no-contact order and hugged her granddaughter
She
found herself in Foston Hall women’s prison in Derbyshire, whose former
inmates include Ian Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr, and Karen
Matthews, who kidnapped her own daughter Shannon.
‘When
I told a guard I was in jail for hugging my granddaughter, his jaw
dropped in open-mouthed amazement. He was astonished and horrified.’
She
was only freed by a judge and her sentence quashed when she apologised.
Her Honour Judge Dowding said: ‘I am not here today to change the
decision of the previous court. I am here to allow her the chance to
purge her contempt [of court]. I am satisfied she understands the orders
now.’
This
sorry saga once again raises serious questions about the Court of
Protection, which operates largely in secret and rarely explains the
decisions it reaches to members of the public.
Mrs
Danby and her son had been restricted to talking to Janine on the phone
only once a month and at a set time, with social workers listening in
to the conversation. Since Mrs Danby’s imprisonment, they have not been
allowed to phone the girl at all.
Kathleen said she was prepared to go to prison again, as she awaits investigation over rescuing her granddaughter from Crewe

Kathleen said she was prepared to go to prison again, as she awaits investigation over rescuing her granddaughter from Crewe
The
reason for this is that the court says Mrs Danby has a ‘detrimental
affect’ on her grandaughter’s behaviour and, apparently, the girl gets
upset when she has to say goodbye to her.
How has such an un-British approach to justice been allowed to flourish in this day and age?
Of
course vulnerable children and adults need to be protected, but surely
the public has a right to know what decisions are being made by courts
in our name.
At
the centre of this case is a clearly unhappy young woman. She is said
by social workers, who have been responsible for her education and
welfare since 2007, to have a learning disability, although Mrs Danby
disputes this diagnosis. She feels Janine is a victim of a poor
education in the care system, is now bored to tears, and would have a
bright future if she returned to live with her.
During her recent week of freedom, the girl applied for a job at an animal shelter, getting a positive response.
Janine,
whose name we have changed to protect her identity because of strict
Court of Protection secrecy rules, was first put into social services’
care aged ten.
At
the time, it had been agreed she would live with her father and
grandmother in Scotland after her parents had split up. (Today, Janine’s
mother lives in England and her daughter is allowed to visit her, but
she cannot move in with her permanently either.)
Mrs
Danby says social workers first swooped on Janine on ‘spurious grounds’
— involving Janine’s father verbally reprimanding his daughter in
public for bad behaviour. She has never been returned to the family.
 She has no life and no future. I don’t know why they don’t let her go.
Kathleen Danby 
‘She
thrived before that,’ says Mrs Danby. ‘She was going to school, reading
books and loving them. She wants to come back to us up here.
‘She
says she has nothing to do all day at the place the Court of Protection
and social services have put her. She feels like a prisoner and lies on
her bed watching videos all day. She has no life and no future. I don’t
know why they don’t let her go.’
Before
Janine was taken back to the supervised care home last Wednesday, she
told the Mail: ‘I’ve been miserable. No one there looks after me.
‘All
they are interested in is keeping me locked away from my family. When I
saw my chance to run through an open door, I went for it.’
Indeed, on Thursday night Janine ran away again and was found wandering the streets by police who returned her to the home.
Last
night, John Hemming, a former Liberal Democrat MP who campaigns for
family justice, said: ‘Janine is a secret prisoner of the Court of
Protection. She is being treated cruelly. 
‘It is clear she has been sentenced, for no apparent reason, to a life of tedium, and her physical health is suffering.
John Hemming (pictured), a former Liberal Democrat MP, said Janine was being treated 'cruelly' in the care home

John Hemming (pictured), a former Liberal Democrat MP, said Janine was being treated ‘cruelly’ in the care home
‘A
couple of months ago, she wrote and invited me to visit her. I asked
her local council social services for permission, as I have to do. I
have never had an answer from them. Somehow, she needs to be rescued.
‘I
think the Court of Protection believes Janine is made upset when she
meets her grandmother, and then has to say goodbye. That is no reason to
incarcerate her.
‘She
should have an independent assessment of her learning disability, if it
exists. This girl’s life is being controlled by the State for no good
reason, and it must stop.’
As for Mrs Danby, she is waiting to see how the Court of Protection reacts to how she rescued her granddaughter in Crewe.
Yesterday,
she said sadly: ‘I am prepared to go to prison again. All I have ever
asked is for the social workers to listen to her views on where she
wants to live. But they always refuse.’

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