Note by Robin Lovelock: other client names deleted below.

Derek J. Cole M.A.(Law), LL.B. (Jesus College, Cambridge)
9 Anglesea Terrace,
St Leonards on Sea TN38 0QS

Ms Teresa Blay,
Thames Valley H.A.
5510 John Smith Drive,
Cowley, OXFORD OX4 2LH

19th April, 2003

Dear Ms Blay,

I have been asked by the following to clarify your proposals for handling their claims for free care for family members under the 'Coughlan Case' after your telephone call to Mr. Lovelock.

Mr Robin Lovelock of 22 Armitage Court, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks SL5 9TA.
Mrs ...
deleted here
Mrs ...
deleted here
Mr ...
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Mr ...
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It is part of our complaint that the new criteria adopted by the TVHA are catastrophically unlawful (see representations I have already made to your Mr. Relph). We further contend that this is because the guidance issued by the D o H, notably that of 28th June, 2001, was flagrantly in error. We note allegations in the Commons that this guidance was deliberately false.

You commented that you already had 150 past cases to review. The average sum involved in each is likely to be about £150000 so each case is a major quasi-judicial review at Common Law. It would seem a futile waste of public money to embark on them before first establishing the correct 'criteria' to apply. According to the Court of Appeal, these are quite simply 'Health Needs' and 'Disabilities'.

Other claimants have kept me informed. One Solicitor who has followed Coughlan for several years expresses 'grave reservations' about your criteria. In Kent, where the County Council 'bounced' similar 'criteria', a solicitor is going to judicial review following counsel's opinion. Mr Greg Macintosh, Director of Peat Marwick and District Auditor for Bracknell Council, has copied my submissions on your 'criteria' to consider if they impose unlawful burdens on council-tax payers.

The lawful procedure adopted on these issues in my cases across the country is for a first stage complaint to be made to the P.C.T., with a request for a second stage 'Independent review' after 28 days. In one case, at my request (signed out in front of Meridian TV Cameras) the Ombudsman telephoned the Sussex Downs and Weald PCT to insist on an 'Independent Review', which has now been granted. Under the long established rules of Natural Justice at Common Law, my complainants are entitled to nominate their representative to appear for them and I am available if they so wish. The whole procedure has to be 'adapted' under R (Cowl) v Plymouth City Council 14h December, 2001.

My five complainants above are following this correct procedure and are not prepared to withdraw from it. However, if your proposal is to set up 'Independent Reviews' as the agent of all the P.C.T.s in your area empowered to consider all our complaints, including that against the criteria, and to hear their appointed advocate, we would not object to appearing, although we would keep alive the complaints against the P.C.T.s as backstop.

As far as the composition of the 'independent review panel' is concerned, it is extremely likely that my complainants would accept a decision given by a 'jury' of 'reasonably citizens - passengers on the Clapham omnibus' as the Common Law puts it. We would not accept an adverse verdict given by any panel containing any employee of the NHS or any other official body, but would revert to the complaints to the PCTs. There are also other minor matters to consider.

As the D o H required your predecessors on 11th Aug, 1999 to take legal advice and implement 'Coughlan', we are not prepared to brook any further delay. We are therefore pressing ahead with the complaints procedure with the local PCTs pending your reply.

Derek Cole