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Healthcare workers risk prosecution if they help a disabled man visit a sex worker

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Health care workers are prosecuted for helping disabled men visit sex workers, three appeals court judges rule in ministers’ victory

  • Healthcare workers risk committing a violation if they help a disabled man visit a sex worker, appeals court judges have ruled
  • Three judges upheld a government challenged objection by overturning a Supreme Court ruling
  • Justice Hayden had heard the case of a 27-year-old man earlier this year










Aid workers run the risk of committing an offense if they visit a man with an intellectual disability to see a sex worker, judges of the Court of Appeal ruled.

Three appeal judges overturned a Supreme Court judge’s ruling and upheld a government objection.

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Baker set out their decision in a written ruling published on Friday.

Aid workers may be committing a crime if they allow a man with an intellectual disability to visit a sex worker, three judges of the Court of Appeal ruled.

Justice Hayden, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, had discussed the 27-year-old man’s case at a hearing in the Court of Protection earlier this year.

This is where judges rule on people who don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions.

The judge ruled that under the Sexual Offenses Act 2003, counselors would not commit an offense if they made “practical arrangements” that the man would visit a sex worker in circumstances where he had the mental capacity to consent to sex, and to decide to have contact with a sex worker, but not the mental ability to make the appointments yourself.

Lawyers representing justice ministers challenged the ruling.

They argued that Mr Hayden had misinterpreted the legislation and said punishing the use of a sex worker “is against public order”.

The appeal judges concluded that the legislation had been misinterpreted.

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, allowed the appeal.  He, along with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Baker set out their decision in a written ruling published on Friday

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, allowed the appeal. He, along with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Baker set out their decision in a written ruling published on Friday

Lord Burnett said: ‘I would allow the appeal on the grounds that the arrangements envisaged for securing the services of a sex worker would endanger the care providers involved in committing an offense contrary to section 39 of the Sexual Offenses Act 2003.’

He said Section 39 of the Ethics Act dealt with “sensitive moral and ethical issues in the field of criminal policy.”

He added: ‘One of its goals is a general protection cloak to cast a large number of vulnerable people into society to reduce the risk of harm to them.

Mr Justice Hayden, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, had heard the 27-year-old man's case earlier this year at a hearing in the Court of Protection

Mr Justice Hayden, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, had heard the 27-year-old man’s case earlier this year at a hearing in the Court of Protection

“To the extent that the provision discriminates against people in (the man’s) position compared to others in the care of the state (or wider), it represents Parliament’s considered view to strike a balance in these difficult areas. ‘

Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Baker said they agreed.

Lord Burnett said that given the conclusion reached on Mr Hayden’s interpretation of the legislation, there was no need for appellate judges to consider whether healthcare providers’ involvement in facilitating the husband’s use of a prostitute’ would be contrary to public order’.

Justice Hayden had ruled that the man should not be mentioned in media reports about the case.

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