Liberty will use Human Rights Act to get justice for victims of Winterbourne View care home

06 August 2012

Liberty today announced that it is representing two victims of the Winterbourne View care home scandal. A Panorama investigation, which aired in May 2011 under the title Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed, revealed shocking levels of verbal and physical abuse directed daily towards the vulnerable residents of the privately run hospital in Bristol. Footage showed employees punching and slapping patients, while one was goaded to commit suicide. Winterbourne View treated people with learning disabilities and autism.

Panorama also alleged that managers at the Winterbourne View care home failed to act when a whistleblower brought the behaviour of the staff to their attention.  The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates the care home sector, later admitted it had made an "unforgivable error of judgement" in failing to intervene.

Liberty's clients, Simon and Simone in the programme, both suffered physical violence and humiliation.  Simone was slapped and held in a headlock before being forced fully clothed into a shower.  Simon was repeatedly slapped, pulled to the ground in a headlock and had his trousers forcibly pulled down.  Both were verbally abused throughout.   

Since Panorama’s investigation was broadcast, 11 employees have been arrested and charged with neglect and ill-treatment.  All have now pleaded guilty to the majority of the charges. Liberty will now investigate the wider institutional failings which led to the large scale abuse of the patients.

James Welch, Legal Director for Liberty, said:

"Now that those who were directly responsible for the abuse of patients at Winterbourne View have admitted their guilt it is time to look at wider failings.  Not only does the management of the hospital bear responsibility for what happened but there is evidence that attempts by whistleblowers to alert the authorities were ignored.  The Human Rights Act makes clear that public bodies have a responsibility to investigate such allegations of abuse.“

Winterbourne View's 24 patients were transferred when the hospital, in Hambrook, South Gloucestershire, closed in June 2011.

Contact: Liberty’s press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128