INQUEST joint winners of Liberty Human Rights Award 2016
27 October 2016
Justice for Laughing Boy, Charlotte Haworth Hird and INQUEST last night won the Liberty Human Rights ‘Close to Home’ Award "for their tireless efforts to improve the standard of care provided for people with mental health and learning disabilities”.
INQUEST is incredibly proud to have had its work recognised by Liberty with Connor Sparrowhawk's family (Justice for Laughing Boy campaign) and Charlotte Haworth Hird (Bindmans solicitors).
Connor was a much loved son, brother, family member and friend. He loved buses, London, his dog, family, social justice and speaking his mind. Connor had autism, a learning disability and like 1 in 4 people with learning disabilities he also had epilepsy. On 19th March 2013 he was admitted to Slade House Assessment and Treatment Unit run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. On 4th July 2013, he drowned in the bath as a result of an epileptic seizure. This was an entirely preventable death.
We began to work with Connor’s family in the early days following his death, coordinating their legal representation from the joint award winner Charlotte Haworth-Hird, supporting them through the Southern Health investigation, Connor’s inquest in 2015 and we continue to advise and support the family in their campaign for justice. We have also conducted significant policy, parliamentary and media work to highlight the many issues arising.
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said on accepting the award:
"The truth about Connor's death only came about as a result of the family's fight for it against a background of Trust secrecy, denial and resistance to effective scrutiny. This award recognises INQUEST's unique model of working - a truly collaborative approach involving families, lawyers and campaigners. The family and Justice for LB campaign have been dedicated to ensuring that no one else receives the treatment which they and Connor have. The Human Rights Act was crucial in ensuring an independent investigation and a wide ranging inquest with a jury. It was this process, at which the family were legally represented, that enabled the systemic failings and neglect to be exposed. INQUEST will continue to campaign for a process whereby deaths of learning disabled and mental health patients are independently investigated. These lives matter. ”
Sara Ryan, Connor’s mother has spoken of the importance of INQUEST's role to the family:
“I have to say that if INQUEST hadn’t got in touch in those very early days, we would probably be sitting at home now, having had a speedy old inquest and no answers or accountability. They really are an organisation who act with integrity, sensitivity and a huge knowledge of this area. They rock it basically”.
‘l can not thank you all enough for the help and support you have given us over our terrible loss. If it wasn’t for INQUEST, we would not have been able to deal with the faults of the prison system, and try and make some changes. Once again thank you all and thank you for being there if ever l needed to speak to someone.’
– Mother of a young man who died in prison